News Article

Talking Point: Will PlayStation Home Survive the Transition to PS4?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Dancing into the next generation

The word ‘social’ cropped up a lot during Sony’s big PlayStation 4 coming out party late last month, but we’re still yet to learn how PlayStation Home will be integrated into the next generation platform – if, indeed, it will be incorporated at all. The virtual world was Sony’s big bet on casual gaming during the course of the current generation, but while the PlayStation 3-based endeavour has built up a loyal following, has the manufacturer quietly brushed the concept aside?

PlayStation Home remains a core pillar of the PS3, with it still receiving noteworthy updates to this very day. Those of you that remember the virtual world as little more than a bowling alley and people doing the running man may be surprised by the appearance of the platform these days – it’s become something of a haven for free-to-play games, with genuinely enjoyable distractions like Home Tycoon and Uproar proving surprisingly compelling time-wasters between big-budget Blu-ray games.

The biggest new update to arrive in the social district revolves around Pottermore, the online reading experiment created by Sony in collaboration with author J.K. Rowling. The new space will essentially allow you to explore Diagon Alley and participate in mini-games with your friends. For fans of the Harry Potter universe, it should prove to be a particularly enjoyable addition. But while the hotspot continues to expand on PS3, is the manufacturer’s silence a telling indication of the platform’s fate on PS4?

The company failed to even acknowledge the virtual world during its PlayStation Meeting press conference, and subsequent interviews with multiple executives resulted in more blanks. Considering the emphasis that the manufacturer placed on community during its reveal event – talking about video sharing, streaming, and more – its absence was pronounced. But the platform holder’s continued investment in PlayStation Home introduces an interesting counterpoint.

Despite being subjected to waves of ridicule in its early days, the virtual world has blossomed. Sony has listened to the complaints of its user base, and the platform has grown exponentially since its introduction in 2008. Avatars are now able to adopt more interesting personalities thanks to the implementation of full-body costumes (which essentially revamp the original art style) and companions. Furthermore, spaces are no longer empty shells – they are filled with activities and things to interact with.

The improvements have resulted in an active playerbase. While numbers aren’t readily available, the platform is widely believed to be one of the PS3’s stronger money-spinners. This was alluded to by director Peter Edward in an interview published by Develop back in 2011. “From a business point of view, virtual items and microtransactions – it just works,” he said. "We have tens of thousands of items, and they are making money.”

Some studios – such as Nottingham’s Lockwood Publishing, for example – have actually built their entire business around PlayStation Home. And if you log into the virtual world at any time of the day, you’ll spot thousands of likeminded players roaming around with premium goods that they’ve either obtained by engaging in marketing campaigns or purchased through the PlayStation Store. Edward clearly wasn’t exaggerating, and we wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers had grown over the past couple of years.

As such, it seems almost implausible to think that PlayStation Home would be scrapped in the next generation. The brand itself may have been damaged irredeemably in its early days among hardcore gamers, but its core idea – a persistent online world that serves as both an interactive chatroom and a vehicle for expensive microtransactions – feels like it’s only just unlocking its full potential. So, why hasn’t Sony mentioned how the service will factor into the PS4?

Well, its recent PlayStation Meeting was clearly designed around appealing to core gamers, and it may have wanted to avoid anything that would even threaten to upset them. Considering the backlash to Media Molecule’s demonstration, the manufacturer may have been wise in that regard. But – much like most gamers expect new Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica projects to be revealed at E3 – it may also be saving the announcement.

A patent filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe last February for a service called ‘BigFest’ hinted that the manufacturer may be planning a new version of PlayStation Home for its next generation platform after all. While details are sketchy, the registration describes a social platform intended to bring gamers together. The project’s official website, BigFest.com, currently points to the UK version of the PlayStation.com homepage.

It seems perfectly possible, then, that Sony will take the lessons it learned from PlayStation Home and revisit them in a new format on PS4. Unshackled by the tarnished brand name of its current virtual world, it will have the opportunity to start afresh, while still repurposing the technological and infrastructural investments it’s made over the past five years or so.

For a system that’s been designed around social gaming, we just can’t imagine that the PS4 will ignore Sony's most community-driven initiative in years. PlayStation Home will almost certainly return – it just may have a different name and a more attractive art style next time around. And let’s hope that those promised Trophy cabinets make a comeback, too, eh?


Do you think that PlayStation Home will survive the transition to PS4? If so, how would you like to see the virtual world improve on the next generation system? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

Do you want PlayStation Home to return on PS4? (36 votes)

Yes, I still think there's plenty of potential for the service

58%

I'll try it out again, but I'm not bothered if it's scrapped

19%

No, it's a waste of resources

22%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (19)

Lionhart

#1

Lionhart said:

All of this speculation in meaningless because people aren't going to dump the PS3 and embrace the PS4 readily. In fact I know that I am not going to buy a PS4 until at least two to three years after it has been out. The PS4 lacks a lot of what I was hoping for in a PS4 system. No backward compatibility with the PS3 disc is absolutely unforgivable. However, I'm just really setting in with the PS3. The PS3 is still young and relative and I see no need to embrace the PS4 now anyway.

ShogunRokAdmin

#3

ShogunRok said:

I haven't been on Home for an extended amount of time in about two years, I think. It was an exciting prospect at first but numerous things held it back since day one. The article pointed out that Home has gotten a bad reputation among the hardcore and it's true. Unfortunately I don't think it'll ever shrug off that reputation, even on PS4.

belmont

#4

belmont said:

I only tried Home once or twice. I won't be really bothered if it was gone.

mclarenrob2

#5

mclarenrob2 said:

If they put more features into Home like they promised, such as Proper game launching ( where you can make a party on home, quickly go into the game and stay in that party,then return to Home )
You should also be able to put your own pictures and videos on in your personal space so you could virtually watch your videos with friends.

With the amount of RAM the ps4 has, there's no reason these features shouldn't be implemented.

odd69

#6

odd69 said:

agree, dont use it or care for it, its just a money trap anyway......

ItsOakley15

#7

ItsOakley15 said:

Pottermore is the only thing attracting me to this at the moment, to be honest i would prefer a full-world harry potter mmo style game,

rjejr

#8

rjejr said:

If they dont implement the trophies then I hope they dont bother, I cant read another 5 years worth of "when is Home getting trophies?" blog posts.

3Above

#9

3Above said:

With that logic its hard to see them getting rid of Home. Its not as bad as some would make it out to be. And its free. And considering how much people seem to love the miiverse i dont see why Home should go away.

NathanUC

#10

NathanUC said:

I'd be much more inclined to use home with the following improvements:
1. Load times need to be significantly improved. Not even half would be good enough I feel
2. More game integration (costumes, homes, etc)
3. trophies (seems so obvious that it's annoying we still don't have them)
4. Better friend integration. I'd like to be able to go to my friends houses and maybe leave them something while they are off line.
5. Did I mention faster loading?

Paranoimia

#11

Paranoimia said:

I used to use Home, but haven't in quite some time and I've deleted it from my system. I wouldn't miss it if it was gone, but I never quite understood the venom directed towards it. It's free, and you don't have to install it. It generates money for Sony from those who wish to make use of it.

Moaning about it it as pointless as moaning about the fact that your DVD player will play audio CDs even though you never personally make use of the feature. As I've said previously, I quite expect this ludicrous whingeing to move on to the PS4, with its social/sharing features and probably some other stuff too.

Justintime4u2bu

#12

Justintime4u2bu said:

I just started to really notice PSH but it could be significantly improved
And hopefully have more capabilities on PS4 as well.

Zat_Tagoshi

#13

Zat_Tagoshi said:

There is a few problem with the whole trophy system for PlayStation Home. 1) It's mainly a social interaction game. 2) It's updating every week. 3)They would have to update the trophy list every time a new game is brought out on PlayStation home. Now from my point of view, it would be more understandable if you obtain a certain trophy on a actual game such as Gods of War, Call of Duty, or anything of the sort; that it will unlock a reward in Home. But the rewards should be worth getting, not like a free t-shirt for your avatar. I have plenty of those.

tiffany__Starr

#14

tiffany__Starr said:

Im not so good in playing games so its better for them to bring back home for ps4, which i find it easy to play. Im hoping purchases will be carried over as well. If they will add Home Trophies will be great too.

lillynmarc

#15

lillynmarc said:

I have been using ply station home for 2 years now and made some good friends I will be sorry to see it go because I am house bound

Adwil24

#16

Adwil24 said:

I haven't been on Home for a while but decided to revisit for the traditional E3 outing and it's a great little world that must be bought over to PS4 but integrated into the whole system better. People really don't understand how much money it must generate. Plus most of the work is no longer done by SCEE now as the system has been turned over to many of Home's 3rd party devs.

stevev363

#17

stevev363 said:

Home has had a few events happen in North America coinciding with E3, the community manager left a week before for new ventures so his presence at E3 was sorely missed as well as no direct confirmation of Home on PS4 in the community forums which has lead to threads of doom and gloom on Home's future. Fact is Home is an APP just like Netflix or Crackle and should be exempt from online play regulations as other network games have needing PS+ to use the feature. Home has a very active community in all regions which are still receiving new spaces, content and developers each week. Contrary to belief Home is not run by third party developers but is supported by their weekly publications and outside advertisers who are increasing as of late, SCEE still has full control of the developers content and the community at large. Being someone who hops regions I see plenty of current and future growth happening, don't believe the hype over Home's demise as it's nothing more than rumor and speculation with no factual basis to any of it.

GrindheadJim

#18

GrindheadJim said:

It would seem to me that Sony has as much to lose as we do on this one.

Also, I concur with those that have suggested that it be an extension or alternative to the dashboard - that would be a huge improvement.

superjack41

#19

superjack41 said:

I'd love to see Home on the PS4, I had so much fun in there with friends and meet so many new friends in there. Well, money trap or not I still found it fun as hell. Of course some people find it as the boring rubbish evah but you can have a pretty good time if you're with the right people :')

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