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PlayStation Home gets an extreme makeover

Forget iteration. PlayStation Home is about to undergo a full-on renovation.

This fall, the PS3 social gaming platform will be relaunched with a brand-new central hub and accompanying neighborhoods. The goal: to put games at the center of everything. While that sounds like a perfectly reasonable aspiration, it was one that the team at Sony (admittedly) overlooked when initially building this platform.

“At its core, PlayStation Home has always been and will always be a community platform for the PS3,” says Jack Buser, director of Home. “What we’ve realized is, communities of gamers congregate around, shocker, games, and with 20/20 hindsight that seems painfully obvious, but it wasn’t always obvious to us.”

So bubble machines and cabbage patch dances aren’t enough to keep the crowds coming back for more? Apparently not.

“We tried everything with Home. We tried building lounges, we tried TV shows and videos,” Buser says, “and it became clear to us that games were the killer app for forming community on the PS3.”

With that in mind, the team went back to the drawing board. In their words, they pressed “the detonate button” on the current Home. They talked amongst themselves about “minimizing the time to fun.” Despite having 22 million users worldwide, they knew they had to rebuild Home in order to make it everything they hoped it would be. So they rethought (and please forgive the marketing parlance) Home’s “core pillars.” What they ended up with, in Buser’s words:

1. Games. “These are games you can play inside PlayStation Home. They are primarily free to play. They tend to be very social. They use constructs from social games, but build those constructs on top of core game experiences like racers and FPSs and all kinds of cool games that people come to expect.”

2. Total Game Integration. “We had integration with Killzone 3, such that if you did something in Home you could unlock points in the actual retail game of Killzone 3. Simultaneously within that strategy we’re working with developers so that if you do something within the game it could unlock content in Home. Red Dead Redemption is a great example of that, where you can unlock cowboy gear in Home based on activity in the game. So you can imagine games where you’re doing something in Home and you’re unlocking content in your game, you’re doing something in your game and you’re unlocking content in Home, and you start to form this continuous experience between the game and Home that can only be done on PS3.”

3. New Core Experience. “We have placed so much emphasis and made so much progress in bringing over 230 games to the platform, and we have Total Game Integration with a growing number of titles [including Dead Island], which is huge for us. Now we need to re-factor the core experience of Home to scream this new message. We want people to come into Home to be presented with a first-time user experience that says, ‘You, gamer, have come to the right place. This is a place that is built for you and is filled with a world of games. That’s what this is all about.’”

It’s the new core experience that’s at the center of the planned Home renovation. Click through to the next page for a first look…

18 comments

  • Letter11 - August 23, 2011 10:59 a.m.

    No way a re-design for Home? I'm so excited to continue never using it!
  • BigWillis - August 23, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    Or they could just let it die and spend the development time on getting cross game chat working and making PSN as good as Xbox Live or maybe making it better.
  • ollyn - August 23, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    Apparently it's making them a fair bit of money in some micro transactions, where as features like cross game chat won't.
  • iluvpkmnmonday - August 23, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    This may cause me to actually log in to Home for a second time, just to see.
  • db1331 - August 23, 2011 12:14 p.m.

    I've owned a PS3 for about 5 months now, and I don't even know what Home is. Something tells me I should be glad.
  • forestfire55 - August 23, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    GOD people! Just give it a chance. They are obviously trying very hard to appeal to us gamers. I think the least we can do is to stop playing black ops for 11 hours in a row and try something new for a change. I think the ideas for the current PSH had good ideas but faild to deliver it to the; hardcore gamer, casual gamer, or mostly any gamer. I like the idea of actual game baced games and actual live football or hocky etc. in the sports walk, if you bring a couple of friends over it sounds real fun, not play for hours on end fun, but every other day fun, and I think there should be more games like that.
  • CaptainUSA - August 23, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    I have always wanted to try Home.
  • Pocotron - August 23, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    mite be cool. I tried it out before, and while it was fun with the right people, it got pretty boring rather quickly.
  • chad-munn - August 23, 2011 2:51 p.m.

    hahaha. Dear Jack, DUUUUHHHHH!!!!! When you spend a few hundred thousand dollars telling every press event crew that puts a microphone near your face that Home is a "huge success" and "millions of PS3 owners use it" you may want to stop long enough to wipe the bulls&*# off your eye lashes and realize that when millions of PS3 users log on- see that is SUCKED and log off... it's not a success. We don't use our PS3's as virtual malls because... because... it was a STUPID idea from the initial concept. A redesign was called for by the end of the first week they put Home out there. I'm very glad to see they FINALLY stopped lying about it and have DONE something about it! Make it cool- make it about GAMES and then gamers will come to it naturally. Wow. Some room full of morons actually got paid a LOT of money to come up with Home originally and for years after. Think about that... paid to make something laughably horrible. Wow. Glad that's over.
  • Thequestion 121 - August 23, 2011 3:10 p.m.

    This is pretty cool :)
  • laserwulf - August 23, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    Home is a neat concept, but it felt like the developers of it were simply out of touch with what would appeal to hardcore gamers. XBL avatar Lightsabers show that we'll pay real money for virtual goods, but the one time I looked around in Home's mall, all I saw was boring, generic crap. Likewise, I'm not opposed to socializing in an online environment (the throngs in WoW would probably agree); just give me someplace I -want- to go to. SCEA really needs a person (or team!) to act as a community manager just within Home, to dream up and oversee events and in-environment resources that are relevant to us. With PAX coming up, Sony should be promoting the hell out of itself. Why not a 'virtual booth' for those of us who can't make it to Seattle? Codes distributed at the con for unlocking PAX-shirts for your avatar? The possibilities are endless.
  • ReasonableFanboy - August 23, 2011 6:47 p.m.

    Aaaaaaaaand I still don't give a damn.
  • InfinityPrimo - August 24, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    I thought the same damn thing... So...its going to suck...less?
  • Darth_Griffin - August 23, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    Second Life for Playstation?
  • CitizenWolfie - August 24, 2011 1:39 a.m.

    I wish Sony would just call this one a loss. I can't imagine all those core gamers who hated it in the first place will be flocking back once it's had an overhaul. And let's face it, if you're using your time faffing around on Home, you're not actually playing proper video games - Avatars and Miis work because they're just a side thing and are implemented into actual games. Your Home character is limited to Home.
  • Joco84 - August 24, 2011 3:56 a.m.

    unless Sony make it so the PS3 loads up Home upon turning on the console, I cannot see anyone actively going into Home as a choice.
  • DrRock - August 24, 2011 8:22 a.m.

    I still have no desire to use Home. Did it a few times to grief people and that was about the extent of my use of Home.
  • nib0rtehGRfan - August 24, 2011 2:22 p.m.

    The Hub? Copyright infringement!

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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