PlayStation Home: Not What You Think
It’s easy to dismiss something when you don’t know much about it. Take the film The Mask for example; I say that I hate it, but why? Mainly because Jim Carey is in it, but I have never watched it to confirm that I dislike The Mask… I judge it because of what I think I know about it. Make sense? Hope so. If we have a look at the platforms available to play games on at the moment we have the different consoles, mobile phones, social networking sites and of course not forgetting just playing on your PC. The platform that I think everyone disregards without a second though is Playstation Home. I see you already reaching for the ‘close window’ button… don’t, read what I have to say, it will only take five minutes.
As those of you who listen to the DBR podcast I have recently got a new job, my first in the video games industry. I am now working for a developer/publisher called nDreams, who are one of the biggest publishers within Playstation Home. It’s a great opportunity within an area that I want to pursue but please don’t worry, I’m not going to just say how great our projects are, I’m just trying to give you a bit of knowledge as to why I am having to take another look at Playstation Home.
Now some of the main reasons that the mainstream have stayed away from Home as far as I can see is due mainly to the launch. Sony really shot itself in the foot with a buggy launch and not much to do when you did finally download the different spaces. You could play chess, draughts, spend money on virtual items for your avatar, or just be bombarded with advertising messages. I know I spent an hour in Home and then didn’t log on again until I needed to do some research for my interview.
When I went back in I found that the Home I thought I knew had gone; yes there is still the need to download the new spaces before you visit them but there are a lot more of them with interesting things to do. There also seems to be this myth that nobody spends any time on Home but after the first day in my new job I learnt that certainly wasn’t the case. nDreams’ flagship space, Aurora, has recently just passed the milestone of having one million unique players since it launched in March 2010. That’s a pretty big number right? People come to Aurora to chat with people they have met, play some mini-games that allow your character to level up within the space – unlocking rewards that could come in the shape of clothing items, space items or even companions that follow you around.
That may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea and I can completely understand that, but if you think Home is purely mini-games then I would kindly ask you to think again. There is a 4v4 multiplayer FPS called Bootleggers ’29, and although it’s certainly no Battlefield it shows that people are trying to do different things in Home. Sodium 2 from Lockwood Publishing is a very good futuristic racing game, along the lines of Wipeout, where you can set new times, challenge your friends and rank up, increasing the quality of your racing ship. Lockwood are also set to release Mercia: Fractured Realms, the first RPG to be set within home. After having played the demo I was pretty impressed.
Two weeks ago if you had asked me if I wanted to jump onto Playstation Home I would have probably laughed in your face. Now I am enjoying the time I spend in Home and not just the bits I have to for work. I thoroughly enjoy some of the games and I have already met some great people in the vocal, passionate Home community, and although you still find throngs of male avatars crowding around the female avatars you will find most of the people on there are pretty nice if you do just want to have a conversation.
The biggest problem Sony has with Home is now the fact that the mainstream audience don’t really want to know about it – they have already written it off. I know for a fact that with Mercia from Lockwood, the Dust 514 tie-in and also a couple of projects nDreams has in development that there would be some content that would certainly interest those who don’t use Home, if only they gave it a chance. So here is my plea to you, faithful Game Jar reader. If you find yourself with a spare half an hour, jump into Home, have a run around the Aurora Space, have a race in Sodium 2 or just head to the Casino area and play some poker. Give Home a chance, you never know, you may find it’s not quite what you thought.