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Top 7 Reasons Why PlayStation Home Will Succeed |

When Home first opened to the public late last year, the public reaction was skeptical and negative. There really wasn’t much to do beyond customizing your character and walking around. It seemed like nothing more than a glorified chat system.

As the excitement around Second Life collapsed and Google cancelled their 3D avatar project “Lively”, people questioned whether there really was a need or purpose to these 3D avatar systems at all.

Now, Home’s core feature set has improved, there are more spaces to explore, much more elaborate mini-games, and Xi is arguably the first piece of “destination content” that is really good enough to pull people to the system. However, Home is still very much an unfinished work in progress with most of its potential unrealized, but it’s fleshed out enough where you can play it and easily understand where they are headed.

Here are the top seven reasons that PlayStation Home will eventually be a success:

Disney World Epcot Style Entertainment Advertising

PlayStation Home aims to host lots of corporate sponsored virtual spaces like Disney World’s Epcot Center hosts corporate sponsored pavilions. TV and print ads are becoming less and less effective, yet companies still need to show their products to consumers. What’s nice is that consumers actually enjoy going to Epcot and they enjoy visiting the Red Bull space. The companies can build their brands and the consumers get a free (or at least subsidized) form of leisurely entertainment.

Crowd Immersion

Even though I rarely chat with people in Home and I don’t make friends or anything, it’s still very engaging just to be immersed in a crowd of avatars that are all personalized and controlled by real people. When I go to a live music/comedy/theater show, I generally don’t chat with total strangers, but I do get a lot of atmosphere and pick up a lot of non-verbal non-explicit communication from the crowd as a whole. Many people play World of Warcraft as a single-player game without really getting into chatting or guilding, yet the background presence of the crowd is clearly a big draw.

Adventure Games

Xi is a ton of fun. The game itself is very clever and unique, but what’s interesting is that it’s clearly more fun as a part of Home than it would have been as a separate stand-alone game. The Crowd Immersion mentioned above is one big advantage, but another is that this game isn’t launched from Home, it’s IN Home. It feels more realistic and immersive when I use the same software and the same personalized avatar, and can just walk over to this game.

Beyond Xi, I’ve heard the Siren space in Japan features a haunted house and is a must see. There is clearly a lot of options to develop this.

Universal PS3 Lobby System

Home will be a meeting place that people meet before and between games, choose games to play, etc.

Retail Experience

Game publishers traditionally buy promotional services from retail stores to promote their products: they pay extra to have their products featured on prime shelf space, for employees to recite scripted promotional deals, etc. Also, even consumers who do all their shopping through the web often like to browse retail stores. Apple’s retail stores are known for piquing users interest at the retail store and then the users make the actual purchase on the web.

The industry is slowly moving away from retail and an avatar system is a great way to fill a lot of the services that retail has traditionally provided.

Flagship Store Presence

Sony recently closed the one and only official PlayStation retail store at Metreon Mall in San Francisco. Why pay money to maintain a retail store like that and put efforts into special events when only a relatively small number of local residents can see it? It’s much more effective to put that effort into a world-wide service like Home.

Big Publicity Shows

Companies spend huge amounts of money building stages and setting up elaborate shows like E3, yet they are generally only accessible to press and possibly a small number of fans. With an avatar-system, they can make similar big glitzy events with all the crowds and spectacle and make them available directly to their entire user base.

I bet this hasn’t happened yet due to technical issues. It would be a disaster if they tried to hold a virtual E3 conference and the servers keeled over due to high server traffic.

  • I don’t doubt that Home has a future but I can’t see the benefit of loading Home just to then load an online game. Surely people (me included) would rather use the lobby features of a game to find players and servers. Loading Home AND then the game is just too much wasted time.

    In my eyes Home is still just a glorified chat server.

  • stodge, you bring me right to my point. My recent post with the Beach Boys song was supposed to lament the fact that there was no Home game launching support for Killzone 2.

    Before KZ2 came out, we often met in our Home club space before going into the game. It was a great place to meet and chat and discuss what kind of game we should play. It worked especially well with Warhawk, which supported game launching. Currently, you can’t chat with other people in Killzone 2 until a game is set up. By then it’s too late. We’re not going into Home first for KZ2 because the club system doesn’t allow enough club members. Plus there’s no game launching!

    Home needs ALL multiplayer games to support it.

    But that’s not going far enough. I want to be able to start Home, and without any interaction by me, end up in the 3D world in the last place I visited. I don’t want to hit X to continue, X to see the message of the day, X to accept terms. It’s debilitating.

    Once Home does that, and once all my games support Home, then Home will have to do one more thing: have the option of starting upon PS3 boot. I want to turn on my PS3 and end up in Home.

    But that’s not all!

    – Those loading times really need to be improved.
    – We need more variety of free clothing. Everyone looks like everyone else.
    – The main square needs a door that you can walk through and end up in your apartment.

    It seems like the Home developers are working on new fancy content when they don’t even have the basics down yet. Today Home is a very disjointed experience. The stupid process to get in, plus the long loading times between spaces, ruins the feeling of immersion. It doesn’t help that you see yourself walking by on a continuing basis, either.

  • Squidgy

    I love Home, I’m a big fan,
    And i agree, it has a future.

    But like you say, The loading times are horrible. It’s annoying pressing X to continue and then having to wait for my area to load.
    and then when your actually in Home, i dislike the wait to get from one location to another (such as main square to bowling) it takes about a minute just to load.

    Maybe they could do a no loading screens thing just like that Tony Hawks game did on ps2. Even though you had to walk through a building with nothing to do but walk, it was better than watching a screen saying “loading”.

    But that’s pretty much it… otherwise its good (unless my downloads are capped, and it gets extremely slow)

  • ChrisW

    Quick question. For those that say they LOVE it, do you also really like other social rooms (ie. 2nd Life) or even MMORPGs (ie. WoW)? I really think there’s a common link.

  • mrbeab

    Home sucks! There is no use for it other than to see other gamers upgrade and show off their avatar. I went to Gamestop to look for a game, I couldn’t find any game that I like that I don’t already have. Where are all the RPG and adventure games. I love fps/3rd person shooter games, but so sick that every game that comes out is a shooter.

  • Darrin

    All valid gripes: Fix loading, remove startup screens, improve clubhouse, cross-game chat, more character customization… Also stop constantly looping the Godfather trailer while I try to play the poker game. That is maddeningly annoying.

    Bottom line, today it’s mostly a prototype for what’s to come and a great chat client. Xi is pretty cool also.

    I love WoW (gave it up) but I wouldn’t say I love Home yet… it’s just not fleshed out enough yet. But I expect that I will love it in the future.

  • Home is rubbish, its only use is to annoy the idiots that take it seriously.

  • Henry Harris

    When I first heard about Home I was really excited. With the resources of a big company like Sony, I knew they could create an exciting virtual universe. That’s what I thought. Unfortunately I forgot the downside of big companies AKA bureaucracy.

    The absolute dumbest thing about Home is that in their hurry to sell games and make money, they forget what it is they were trying to do. Home only makes sense if it creates the illusion of a physical space. Instead the design is more like an extremely awkward interface to a computer. Want to go somewhere? Select from a menu. In fact everything in Home is menu driven. If all you’re going to do is select from menus, what is the point of drawing a virtual space?

    Okay, I have an apartment. Pretty cool, except it has exactly the same view that everyone else has! And I can’t go to that view. It’s just a picture. In fact everyone has the same view! This has got to be the most boring attempt to create a virtual space ever.

    Okay, there are also places you can go to inspired by PS3 games. How do you get there? Use a menu, which completely and utterly destroys any sense of physical space. There is no creativity at work here. Try selling a game where locations are items on a menu. Even the makers of the first primitive graphic computer games knew better than that!

    And to take the cake, the latest version is jerky. You can’t even walk somewhere without the computer reminding you that this is just a bad, menu driven, stuttering piece of bad, bad programing.

    It’s sad when a good idea is given such an incompetent realization. The really sad thing is all it would take to be successful would be one creative person to straighten this mess out. But, unfortunately, that’s not the way most big companies work. More likely, they’ll form a committee and vote on it while being very careful not to bruise the egos of those in power. And that’s the problem. They forgot that Home should be work of art. Instead it’s just a very staid and boring business.

  • darrin

    Henry, I agree with pretty much all of your criticisms.

    Personally, I prefer big, ambitious, ground-breaking products with tons of glaring flaws over a simple, safe product that simply adds polish and small tweaks to a well-established formula.

    Home is definitely in the former category.

  • Henry Harris

    I agree Darrin and I’m hoping some creative person at Sony will take the reins. They have the resources. They just need a vision. I would replace their cutesy popup menu with a 3D globe of the Earth, not hard to do and that would be the first step to provide a sense of space. Select a game from a menu and the globe would rotate and then zoom into the game (if it took place on Earth). Then I would make a rule that anything you can see should eventually (as budget permits) be reachable. When you get a house or apartment, the view should be different for each place and reachable by foot. I would replace the “transporter” effect with just walking out the door and going to where you want. The PS3 is certainly powerful enough to do all of this. They can limit memory resource requirements by dividing the Earth (or universe) into sections.

    In other words, Home needs to be a place, not just a postcard.