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Home to go live worldwide tomorrow

December 11 launch for PS3 social hub; brand spaces and micro-transaction prices revealed

Sony's long-awaited social networking environment for the PlayStation 3, Home, will finally go live worldwide tomorrow, December 11.

A free download for all PlayStation 3 owners, Home will allow users to create avatars, communicate via text and chat with other users in real-time, play mini-games, view entertainment, and create their own online communities.

For Europe, Ubisoft will be the first publisher to offer a themed Far Cry 2 space, with more environments planned for Sony titles Warhawk, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, MotorStorm and SOCOM. Sony Europe has said it is also working with Activision, Eidos, Electronic Arts, Midway, Sega and Atari on future themed locations.

A Club House feature will allow users to create groups for other PS3 users, with Sony charging for the entitlement to run a Club, although no price has yet been announced.

Last week it was revealed that Red Bull would be one of the first brands to claim space in Home, with Diesel, Paramount, Ligne Roset, Hexus TV and Eurogamer also offering unique content for the online world.

Diesel will begin offering clothing for avatars – some free, some priced up to EUR 1.50 – while Ligne Roset will offer furniture which can be customised.

The PlayStation Home Theatre will allow users to view exclusive movie content from Paramount, while Eurogamer will provide gaming content and Hexus TV lifestyle programming.

"PlayStation Home is truly a promising network community service on the PlayStation platform, made possible with the powerful combination of PS3's overwhelming computational power and PlayStation Network that covers many countries around the globe," said Kaz Hirai, President of Sony.

"We are committed to providing PS3 users with exciting gaming experiences with PlayStation Home and together with our partners and users, expand the new world of interactive entertainment as we move forward."

The Home beta has been available to thousands of PlayStation 3 users over the past month, but the opening of the service tomorrow to a wider audience is still being labelled as a 'beta' product by Sony.

The company intends to add more features and content to Home throughout 2009.

Home has suffered a number of delays since it was first announced, disappointing not only consumers but industry executives such as EA's Peter Moore and Microsoft's Neil Thompson - rivals who will no doubt be scrutinising Sony's bold move into virtual worlds.

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