Owners of the PlayStation 3 may have noticed an automatic update for their consoles today informing them that PlayStation Home is now closed and the icon gone from the XMB menus. What launched in 2008 was an experiment from Sony on community and profitability in Home, but six years after its launch, the service has run its course and Sony locked the front door for good today.
Many gamers may not even notice the absence of PlayStation Home as it was never an overwhelmingly popular service, an odd curiosity at best. Originally announced by Phil Harrison, then head of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, at GDC 2007, demonstrations on how the service will affect gaming as well as social interaction, movies and music were shown. Players would be able to build their own apartment with items provided and ones they could purchase. The player might buy a stereo or big TV for their virtual apartment and then showcase their own music or videos on this TV for friends who came to hang out in the digital pad. Trophies earned in games could be displayed on shelves, boasting in their bronze, silver, gold or platinum brilliance.
Even though the community hub of PlayStation Home was seen by many as odd, it was a profitable enterprise for Sony. PlayStation Home director Jack Buser toldGamasutra in 2010 that, “We’ve released over 5,000 virtual items on the platform, and we know that once those items reach maturity, they are profitable. So you see us creating a tremendous amount of virtual items, because it is such a high margin business for us to be in.” Players could buy accessories for their avatars such as a “Clank” backpack from the Ratchet & Clank franchise and so on.
The profitability of the service caused Microsoft to take notice as they launched a service called Game Room, which took cues from the PlayStation Home service. The Inquisitrcovered the service to show that while it does not have the community hub and personal apartments that PlayStation home offered, it had a virtual arcade of classic games for Xbox avatar’s to play.
However, change comes to all things. According to Sony, the closure announcement of PlayStation Home was due to “a shifting landscape” when they made the official announcement on the PlayStation Forums. Content ceased development and release after November 12, and after December 3, no content could be downloaded. The complete shut down of the service was slated for March 31, 2015.
While it is doubtful that a comparable service will make its way to PlayStation 4, no company will back away from anything while there is still money on the table. And if Sony can find a way to make an experience that is both engaging and profitable, you can be sure the door for PlayStation Home may be closed and locked, but the key is still in the door.
[Image Source | PlayStation Home]