PlayStation Vita’s online modes detailed

Sony, and in particular Sony Europe manager of R&D Phil Rogers, has spilled some new information about the company’s upcoming portable system PlayStation Vita and its online modes: Near, Party, LiveArea and Activity.

Near: “What Near does is it allows users to discover each other, leave gifts for each other and essentially find out more about games. You can see where people are in relation to your location, their five most recently played games and also gifts that they’ve registered. This is fairly cool because it exposes users to games they might not have heard of and you can see how popular those games are and how people are rating them,” explained Rogers.

In essence, it’s a location-based gifting system in which information, or gifts, are “dropped” to be shared with another person who happens to cross the path of the person who left the gift.

Party: If you’re an Xbox 360 owner and use Xbox Live, then you probably know how this work, as PS Vita’s “Party” mode is basically the same as being in an Xbox Live “party chat.” It’s “platform-wide,” meaning you can chat and text with friends no matter what you, or they, are doing, including “cross-game voice chat,” as pointed out by Rogers.

It’s “really good for having friends together to discuss games, chat about them and get into them”, he added.

Activity: “Activity is a way for players to discuss progress,” explained Rogers. “The system automatically puts a few activities in there,” such as Trophies and rating, which supposedly “encourages people to then comment similar to Facebook style.”

LiveArea: “The LiveArea is essentially where you go to launch your PlayStation Vita day,” said Rogers. A.k.a., what happens after you push the power button. But beyond that, LiveArea will be a developers/publishers haven on the portable device.

“When you ship the game it’s got the standard LiveArea that you bake into the game card,” explained Rogers. However, developers and publishers “can even customize it to the user” by sending out what resembles Apple’s push notifications. “It’s a good way to push DLC,” added Rogers. “So there’s new levels out, click, go to the Store.” It sounds rough, but here’s where the money is.

Also integrated into LiveArea are location features which can be used to track users “either by GPS on the 3G model or triangulation of mobile phone cells.”

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