Sodium One: Heavy on socializing, light on salt

Massively Multiplayer online games (aka MMOs, aka what your roommate used to play for ten hours straight) would seem to be something of a cluttered field; the furry mythical creatures of World of Warcraft reign supreme. That said, it looks like Sony is interested in making a console-based MMO integrated into their Playstation Home gaming community.

Many might remember Playstation Home from its rather bumpy beta days back in December 2008—complete with digital humping and all the trappings of a shallow consumerist ghost town, where your only options for diversions are to fork over real cash for imaginary goods and stare at others with a vapid look that Paris Hilton would envy. Sony trumpets the service as currently offering more than 100 games to play, 50 spaces to experience, and more than 2000 of the aforementioned makebelieve clothes and such.

Playstation Home screenshot

"I got this sweet pad. What the hell am I supposed to do now?"

Sodium One, it would appear at first, is a step on the way to change the rather poor impression Home gave to many. It’s a futuristic “social gaming environment” that Sony trumpets will “[leverage] the incredible computing power of the PS3 to deliver truly unique, and visually stunning social gaming experiences you won’t find on any other platform.” While Sony says that Sodium will be “genre-defying”, it’s not exactly explained how it will do so. The first section of the mini-game, Salt Shooter (make your own pun or innuendo out of that one) sounds like a standard vehicular shoot-em-up with a competitive leaderboard aspect. Credits and rewards earned can be redeemed (for what is not clear, but I’m assuming Sodium-branded merch.) The first taste is free, but getting additional levels and experiences are going to cost you $1 to $5.

Sodium One Screenshot

"Sweet, after I frag five more of these I get a sweet wall decal for my make-believe house!"

Which brings us to the main thrust: what’s the point? The main appeal of the Playstation network is that it offers free gaming compared to Xbox Live’s subscription fee (which begs the question: where do all those annoying 12 year olds get the $50 to pay for the service?) Home, meanwhile, is a curious social add-on, where scarcity and engagement are made-up. Most gamers aren’t interested in logging on to swap stories, “serve virtual drinks to friends” and browse and buy fake merch like a virtual mall (complete with the lameness that comes from hanging out in a mall). Sodium’s future games will have to be compelling enough to tease people out of their hard-earned coin—and so far, it doesn’t appear that it’s living up to Sony’s hype.

Source: PR Newswire

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