PlayStation Home ‘was a massive success that everyone thinks was a failure’

Sony’s virtual world PlayStation Home is wrongly regarded as a flop, one of its key developers has said.

Despite its 38m downloads, with 19m active users and 3m monthly users at its peak, the service has already started to wind down and will be terminated at the end of March.

"It was a massive success that everyone thinks was a failure," former Home architect Oscar Clark told TechRadar. I genuinely think it was successful from a commercial point of view. It showed you could make money.

There were like 20, 30 studios that made money out of home. Like five or six that made a million and a half a year, which is not big in the scheme of things, but individually those studios did pretty well. It made it possible for companies like nDreams and Lockwood to be companies at all.”

nDreams in October outlined the extent of its own success within Home, although Clark did go on to point out some of the struggles the service had to contend with, such as compromises on key technical goals.

"It wasn’t as successful as it could have been for a variety of reasons,” he added. Getting a clear strategy was difficult and it ended up being a compromise. We were investing in the experience over time, but the one thing we would never get was the one thing that really mattered.

"I needed to be able to exit a game to [get to] Home. Everyone thought it was going to be the other way around. Everyone thought it would be a game launching into a new game from Home, but that wasn’t the key. The key was getting away from your game. You finish playing your game, you go to Home so you can meet the other players, talk in character, have a bit of a laugh, then go and play something else. And we couldn’t’ convince the Japanese team to do that, the system software guys.

There were a whole bunch of technical reasons, but the primary thing was that there wasn’t the political will internally to really invest in it being a replacement of the cross-media bar. It needed to be the place where you chose the content and where you returned to after."

The service was also dogged by the spectre of unfulfilled promises.

"When Phil Harrison stood up and said we were going to have trophy rooms… we couldn’t have because, unless it was mandated, no one’s going to make a 3D trophy for every trophy you got in a game," Clark added.

"And the live TV sets were actually impossible at the time, we found a way to do it later – video texture on a screen – but it wasn’t physically possible when it was announced.”

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