Sony explains PS Vita’s four online modes

Sony has announced and kindly explained for us the four key online modes we will find on the forthcoming PS Vita handheld games console; Near, Party, LiveArea and Activity.

Each of the different modes will be combined within games and the general online experience of the PS Vita. They range from gifting items to chatting about games amongst your gaming buddies.

Near is a location-based gifting system which will work within most games, similar to SpotPass on the Nintendo 3DS. For each game you have a Gift Box limit of 100kb which can be filled with as many gifts as you want – these can be items within a game, power-ups or even challenges. You can drop a gift at a location within a game, and when your buddy visits the same location, he or she can pick up the gift.

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 Sony’s Europe Manager of R+D, Phil Rogers, at the Develop Conference 2011.

You can even select how long a gift will sit in a location for, how many times it can be picked up and how easy it is to find. So, if a game developer wants to put a rare but awesome gift somewhere in the game, they can set it to be picked up only once, with a low probability of it being found.

Party is a group chat and gaming feature which will work cross-platform. It’s “really good for having friends together to discuss games, chat about them and get into them” according to Rogers.

Including yourself, you can create parties of up to 4 people and game, chat and share together no matter what you do. Similar to Xbox LIVE, you’ll be able to launch into a game from a chat using the PS Vita. Party Chat enables voice chat between you and your buddies, though it can be toggled on or off in game and Rogers says that game developers don’t have to include it in their titles.

LiveArea will be the equivalent of the Xbox’s Dashboard, or what you’ll see when you turn on the PS Vita. Here you will see a communication zone where you can post messages and comment on your gaming buddies’ activity in a social network-type experience.

Activity shows you what games your friends have been playing and how well they have been doing, displaying reviews, ratings and trophies for you to comment on.

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

Game developers will even be able to customise the Activity Area that comes with each game through firmware upgrades, allowing each game to be tailored to the target market.

It’s all shaping up to be a great online experience for what looks to be a very exciting portable console. We can’t wait for the PS Vita, can you? Let us know what you’re excited about via our Twitter Page.

Source: EuroGamer