Sony plans to launch its ambitious PlayStation 3 Home environment - announced at GDC last week - this October, and expects the initial free download to weigh in at "under 500MB", with subsequent patches "hopefully" integrated via a streaming solution "that makes them negligible".
A closed beta phase for around 15,000 users will take place between April and August, with an open beta for 50,000 or so operating between August and October.
That's all according to a "third party relations" question-and-answer PDF uncovered on Sony's developer website, which sheds further light on the service unveiled during Phil Harrison's GDC keynote.
Certain Home features are likely to be accessible via PlayStation Portable and mobile phone in some form, Sony says, while users can also expect to visit paid-for special events, and experience increasing levels of integration with the console's more traditional features as development accelerates. For example, it will be possible to track down friends easily from day-one, but you will only be able to seamlessly launch into a game of MotorStorm together once Sony gets round to coding that bit.
Another element that will take time is the environment's persistence. "Currently Home is not a persistent world, so when you leave Home, all of your possessions go with you. For instance, it is not currently possible for other users to visit your apartment while you're not there," Sony says. "We are working on the persistent aspect of Home, and expect to implement it in the long term."
In the meantime, expect Sony to sort out all the lucrative things its partners will be interested in. Advertising will apparently be kept to "palatable" levels, but will be prevalent, while content auctions, downloadable content sales, premium events and all sorts of other initiatives are on the way. "If you consider Home to be a simulacra of the real world then most goods and services found within the real world could theoretically be replicated within Home," the PDF notes.
Indeed, there are plenty of suggestive comments along those lines. "It will be possible to develop small demo-areas within Home that promote new titles, or to re-publish an old IP as mini-game within [a] Home Space," it notes.
"We believe that there will be ample opportunities for businesses and individuals alike to generate significant revenues from the Home platform," the PDF later adds, with user-to-user auctions a likely inclusion. There will be restrictions on sharing, however, with media-sharing off-limits for obvious reasons.
Lots of interesting stuff, then. If you missed out on all the PS3 Home hoopla last week, be sure to check in with our coverage of Sony's announcements.
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