A tipster talking to gamer blog Kotaku describes the updated service as follows: “you get to make an avatar for your console (like a [Nintendo Wii] Mii) and this avatar has a room. As you play games and accomplish certain tasks, you will receive items with which to adorn the room that are specific to the game (achievements).”
The tipster goes on to add that Xbox Live-style achievements will become key requirements for every PS3 game produced and that users will be able to visit the homes hosted on their friends' machines.
Kotaku temporaily ran into trouble with Sony for posting the news, and development sources Develop has contacted today have declined to comment on this topic - one contact cited watertight non-disclosure agreements. Arguably such ‘neither deny or confirm’ statements only add fuel to a fire that proves there is some truth to the reports.
And certainly, Sony has recently hinted at the addition of increased online functionality that incorporates virtual worlds and avatars.
Talking to Newsweek’s games blog Level Up at February’s DICE event, Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison discussed Nintendo’s Mii avatars, saying: “If you are going to have an avatar which is your representative in a virtual world, it has to stand for more of your personality than some 2-D cartoons. So while I think that millions of people would be happy with cartoony looks, the planet at large probably isn't.
“And it's an experiment that will be played out very soon, actually.”
Now, all eyes are on Sony's keynote at the Game Deveoper Conference in San Francisco next Wednesday, March 7th, where Harrison will relay his company's strategy on "the seemingly infinite entertainment, creative, and commercial opportunities presented by the massively connected communities of players and developers" to a 5,000-strong audience.
More info on GDC can be found here.