Sony’s virtual world for PlayStation 3 gamers (called “Home”) is currently in beta status. While I’m not “Home for the holidays” (I don’t own a PS3), I’ve been reading about the early returns with the service. Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle had a Sunday article titled “Sony struggles with creation of its virtual world“. While there have been numerous challenges during the beta period, one analyst encourages patience:
Ted Pollak, a market analyst at Jon Peddie Research and portfolio manager for the Electronic Entertainment Fund, said users need to be patient with Home, which is bound to have numerous kinks in the beginning. He said it took other virtual worlds and online games like Second Life and World of Warcraft a while to get a handle on problems and address them.
I suspect that Sony’s foray into virtual worlds is based on the following objectives:
- Increase sales of PS3 consoles (e.g. if Home proves to be successful and popular, users may buy PS3 consoles to interact with friends – connect with them socially and participate in multi-user games)
- Differentiation from the competition – make the PS3 stand out from the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii
- Spur commerce – generate revenue (eventually) via transactions and advertising within Home
To me, a key factor in the success of Home will be the manner in which Sony integrates it into the gaming experience. It needs to be designed and presented in a way to encourage gamers to participate and be valuable enough that they want to return. I wonder if gamers will have the motivation (or interest) to put their favorite game aside to enter a virtual world.
On the other hand, if Sony were to unveil exclusive features (only available in Home) that could change things. Maybe it’s new release games that are initially exclusive witin Home. Or, it’s virtual goods or real-world prizes to encourage users to enter. Suffice it to say, it will be interesting to watch user adoption and growth.
Finally, here’s a nice overview/review on Home by Dean Takahasi of Venture Beat: