PS3: PlayStation Home back to life on latest firmware 4.88 (OFW) thanks to homebrew developers
PlayStation Home was a 3D Gaming platform and social Network running on the PS3. Although it was mildly successful, the service was closed in 2015, roughly 5 years after its launch. However, fans behind the Destination Home project are bringing it back to life. Yesterday, PS3 scene member (and Destination Home developer) Nagato’s Revenge published a video showcasing PlayStation Home running on the latest PS3 Firmware 4.88 (video below)
What is PlayStation Home
PlayStation Home was a virtual 3D social gaming platform developed by Sony Computer Entertainment’s London Studio for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) on the PlayStation Network (PSN). It was accessible from the PS3’s XrossMediaBar (XMB). Membership was free but required a PSN account. Upon installation, users could choose how much hard disk space they wished to reserve for Home.
Development of the service began in early 2005 and it launched as an open beta on 11 December 2008. Home remained as a perpetual beta until its closure on 31 March 2015.
Home allowed users to create a custom avatar, which could be groomed realistically. Each avatar was given a personal apartment that users could decorate with free, bought, or won items. Users could travel throughout the Home world, which was frequently updated by Sony and its partners. Public spaces were made for display, entertainment, advertising, and networking. Home’s primary forms of advertising included spaces themselves, video screens, posters, and mini-games. Home also featured many single and multiplayer mini-games, and hosted a variety of special events, some of which provided prizes to players. Users could use won items to further customise their avatar or apartments.
Destination Home preservation project
Destination Home is a group of PlayStation fans aiming to revive and preserve the PlayStation Home experience. From their official website:
Destination Home is a non-profit project that aims to revive PlayStation Home’s online for preservation and educational purposes.
PlayStation Home was one of the first social world games on console that we all loved and enjoyed. Sadly, it came to an end on March 31st, 2015. Destination Home intends to recover what was lost and preserve the game in a playable state. We do not accept donations nor charge any money, everything is free.
Destination Home has been in development for about 3 years now, and has come a long way.
What’s new with Destination Home for PS3?
What Nagato’s Revenge’s video shows today is that Online mode is running for PlayStation home on the latest Official PS3 firmware. Until now, the reverse engineered games required a hacked PS3 (Hybrid 4.88 for example), but the team have managed to get PlayStation home to run again without a hacked console.
Effectively, how this will work is that the initial install of the app will required to run a Hybrid Firmware, but once installed, it is possible to revert the console to OFW and run the game.This was in high demand from the community, as people didn’t want to run the risk of a ban for using a hacked PS3.
Here’s what the team recently said about the online progress:
Recently we’ve completed testing of a retail version of PlayStation Home on a PS3 with official firmware. This test concluded that distributing a client to users to install on hybrid firmware and then reverting back to OFW was possible. This is displayed as a proof of concept in the video below.
Any purchases you made in-game prior to PlayStation Home’s closure on April 1st 2015 will once again be accessible to you IF you’re using your ORIGINAL ACCOUNT. Barring any potential risks involved with accessing the game post-closure, we’re also unsure if this will have a reaction by Sony so it’s best to tread lightly — though a response from them is probably unlikely. (Things not stored on your PSN account are excluded from this e.g. rewards, furniture layout, etc).
This project is rightfully getting a lot of excitement from the scene: PlayStation Home, for all its flaws, was an extremely unique piece of software, that only ever existed on the PS3, and will most likely not ever be re-released. Preserving it and getting to experience it years later is exciting in itself, but the prospects that a fully reverse engineered version could be produced, and end up improving on the original one, is really fantastic!
For people who want to know more on the current status of the Destination Home project, Nagato has also published a FAQ.
Where can I get Destination Home?
People wanting to install the latest version (offline only for now) can go to the project’s official download page. You will need a hacked PS3 (or RPCS3 emulator) for the time being. Note that offline development is currently stalled as the team are focusing their efforts on the much more promising Online version moving forward.
The Online version of game is not entirely ready for Beta yet, but according to the developers, they are reaching closed alpha/closed beta stages very soon. The best to stay up to date on the project, and potentially get involved in the Online beta, is to get to their official site, from where you can access their social accounts. Their discord server in particular seems to be where the hot news get released first.