Can Home survive on PS4? We check the pulse of Sony’s virtual resort
There’s still no place like it… mainly because of all the body-popping dudes wearing shoddy avatar tees. Home is a bold experiment that – against expectation – has remained a quiet, slow-burning mainstay in the PS3 ecosystem, amassing a huge catalogue of content and fervent fans. And yet it’s the one thing nobody’s talking about amidst all the next-gen predictions. So the question is: with PS4 packed full of new socially focused features, will Home survive on next-gen?
Can Home survive on PS4?
Joel Kemp, co-founder of Home game and item publisher Lockwood, actually thinks PS4 will boost the virtual community’s current status: “I still think the PS3 is a phenomenal piece of hardware and we’re hoping that as it gets much cheaper, then it’ll get even more popular, which could be [great] for Home. We might not even see Home peak for another [few] years as it opens up to users in territories like China and India.”
“We see the Home model
as more in line with the
future of gaming in general”
Kemp’s fellow founder, Halli Bjornsson, is equally positive about the untapped markets for the service, but remains more cautious: “It really depends if Sony wants to launch Home for [other] territories. You talk about the future of this sort of format: from a developer’s point of view, Sony gave us a great platform, a big user base, solid infrastructure. We see the Home model as more in line with the future of gaming in general. It’s all about smaller devs delivering premium content. This sort of business model is something we hope Sony takes forward.”
Like Lockwood, nDreams – creator of experimental Home alternate reality game Xi – was one of the first studios to hop onboard. CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh (former creative director of Eidos and current director of TIGA) is another huge believer in Home’s here and now, which he maintains is “the most beautiful virtual world ever made, by some distance” with “[the] most passionate community I’ve ever been involved with”.
Caspar Thykier, founder of Veemee (another studio that creates spaces on Home), says it’s not just the community of players, but also the continued work of developers that makes the virtual plaza such an enduring place: “There’s a vibrant, if small, community of developers on the platform, and we all know each other and get on well. We come at Home with different sensibilities and flavours of content, which is fantastic for the community.”
It’s understandable, then, that these three companies see it as in everyone’s interests to keep Home alive, even as next-gen dawns. Not least for the players accumulating vast inventories of items. “I think it would be an absolute travesty not to build on the investment that Sony has made and the huge potential that Home has,” asserts O’Luanaigh. Bjornsson agrees that Home is all about the people: “It’s really about the users more than the games, the content. If you don’t like it, it’s a bit like saying you don’t like people.”
“Home generates significant revenue and
drives the most incredible passion I’ve
seen. All without any marketing from Sony”
“Home generates significant revenue and drives the most incredible passion I’ve seen. All without any marketing from Sony,” adds O’Luanaigh. “When was the last time you heard it talk about Home at a conference? In my head, Home is just version 0.1 of something very special that will see hundreds of millions of active users [across multiple platforms] in the future.”
Kemp expands on this idea of Home venturing into different channels, suggesting the cloud as a possible new frontier. “There’s obviously Gaikai,” he says. “That could potentially provide access [to Home] via PS4. You might have a higher-end avatar system. That sort of cross-pollination between PS3 and PS4 would be awesome.”
Home’s heaving portfolio of content is something that’s been carefully crafted by developer and player alike, and it’s this collaboration that may see the service on to PS4. Now who’s for a hopeful Running Man of shame-faced anticipation?