Sony Closing PlayStation Home
Sony’s take on a virtual world experience for PlayStation 3 users is finally coming to an end. After launching PlayStation Home in 2008 and spending the last six years trying to get people onboard, Sony has scheduled PlayStation Home to condemnation on March 31st, 2015.
Sony Computer Entertainment made the announcement in a post to the PlayStation Forums by a community manager. The heart of the announcement read:
Due to a shifting landscape, PlayStation Home will cease publishing new content on November 12, 2014. Gamers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to download content until December 3, 2014. As a token of our tremendous gratitude to the community, we will also be releasing a series of free content prior to the platform’s closure on March 31, 2015.
The announcement of PS Home’s closure in North America coincides with a similar announcement made for European PS Home users. It also comes one month after Sony announced that PlayStation Home in Japan would close on March 31st. PS Home content sales already ended in Japan on September 24th. The original Japanese announcement said that Sony Computer Entertainment America and Europe would independently determine the future of PlayStation Home. It didn’t take them very long to come to the same conclusion as SCEJ.
PlayStation Home launched in 2008 as a sort of PlayStation version of a Second Life-esque virtual world. When Home was first announced in at GDC 2007, it came at a point in time when Second Life was experiencing rapid growth and Sony was trying to keep pace with Microsoft’s massively popular Xbox Live online offerings. Instead, it never really found the big audience Sony was hoping for and eventually became more of a 3D chat room with microtransactions.
As someone who wasn’t on PlayStation Home, I can’t say that I’m going to miss Home. I could see the appeal of a free virtual world if my friends were there. However, when people turn on their PS3, they generally wanted to game (or watch Blu-Rays). Virtual worlds are fairly niche to begin with (Second Life’s best concurrent user count was 88,000) and I don’t think that putting it on a console was ever going to do much to broaden the user base of virtual worlds. If anything, the six-year lifespan of PS Home was longer than I would have expected.