PlayStation Vita online features detailed at Develop 2011

PlayStation Vita

Sony announced the PlayStation Vita, it’s latest portable gaming system, earlier this year. Details on the device have dribbled out slowly since then, barring the big E3 reveal of the price and 3G service provider in June. The latest update from Sony comes by way of the Develop 2011 conference, where the hardware maker revealed exactly how the PS Vita will work its online magic.

Four of the Vita’s online features were detailed — Near, Party, LiveArea and Activity — according to a report from Eurogamer. Sony Europe R&D manager Phil Rogers does a good job of laying out the basics for each one, so I’ll let his words take it from here…

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.”

Party: It sounds like Party compares with Xbox Live’s own party chat; Rogers says that the feature is “really good for having friends together to discuss games, chat about them and get into them.” It’s a “platform-wide” feature that allows up to four friends to link up and chat using voice or text even if they’re not playing the same game. Now if only PlayStation 3 would follow suit.

LiveArea: “The LiveArea is essentially where you go to launch your PlayStation Vita day,” Rogers said. This feature includes three modes, Index, Live and Game. It sounds like a central menu interface from which you can learn about new DLC and update releases for a given game. Developers will also be able to make use of the device’s GPS features, though what could be done with that isn’t clear.

Activity: Activity sounds like it is connected in some way to LiveArea. As Rogers describes it, “Activity is a way for players to discuss progress. The system automatically puts a few activities in there [such as Trophies and ratings]. That encourages people to then comment similar to Facebook style.”