Neotopia isn't PlayStation Home's official follow-up. According to Sony there won't be one after PS3's virtual hub experiment shuts down once and for all early next year. It is, however, absolutely a PS4 spiritual successor made by vets of the original — for better or worse. Here's how its development team, made up of PlayStation Home and PlayStation Home game vets, describes Neotopia:
" neotopia is a virtual world for PlayStation 4; an ever-evolving online space where you can meet, interact, play and share - a next-generation blend between the world of gaming and social media."
"Free from the off, neotopia will allow you to be part of a rich and expansive social environment, brought to life with Unreal Engine 4 and the power of the PlayStation 4. You'll create and customise an avatar - your conduit to neotopia. There will be public spaces to explore, people to meet, events to attend and activities to get involved in. You'll also be able to purchase a range of private neotopia apartments, redecorate them, share them with your friends and rate those of others."
"You are at the very heart of this new world. neotopia is built around community, and as a citizen you will have your say in how the world evolves. You don't just get to be a visitor to this world, you get to help shape it; neotopia is supported by us, but created by you."
Your new virtual home away from home (and Home) will come with all the standard amenities: customisable avatars, your own private space, public areas with events, groups and clubs, a kudos system, and regular updates.
Neotopia will be free to play (or whatever you'd call what you do in virtual treehouses like this), but — in kind of an odd twist — you'll have to pay for the right to, er, vote. For now. Players will be able to help decide what features and events the creators tackle next, but only as citizens. You'll be able to earn that status once the game comes out, but you can purchase it right now in order to vote on a series of potential launch themes like zombie, interstellar, western, and steampunk.
So it sounds like this will have many of the same (noble, though questionably achievable) goals as PlayStation Home. I can't fault Neotopia's creators for that. While the reality of PS Home bored me to tears, I admired the spirit of the thing. Who knows? Maybe a team with more freedom will be able to build the place that PS Home yearned, even ached to be.
Neotopia is — wait for it — on Kickstarter, jangling a very big cup in the air in hopes of catching £250,000, which comes out to about $456,500. Chump change that ain't. And of course, there's the $456,500 question: Do people even want a PlayStation Home-style virtual hangout on PlayStation 4? So let's start here: Do you?