Love it or loathe it, PlayStation Home is one of the most ambitious products that Sony has ever produced. The online virtual world launched in late 2008, after being revealed by former Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison at GDC 2007. But its roots date back much further than that, as the basis of the idea was originally conceived as a multiplayer mode for PlayStation 2 exclusive The Getaway: Black Monday.
“The idea was that you would come into a pub, a typical East End pub, and meet up with a group of other likely fellows to decide on quests that you were going to go on, and go off with these people and complete those quests,” PlayStation Home’s global senior director Peter Edward told Eurogamer.net. “Although that project didn't happen, it was clear that there were some legs in the idea of this sort of hub to meet other gamers. And that's where the idea for the Hub came from, which was the original name for what turned into the Home project.”
Despite being considered a failure in most hardcore gaming circles, Sony’s ambitious virtual world has long been considered a profitable part of the PlayStation business. It makes money through microtransactions, with items, tickets, and minigames available to purchase directly via the PlayStation Store. However, while it’s true that the platform is commercially viable now, it’s not necessarily clear whether the project has been a financial success overall.
“Home is profitable,” Edward continued. “However, over the lifetime of Home, that's a different story, because obviously Home has been going for a very long time and the cost of setting it up in the first place was pretty high. So the profit and loss looks very different now to what it did back in the early days when our focus was on producing something cool and not necessarily getting revenue from it, and also we were still learning the ropes as far as running the platform is concerned, and producing the software development kit.”
Allegedly, the online platform was very much Phil Harrison’s pet project, and he invested an outrageous amount of money into the London Studio-driven endeavour. With the executive now working at Microsoft, though, a follow-up for the PlayStation 4 seems unlikely. “My suspicion is that it will probably still have some kind of a life on the PS3, but will eventually be sunsetted in two or three years time," former regional business manager Daniel Hill told the website. As far as we’re concerned, that’d be a shame, as there were definitely elements of PlayStation Home that deserve to be re-explored.