Home has been a complete success
PlayStation Home – Sony’s virtual space – gets a lot of criticism. Much of this criticism stems back to its opening days when there was little for users to do. These days Home is a lot more exciting with several spaces for players to visit, and it’s proving profitable for Sony. Jack Buser, the director of Home, claims that the platform has been a unanimous success.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Buser defended Home, and stated some impressive figures for the platform: it has over 100 games; average user sessions last 70 minutes; there are over 50 Home spaces; and 85 percent of online users have been on before. It’s certainly much larger and more interesting than it was in its dull and soulless early days.
“With numbers like we have, it goes without saying that Home has been a huge success for our company, something that we have been very proud of.”
In terms of profitability, Sony appear to be making a considerable amount of money from microtransactions, that is the small transactions for virtual clothing and other tat. It’s a low-risk, high reward business model and its “one of the highest-margin businesses in the gaming industry”, according to Buser.
“We’ve released over 5,000 virtual items on the platform, and we know that once those items reach maturity, they are profitable. So you see us creating a tremendous amount of virtual items, because it is such a high margin business for us to be in.”
When asked about the negative perception of Home, Buser replied that it takes time for new innovative platforms to be understood and appreciated:
“And I think it takes some time as the industry as a whole, whether that be consumers or whether that be the media, to start to shift their focus to these new types of platforms and see how people are actually spending their time with the console and with gaming in general. I think we are part of that evolution, part of that conversation.”
Home is all fine and well for people who are happy to spend their money on a sofa for their virtual apartment, but what is there for the core gamers? Not that much is the answer. So getting them interested in Home is next on Sony’s agenda.
“We’ll also see games build out extensions to narrative, such as what you saw in BioShock 2, it’s this whole idea of expanding the world of your favourite games inside home. That’s another big pillar of our strategy moving forward.”
In the future it’s likely that certain items for games will only be unlockable through Home, this Sony hopes will give gamers an incentive to log on and try it out. They may well decide to hang around.
I logged on Home back in March after a long absence and I was taken aback by how much had been added. I stopped in to the SignStar VIP rooms to watch a Stereophonics gig and the atmosphere was surprisingly enjoyable. It felt spontaneous and unpredictable. Check out the review.
Home is heading in the right direction, but it’s still not perfect. It has a lot more content but most of it doesn’t interest enough to make you return on a regular basis. But if you haven’t logged on for a while, it might be a good time for you to do so.
It may have a while to go before it truly excites us, but at least the potential can be seen these days.