Sony’s Next Generation Portable will use location-based services to bring players together both geographically and virtually.
A system called ‘Near’, which will be pre-loaded onto all NGP handhelds, will allow owners to see what friends are in their area. They will then be able to see what they’ve been playing and also have the opportunity to ‘meet’ them in some sort of virtual space.
"Users can meet their friends and new players virtually, regardless of what games they are playing, simply by sharing their game information across different dimensions of time and distance," the press release enigmatically claims.
Another service called ‘Live Area’ will also be available.
Sounding like a spruced up friends list, Live Area will allow users to "view an ‘Activity’ log that is constantly updated with accomplishments from users who are playing the same game, which in turn can trigger active real-time communication among users".
How exactly the device’s 3G connectivity will work is uncertain. Sony has suggested that while wi-fi connections will allow for true online multiplayer, 3G users may adopt a more asynchronous approach – things such as message prompts to tell a user it’s their turn in an RTS or puzzle game.
But will users require a pay monthly contract with a mobile operator?