Who remembers Playstation Home? It was Sony’s attempt at mimicking the popular “Second Life” computer game. The online-only service ran on PS3 from 2008 until its close in 2015.
Looking back on the “game” experience, was Playstation ahead of the curve on it? Maybe too ahead for its own good? We believe it might have.
Think about it, Home was filled with microtransactions — too many, according to some critics — but that’s every free-to-play game now these days. Home was also a virtual hangout spot not unlike today’s video games, especially amid the pandemic. Inside Home, users could do everything from dance to play pool to even gamble (the casino public space was just as fun as top online sportsbooks elsewhere).
Nonetheless, Sony’s innovative ways with Home didn’t lead to success as the service was discontinued on Playstation 4. But hear us out, as technology continues to progress at break-neck speed, could Home be brought back? We wouldn’t rule it out. Playstation Home is tailor-made for the future of video games in more ways than one.
“Playstation Home” by IGN is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Will Blossom
We’ve been talking about the looming VR & AR revolution in gaming for some time. It hasn’t quite manifested yet, but we’re as bullish on the technology as ever. The tech WILL improve in due time and once it’s almost like-life, then we’ll be off to the races.
Speaking of which, it was technology, or lack thereof, that held PS Home back from reaching its true potential. For one, its graphics were largely lackluster. Two, Internet speeds weren’t up to par to support such a massive shared experience then. Three, Sony wasn’t nearly as invested in its paid Playstation Plus online gaming service as it is today.
That’s largely changed now. However, what could really take a PS Home-like experience to the next level is a simulated reality buffered by AR and VR (which Sony is tinkering with their own Playstation VR headset). The more real that games look, feel, and function like, the more it benefits a PS Home service meant to be a “home away from home”, which leads us to our next point.
Virtual Environments Are Becoming “Third Places”
Most people have two lives — their personal ones and a second with either work or school. However, video games are increasingly becoming a third life. Games are where they unwind and interact with friends and family not unlike going to the theater or watching a live sport.
Welp, PS Home was very much created with the intent for users to treat it as a “virtual life” — one that can be customized with no detail too small. But back in 2008, the world wasn’t ready for this alternate life yet. We already covered the technological shortcomings, but virtual games in general weren’t nearly as popular back then as they are today.
In part to eSports and the ongoing pandemic, video games are now ready for prime time. Seriously, they’ve never been more popular in history than they are today — with average game-play time expected to rise from 1.1 hours to 1.5 per day within the next five years, according to ARK Investments firm.
Heck, the concept of a “virtual hangout” is already a thing. A year ago, Fornite’s virtual concert featuring Travis Scott drew over 12 million players. The sheer success of that digital-only experience proves players are treating their games as a “virtual life.”
“Playstation Home” by Sony is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Social Networking Isn’t Going Away
Critics were quick to say PS Home was a “glorified chat room” — but really, is that even a bad thing? The same thing could be said about social networks, which have large user bases that spend copious amounts of time on them.
A second go-round of PS Home should try to take the social network blueprint (minus the data-hoarding and selling of ads) and tailor it to video games. You might be thinking, “wait, why do we need another social network, there’s already so many.”
Welp, humans are social creatures, plain and simple. There’s always going to be a market for services that allow us to interact with one another. It’s why new apps like Tik Tok and Clubhouse have sprung to success despite Facebook and Snapchat already being popular.
PS Home as a pseudo social network would strike a chord with gamers due to the novelty of the idea. Throw in advancements in VR/AR technology plus peaking cultural interest in video games, and welp, PS Home could be back before you know it.