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Bootleggers: a free to play multiplayer FPS for PlayStation Home

by Andrew Yoon, Sep 22, 2011 4:45pm PDT

Have you ever wanted to unload a clip of bullets into a PlayStation Home avatar? With the upcoming PlayStation Home redesign, you'll be able to. Sony's online community is getting a significant overhaul in the coming months, with a strict focus on games.

Jack Buser, Sony's incredibly energetic director of Home, had a lot to tell us about the redesign--and his enthusiasm is contagious. While Buser wouldn't give me an exact figure to share, he promises that Home will launch with many free games, of which I saw two in action.

Perhaps the most noteworthy addition to the Home space is Bootleggers, an admittedly rudimentary multiplayer first person shooter that gives PS3 owners a chance to frag each other--avatar versus avatar. It's a surprisingly violent twist to the PlayStation Home world: seeing Home's somewhat stiff participants fall under a blaze of gunfire is something I'd never expected to see in Sony's virtual world.

Home isn't going to be the cheerful, happy place it once was. Buser compares the new Home to Disneyworld, and promises there will be various hubs that cater to different tastes. Bootleggers exists in the "Action" hub, a run-down, dark place where your avatar could possibly get (digitally) shivved.

Starting a game of Bootleggers is incredibly easy. Just find it in the Action district, and you'll jump into a matchmaking lobby. Yes, you don't have to wait in line to play a virtual game. Regardless of how many participants, you'll be able to join a room and play.

Bootleggers did look rather simple, especially in comparison to the Call of Duties and Battlefields of the world. However, it is completely free. "It's not freemium," Buser emphasized, noting that increasing engagement within Home is the main purpose of the title. That means millions of PS3 owners have a free multiplayer FPS game at their disposal--they just have to click the "Home" icon on the XMB.

Another free game coming to PlayStation Home is a poker title, featured in the Sports hub. Once again, you'll be able to jump into any game via a matchmaking system. "We wanted this to be a fully-featured game," Buser explained.

What makes playing poker in Home so appealing--more so than its zero cost of entry--is the fact that the Sports hub features a television in the background that features updates on the real world of sports. Yes, you can go into Home and get a highlight reel of the day's biggest moments in sports. Home will become a virtual pub of sorts.

These two games are just scratching the surface of a tremendous update, the largest Home has seen since its debut. Buser has reason to be proud; this update may convert long-time critics of the service. The new Home debuts later this year.




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