The creative director of Sony's Home project has told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview to be published in full next week that he believes the PlayStation 3 virtual world platform is the "best-looking" and most "user-friendly" multiplayer experience he's seen so far.
Talking on a recent trip to Monaco for the Imagina conference, Ron Festejo explained his feeling that other virtual worlds, such as Second Life, were garish, while other online experiences were simply too hardcore for most people.
"From my point of view, looking at Second Life - because it has been mentioned a lot in the same paragraph as Home, and people make that comparison - I'm amazed at how many people go on there," he said.
He went on to discuss the importance of user-interfaces, detailed the issues he'd had interacting with others in Second Life, and also referenced other online titles that don't make it easy for inexperienced players to get involved with them.
"John [Venables, Home's lead artist] said in a presentation that for a lot of people, their first experience of online play is to 'log on...get shot in the face, log on...get shot in the face' and actually that's true - people tend to not go into that because of those experiences," he explained.
"Personally, looking at other models, a lot of them are too hardcore, a lot of them are garish in the way they look. I think what we've done with Home is have the best-looking multiplayer world - and actually the most user-friendly that I've seen as well.
"We don't have anything in there that's appealing to that kind of geeky audience that you might find in Second Life."
And Venables, who's worked on the Home project since its first concept on the PlayStation 2, agreed that it's important for Sony's virtual world experience to keep a high "quality bar", but pointed out that the Second Life creators, Linden Lab, had a more difficult proposition in terms of PC compatibility.
"Essentially, with the Second Life example - and partly the disparity of the graphics, because you have to cater for the lowest-end PC whereas on the PlayStation 3 it's a level playing-field - with something so organic as Home, with features being added, it's difficult to set that benchmark of how many polygons to throw around, and how many to save for future things that we may or may not want to do," he said.
"I think the PS3 platform has given us an advantage in terms of keeping a polished look, and it not to look like Second Life. I don't want to dis Second Life, obviously they've been successful and they have to cater for people with old Pentium IIs and whatever, so I can understand why it looks the way it does.
"So it's not to criticise them, it's just that as a PlayStation 3 online space it was very important that there is a quality bar that we want to hit."
PlayStation Home is the forthcoming multiplayer online environment that will serve as an introduction to new content as well as a space for users to network and socialise.
It will be introduced to more PlayStation 3 users over time as a free download, although no specific date has yet been announced for the end of the current beta phase, which has so far led to some positive changes.