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Buser: 'Killer Apps' Will Drive PlayStation Home Adoption
Buser: 'Killer Apps' Will Drive PlayStation Home Adoption
December 22, 2010 | By Kris Graft

December 22, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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More: Console/PC



This month, Sony said its free-with-every-PlayStation 3 virtual world PlayStation Home hit its two-year anniversary with 17 million registered users.

It's an important landmark for the Home initiative. First announced back in 2006, just as it was becoming clear that online virtual worlds were busting following the boom, naysayers argued that the time for Second Life-wannabes was over -- gamers don't want to walk around a 3D virtual world to access content, they want easy accessibility.

Nevertheless, the free Home, which only requires users to sign up for a PlayStation Network account, has soldiered on since its beta launch in 2008, growing from just 200,000 users and nine games to 17 million users and 236 games.

The virtual world also offers a catalog of 7,000 high-margin virtual goods, which lead to Home's previously-reported profitability.

But while 17 million is a big number, it's still only about a third of PlayStation Network's 50 million worldwide users. And the number of active Home users -- a figure Sony reveals to dev partners under NDA -- is somewhere even lower than the registered user mark.

What's going to drive further adoption of Home, according to PlayStation Home director Jack Buser, is gamer appeal. Bringing in more games, making relationships with more developers and embracing emerging online business models is the future of the platform.

"Games are the killer app for the platform," said Buser in an interview with Gamaustra.

It wasn't always that way; originally, Home was more of a respite from gaming that happened to be accessed through a game console. "I think once gamers find out that they have hundreds of games built into PlayStation Home, most of them free-to-play, [they will try Home]."

Sony doesn't break out PlayStation Home's revenue or profit figures, although Buser said PlayStation Home has seen "significant revenue growth." And with Home's continued sale of high-margin virtual goods, that means profits are on the rise too.

"If you look at the first quarter of this calendar year, we actually tripled revenue from the same time period of the year prior," Buser said. "...The business model works, and we like it quite a bit. It's one of the reasons we're able to offer PlayStation Home as a free service."

The director said the Home team is continuing to work on trying to bring smaller, independent developers to the service. PlayStation Home sponsored IndieCade this year and had a presence at Game Developers Conference Online in Austin. PlayStation Home's team also inked a deal this summer with indie game publisher Codename to bring games to the service.

Buser also sees a future in virtual item sales and free-to-play microtransaction-based games -- two business models virtually absent from PlayStation 3 competitors. He called microtransactions the "bread and butter" of PlayStation Home.

"Here we are in the console space becoming very comfortable, very familiar with the latest and greatest business models of the game industry, putting us just miles ahead of the competition in this regard," he claimed.


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Comments


Jamie Mann
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It's a bit of a shame that the active userbase number is under NDA - of that 17 million, I'd be surprised if more than 50% of those people log in on a regular basis.



(actually, I'd be surprised if more than 20% do, but hey. I'm cynical ;)



Back to the article: if people are coming to Home for the games rather than the VR-world elements, then this suggests that Home itself is essentially worthless. Would Sony be better going off for something like Facebook and/or Microsoft's Dashboard model?

Matthew Mouras
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I'm a developer and a frequent gamer. Home made me curious, so I installed it when I bought my new PS3 this year. I found it a thoroughly confusing affair. It was not intuitive in the least - what was I supposed to do in this digital space? What was I supposed to gain from the experience? It left me with no answers and no desire to do the online research necessary to get anything out of the system. Maybe that has evolved in the last 6 months, but I'm not interested in revisiting Home anytime soon.



"Gamers don't want to walk around a 3D virtual world to access content, they want easy accessibility."



I agree with this statement.

Jordan Laine
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"But while 17 million is a big number, it's still only about a third of PlayStation Network's 50 million worldwide users. And the number of active Home users -- a figure Sony reveals to dev partners under NDA -- is somewhere even lower than the registered user mark."



Logic automatically dictates this as there is no way the active numbers could out number the registered. Also, 17 million registered users is a moot statistic. Give up the (probably) embarrassingly low active monthly users number Sony.

Kris Graft
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Yes, logic dictates that, but I noted it anyway! :)



In defense of Home, I don't think that more developers (who are allowed to see this number) would be returning to develop for the service -- or signing up to support it in the first place -- if the active user amount was that embarrassing. But who knows... it's all under wraps by Sony.

brandon sheffield
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...unless Sony were providing incentives for it.

Scott Galloway
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they should hold contests or something to draw more people into it. let them select their own music stations like with Pandora for free, that kind of thing. maybe link the netflix instant viewing into the home so you can walk to the theater and sit down for a movie


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