Dust off the cobwebs draped thickly over PlayStation Home and there’s the architecture in place for an abundant social network.
Which raises questions as to why after so many years, is Home still in its’ developmental infancy?
When Home was initially launched in the early years of the Playstation 3, the social platform seemed like a bounty of opportunity, connecting gamers on a social basis that was previously limited and all whilst on the devise that brought them there in the first place.
But several years on, really, how many people do you know who consistently use Home?
With absurd download and loading times, Home just doesn’t offer the kind of instantaneous access that is required of a connective service. Not to mention the limited ground space of the environment itself.
Evidently there is little divide on the matter, as talking to long time gamers Scott Whitehurst and Jason Smith illustrated the widespread dismay with the service:
“PlayStation Home is like an MMO version of the Sims. But it’s not very good. Most people I know (gamers) haven’t touched it with a barge pole and I personally have been on it three times, for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Some games offer it specific support and make it seem more desirable (like unlockable furniture and clothes) but at the end of the day it’s an under-populated 3D marketplace with little appeal to most gamers.”
“To be honest I only ever used it once when I first got my ps3 and it was rubbish. It’s like an MMORPG with no purpose…pointless. I’ve been on it a few times and there was just people asking how old people were. You go on walk around a bit and not really accomplish anything with your time, and only receive abuse from the people who are there. Sony never really did anything with it to get it to take off, if they actually invested some time in it themselves and worked on it, it could probably have been fairly decent for socializing with other gamers. But it’s not really what I go on my ps3 for anyway, I don’t want some crappy avatar walking round representing me and talking to strangers. I go on to play games. To summarize, it’s crap.
An evident lack of support and intelligent integration have resulted in many a gamer becoming disillusioned with the potentially interesting service. So what next for Home?
If recent evidence is anything to go by the service is certainly not dead. With third party support springing into motion so late in the console generation, it’s fair to assume that the old dog may adopt some new tricks.
The interesting nature of social multiplayer spaces is clearly hot on many developers’ minds, as is evident in the release of content for Home such as the Spunland addition of weird and wonderful characters inside the service.
Described by its’ developers as “the kind of place Tim Burton might wake up to if he fell off the Magic Roundabout, giving his head a bit of a bump on the way down.” Spunland is certainly a breath of fresh air to the social environment.
“Available for free through PlayStation Home, madmunki has brought to life a living, breathing – completely off the wall – multiplayer space, where players can meet others, kick it back, and simply see what spun can be had.” Seemingly in the spirit of slightly off the wall fun, the addition of Spunland is just the kind of creative content the platform needed.
It seems a strange occurrence then, when a service that has been assumed barren for some time now, suddenly begins to receive a stream of new content. This is unlikely coincidental and likely equates to a push from developers to get in on the action whilst it begins its’ ascendancy into the next console cycle.
With an increased emphasis being placed on social interaction and connectivity in the next generation, Home may have a much more prominent positioning on Sony’s next home console. With the promise of instant social connection, the PS4’s capability to use Home effectively seems much more viable than that of the PS3.
After last month’s Playstation event, it is clear for all to see that a huge shift in Sony’s priorities is occurring. The importance of social connectivity is now vital to the company as can be deduced from every fibre of the new device, which is clearly why developers are so understandably eager to push content onto Home.
Playstation Home holds the potential to act as a players’ central profile and personal database, storing not only their PSN information and recorded gameplay (as a result of the new ‘share’ functionality), but also a plethora of information about the player, much like any social network.
With the increased spec of the new machine, it’s entirely possible for Home to deliver the kind of instant access and interconnectivity that it promised upon its’ inception.
Imagine it. A central hub within the console that can be instantly accessed at any time, holding all of your information: trophies, PSN data and glorious gaming triumphs. A hub that also acts as a social platform in which players can chat and as promised, challenge each other in relation to the games that they are playing. Speculative as it might be, it all sounds very promising. The potential for so many connective possibilities, all from the comfort of your own Home.
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Playstation obsessive and Red Bull fiend. Will play anything and everything. Max Payne champion, adequate FIFA player and hopeless driver. Currently studying Journalism at The University of Salford in the hopes of achieving game-reporting glory. A man can dream.