Through each area I explored, different types of people seemed to be occupying it. One thing I’m left to assume that all Home users have in common is they’re all visual communicators. Sitting behind a PC on a message board just isn’t for them. It also seemed like a lot of the demographics seemed to be under 18, so maybe they don’t have a computer of their own. That’s not to say there aren’t older users on Home, because there is. I’ve stumbled upon quite a few Playstation Home fan sites and it’s remarkable how big Home’s user base is. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Homestation Magazine, a Home fan site that releases a magazine about once every month, then pick your jaw up off the floor and come back and read the rest of my article.
On my time back on Home I’ve come to realize it isn’t the failed experiment everyone thinks it is. Home is just appealing to a completely different gamer, one that we don’t communicate with as much. I’ve come to think of it like this. All of us have our websites or forums that we go to on a daily basis. You could say for some users PlayStation University is their ‘home’. When you think about it, Home has all the aspects of a well developed video game website, it’s just in a 3D environment. Home’s current state has users logging on regularly that consider Home to be their ‘home’. While we may play a game, then log off and get on the computer to go back to our usual news feed or forum, Home users just log back into Home. With live news feed updates and trailers being updated, their not missing out on anything PlayStation based.
So what’s with the bad reception?
So why doesn’t it appeal to the ‘core’ gamer? Well when you think about it, why would it? PlayStation Home is not a game. It’s more of a visual social interactive network with mini games built inside of it. It’s a PlayStation themed, 3D Facebook. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s a very good idea. One thing that I feel is missing from the overall PS3 experience is social interaction. Whenever I get on my PS3 usually people are doing their own thing, and I may get a message here and there. When I get on Live not only will I get messages from people, I get game invites, chat invites, party invites, it’s just a much more social experience, and it’s why people are still paying for Live than going to the free PSN. Through my time I was on home I realized the people here are the most social and interactive users on the PSN. What PlayStation Home tried to be was a more social aspect of Live, but what it did was separate users from the overall functionality of the XMB. You can either have this huge social experience… or you can have the full functionality of the game console. So when people launch Home they’re going into this huge social experience and deciding to lose out on everything else, that’s if they even decide to launch Home.
So what could bring the core gamer to Home? Personally, I think it’s already too late to convince them to come back and give it another shot. There’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed. While loading times for each area was pretty good, simple things like pulling up the tablet access menu (which use to be a PSP) lags every single time. Loading users characters also still take an incredibly long time, even if you already downloaded that article of clothing before when you seen it on a different user. Things like that can gradually be updated and fixed.
When Sony finally does decide to launch Home outside of beta it can’t be kept in the isolated state it is currently in. While this is probably a long shot, if Sony could figure out a way to get rid of the loading times, why not have the option to launch into Home every time you turn on your PS3? I’m talking seamless integration between the XMB and home. That’s of course if they nailed it down to loading up almost as fast as the PS3 does now. If that could be integrated without any limitations, you’ll get rid of the isolation between the two. The PS3 would finally have that social aspect for every user, while having full control of their PS3. It’s a long shot that it could be implemented properly, but I feel like that’s how most users looked at it back when it was announced. People didn’t assume it was going to be a pain to load every single time.
At a reported 17 million users, Sony launched Home with not much to do, and it was a driving factor that has hurt it. You could also say Home was announced prematurely. Remember the GDC 2007 presentation with all the features that we still don’t have today? Looking back on it now it seemed like an idea that they just started developing for. The early announcement hurt Home to the point where they had to rush it out there for the user because they didn’t want people to start losing interest. What they did was release an unfinished product that made a lot of people lose interest anyway. While Home is doing good and just recently seen it’s highest activity level, without a doubt they’re missing out on a big market. Oh yeah, and when are they adding those trophy rooms?
Do any of you guys use Home? What could bring you back if you don’t? Any suggestions for the project? Let us know in the comments below.