Sony PlayStation's official North American and European websites announced on Friday afternoon that the socially oriented adhocParty application, currently in use in Japan, will be made available for free download "soon". Many industry commentators are interpreting that to coincide with a PlayStation 3 firmware update expected later this month.

The handheld PSP console has long been able to offer multiplayer gaming to its users, either by using 'infrastructure' mode which makes connections over the internet via a wifi connection, or through physical proximity to other PSP users who will then link up their devices in 'adhoc' mode.

However, some games only make use of 'adhoc' multiplayer, meaning that friends who are separated by more than a few meters are unable to play together. AdhocParty changes that.

When application is installed on the PlayStation 3, it uses the PS3's network links to bridge the gap between players, meaning that popular titles such as WipeOut Pure, Gran Turismo and games in the the Monster Hunter series will suddenly have their online gaming communities increased dramatically.

The PS3's voice chat function is woven into the adhocParty application, meaning that online PSP users can communicate with each other verbally rather than being limited to what little in-game text chat there was.

The sought-after downloadable application has been available to users of the Japanese PlayStation network since November 2008, and some PSP users based outside of Japan - particularly fans of the Monster Hunter games - had created Japanese network accounts for themselves in order to access the advantages of international Adhoc play.