Sony’s PlayStation Home is two years old. That’s a success in itself, but perhaps the service’s biggest accomplishment is how successfully it has overcome the initial cynicism and flourished into a money making business.
"From a business point of view, virtual items and microtransactions… it just works," Home’s platform director Peter Edward told Develop.
"We have tens of thousands of items, and they are making money. There are some developers solely working on Home now, which speaks a lot to the success we can create. There are developers making money from virtual items in Home, simple as that.
"But you’ve also got the free to play and freemium model. Sodium, the game by Lockwood, is a great example of that. They offer the first five levels of their game for free, but to get the other 45 you have to buy an item of clothing for your avatar to wear that unlocks that access. They’ve had a massive conversion rate – 25 per cent of players pay up."
However, there is still one obstacle Home is yet to completely overcome – the perception from some that the serif has been a flop. Fortunately it’s not a mindset that’s widely shared amongst the industry itself.
"I think a lot of the industry understands it – and I think there are a lot of people in the industry who don’t realise how much the others understand it," Edward added.
"So, there are 120 studios using the HDK and making content with it. That’s a huge community already using the platform. Having said that, there is a section of the development community that doesn’t realise. That’s why we’re trying to get the news out there.
"Everybody knows that current-gen flagship console development is not cheap – that’s why mobile and handheld development is so popular right now, the barriers to entry are so much lower. But Home offers an opportunity to get on a console when you have a web/mobile budget. That appeals to indie developers because they can get something on a console for a realistic response and in a good timescale."