Whether you think PlayStation Home is little more than an area for people to dance, decorate fake apartments and play ‘hunt the girl-gamer and chat her up’ (sadly I’ve witnessed all three on several occasions), Sony believe its been highly successful. To date, the other worldly realm of Home has 10million users though the definition of user hasn’t been clarified. The numbers could suggest a thriving community in Home or that a heck of a lot of people signed in once and never again. But hey, advertisers seem to love it and the 5,000 virtual items on sale in the fictional stores have all been profitable for Sony so yeah, in their eyes it’s definitely successful.
Microsoft has another, somewhat indifferent view: “It’s a nice chat room I guess, not an awful lot more,” Stephen McGill, UK marketing manager, told GamesIndustry.biz. “That’s not something that we’re looking at. I’m not sure what their learnings are from the Home experience.” I’m not sure of what can be learned from Home either. It may have game rooms (areas kitted out to resemble video games) thrown at it like there’s no tomorrow and shows that gamers will buy virtual merchandise but you could argue that both of these are already part of the Xbox 360 experience. Premium themes can be likened to game rooms – though without the walking around – and the Avatar marketplace is chocked full of stuff for your little man or lady. So it’s no wonder Microsoft see little value in Home. Neil Thompson, general manager of Xbox UK and Ireland adds: “The honest answer is that, online we’re following our own agenda. It’s been pretty successful for us over the last four or five years. We’re focusing on what we think we can drive and that’s where our energies are going to go.”
It needs to be said that such responses weren’t done in a spiteful manor. Even if Microsoft think little of Home, the fact is that it does generate a healthy amount of cash. And Home does have some cool features now and again too. Like how Sony’s stand at this year’s E3 was replicated in Home for PS3 patrons to peruse at their leisure, without the need for any plane ticket or hotel room of any sort. It wouldn’t work for the Xbox 360 to receive and all out copy of Home but if the online space really does begin to pick up speed in the near future, it would be interesting to see what Microsoft does in return.