Will PlayStation Stars usher in the return of PlayStation Home?

Sony recently revealed PlayStation Stars, a loyalty program that rewards players for accomplishing certain feats or purchasing PlayStation Store items. Doing something as simple as playing a game monthly, or completing “a variety of campaigns and activities,” will offer rewards. You’ll also get something for being the first in your local time zone to platinum a game. This is a run-of-the-mill points system, which is common for most businesses to encourage frequent spending at its stores.

However, where PlayStation Stars differs from restaurants or clothing stores is with its digital collectible systems. No, these aren’t NFTs and they can’t be traded for money. Instead, they exist solely to fuel fan excitement and seem to be tied to a PlayStation user’s profile based on certain things they do. Details on these “digital collectibles” are sparse, but we know they’ll include figurines of PlayStation characters and devices from the company’s history.

The most fascinating portion of the announcement promises that: “There will always be a new collectible to earn, an ultra-rare collectible to strive for, or something surprising to collect just for fun.” Similar to Trophies, it seems this system will be present throughout the PlayStation ecosystem, with plenty of miscellaneous items to earn. We also know the program is set to launch later this year through regional rollouts.

(Image credit: Prime 1 Studio)

Sony could approach this the boring way, presenting these “digital collectibles” as flat, 2D images attached to the player’s profile, essentially turning it into another tab of stickers to skim through, not unlike scrolling through someone’s trophy collection.

But if Sony wants to put the PS5’s hardware to good use, these collectibles should be a lot more than unfulfilling images. After all, this isn’t some fast food chain’s website or a clothing store’s loyalty program. This is PlayStation: the company that had one of the most successful generations ever with its previous console. We expect this to be fancy — and you should too.

How PlayStation Stars should incorporate a 3D space 

PlayStation Stars being tied to a 3D space is a must. Regardless of how Sony decides to implement the little details, anything short of a personalized area (perhaps a room or home) would be disappointing. Hopefully, it goes so far as to include wallpapers, figurines, stickers, and furniture to make it the player’s own. This room or home should be attached to the user’s profile, and ideally, accessible from that menu.

PlayStation Stars should incorporate a few major elements to give it the feeling that it’s a program that could only exist on the PS5. DualSense functionality is perhaps the most important, causing the player’s fingertips to light up with unique sensations depending on what they’re interacting with in the 3D environment. Perhaps directly linked to touching certain figurines and interacting with furniture, like an arcade cabinet in the corner causing gamey vibrations to erupt through the controller.

(Image credit: Sony)

The other potential major feature is PSVR 2. This could be an excellent extension of PlayStation Stars and a great showpiece for the upcoming headset. Being able to explore a friend’s customized 3D space in VR, utilizing the controllers to actually interact with the environment by picking up figurines, tossing items around, or even playing with that aforementioned arcade cabinet would be great. 

It would add a long-awaited extension of a PlayStation user’s personality. After menu themes went away, the PS5 took steps towards homogenizing the experience to push the company’s intended aesthetic. But if I can paint my digital room pastel pink, place a figurine of Aerith from Final Fantasy VII, and litter the room with comfy plushies, I will be ecstatic.

Now that my dreams are out there, it’s admittedly reminiscent of something PlayStation has done before. If my assumptions on how the company approaches PlayStation Stars are correct, it wouldn’t be the first time Sony funded a virtual space where players could show off customized areas.

How PlayStation Stars could be the next PlayStation Home 

PlayStation Home, a 3D social game that was live between 2008-2015 on PlayStation 3, had players own a personalized apartment, interact with others in levels based on Sony properties (or other popular fan cultures), and were able to purchase new homes, clothing, or collectible items to make their space their own.

I was a huge fan of PlayStation Home and would frequently hop on with friends to play mini games, go shopping, and show off our homes to each other. It was a great excuse to socialize and I probably spent way too much time on it, but it was fun. I vividly recall jumping into Sodium2 Payback, a futuristic, high-speed racing game, and challenging my friends to outclass them in its courses. Tons of mini games like this existed, each of which offered prizes for players to earn for engaging with them. 

(Image credit: Sony)

PlayStation Home felt like a gigantic amusement park made up of fan-favorite properties. While I’m not expecting PlayStation Stars to bring back PlayStation Home entirely, it could take the best aspects of that game and bring it to life in a way that makes sense for the PS5. The social aspects could be embedded within the PlayStation ecosystem itself, rather than as its own game in its entirety.

Rather than earning rewards for playing mini games, players could get special items just for enjoying PlayStation games. And it would be great if these were specifically tied to achieving certain things in a game. 

For example, beating God of War 2018 on the Give Me God of War difficulty is still the most challenging video game experience I’ve ever had, yet it has no trophy attached to it. Instead, I received two shields: The Aspis of Spartan Fury and Radiant Shield of Unity. These look awesome, but I’ve already beaten the game at that point, so it’s only usable if I decide to replay it. But if Sony turned those shields into collectibles that could be placed in my PlayStation Stars room, I would show off my victory to anyone who decides to visit. Although much of this is wild speculation, little details like these would make me fall in love with PlayStation Stars.

How will PlayStation Stars be stored on PS5?

One issue with this idea involves storage space. How can we make this 3D setting easily accessible from a user’s profile, especially if they’re high-quality assets? It could be delegated to a downloadable application that will store those assets on your console, so when they need to be called upon, the SSD does its work to bring them into the scene. Since we want this to just be a room, and at most, a small home, it shouldn’t take up that much storage space, but it could still be uninstalled for those who don’t intend to use the feature (although if you’re having PS5 space issues here’s how to install an M.2 SSD in a PS5 and our list of the best PS5 SSDs).

(Image credit: Future)

Having these items downloaded on the console itself seems like the most effective way to handle PlayStation Stars, as not every PlayStation user has the bandwidth to stream those assets in real-time. It could be optional, with some people downloading an application that has the assets available beforehand, or others with better internet speed streaming them in real time. After all, if PlayStation Now (which was recently absorbed into PlayStation Plus Premium) streams modern games to a player’s console, streaming a single room should be possible for most of us. 

On the other hand, I recall how troublesome it was to load trophies during the PS3/PS4 era. It took a few minutes sometimes, and although it’s a lot faster on the PS5 now, a 3D space will take far longer to load than a list of trophies. So it might be unfair to compare it to PlayStation Plus, as that is a paid service, so it would make sense why the technology is more effective than something that every PlayStation user will have access to for free.

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