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Home upgrade to turn service into multiplayer game platform

Version 1.5 focused on multiplayer game development, physics and graphics upgrade

Sony hopes it can upgrade social network Home into full-on multiplayer social game platform with the release of the core client version 1.5.

Announced today at GDC in San Francisco, the upgrade is focused on three key areas - graphics engine, the core physics engine and real-time multiplayer gaming.

According to Sony, Home has been downloaded and activated 19 million times since launch, with users spending an average of 70 minutes per session online.

"Developers will be able to take full advantage of the improved network mechanics to create fast-action multiplayer experiences such as online racing games and first person shooters within PlayStation Home," said the company.

"Also included in the update to version 1.5 is a revamped physics engine, providing developers with augmented control over collision, mass, velocity and other physics elements, for an even greater level of realism and more intricate gameplay experiences."

Sony claims the upgrade has been designed specifically with game developers in mind, with version 1.5 launching this spring.

The showcase game for the new client is future racing title Sodium Two from Lockwood Publishing. The majority of games are based on a freemium model - last year virtual items grew 110 per cent in Home.

People using Home actively are the hardcore user base, according to home boss Jack Buser, buying and playing more than any other PlayStation 3 users. Over 8000 virtual items have been released on Home, with items that improve gameplay selling significantly more than cosmetic upgrades, he said.

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