2009 Audi R8 E-Tron Virtual ConceptEnlarge Photo
Much like Microsoft's Xbox Live, Sony's PlayStation Home is an online hub where gamers around the globe can interact with one another, download expansion packs, and fiddle around with lots of nifty free stuff. Unfortunately, like certain auto companies we could name, Sony's rollout of the service hasn't been exactly smooth, and it continues to be criticized for a number of shortcomings. But for driving fans, Sony may have finally hit a homerun by allowing Audi to create its own virtual world within PlayStation Home called the Audi Space.
While the name doesn't win points for originality, the launch of Audi Space is a great move for both Sony and Audi. Driving games represent a huge segment in the video game market, and many of the folks who play those titles play very little else. In other words, driving/racing gamers are a very engaged segment. (Have we mentioned lately how much we're looking forward to Forza Motorsport 3 for the 360? Because we are.) Virtual showrooms like Audi Space are also a great way for automakers show off new vehicles and to give gaming enthusiasts the chance to hop behind the wheel -- even if on-screen performance isn't always an accurate reflection of a vehicle's real-world capabilities, as Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson demonstrated last night.
Audi's first game for Audi Space is called Vertical Run, and as the name implies, it's a racing game wherein drivers zoom up a nearly vertical course, collecting electrical energy and generally not running into things. Those who score high enough are eligible for virtual residences in the Audi Apartments at the top of the hill.
And of course, like any other well-branded videogame, Vertical Run has its star product: the recently revealed Audi R8 E-Tron. This may be as close as the E-Tron ever gets to production -- but then the sofa may be as far as we get from leaving the house today, so maybe it all balances out.