SCEA has announced that PlayStation Home, its free virtual environment available to PS3 owners, has picked up 17 million users around the world since launching two years ago.
The 3D online world allows players to create custom avatars, interact and chat with others, decorate personal spaces, play both simple and "full-length" games, explore branded areas, and purchase virtual goods, all from their consoles.
When PlayStation Home's open beta debuted on December 11, 2008, the virtual world had only 200,000 users, nine games, 25 community events, and 114 virtual items. Along with its much bigger audience, the service now has 236 games, 600 events, and 7,000 digital goods.
Sony didn't say how many of those 17 million users continue to visit the online world after installing it, but PlayStation Home director Jack Buser pointed out that the platform has evolved its game offerings in the past two years to keep PS3 owners' attention.
"In contrast to the handful of simple mini-games offered at launch, we now see a huge variety of games, including massive full-length games developed by some of the most prominent and innovative indie developers in our industry," said the director.
He added, "The experience of PS Home itself has radically improved over the years as well, with faster load times, zero-wait game access, intuitive navigation, and the addition of features such as group-based voice chat and robust inventory management."
Buser also announced four new PS Home titles meant to demonstrate the platform's indie and social offerings, including Hellfire Games' multiplayer space shooter Novus Prime
and Mass Media's carnival minigame collection Midway
, both of which are already available to play.
The other two titles Buser pointed out are Conspiracy
, an espionage-themed action/puzzle title from Jet Set Games (Highborn
for iPhone) releasing in January 2011; and Sodium 2
, a follow-up to Outso's tank-shooter slated for Spring 2011.