Ask anybody what they think about PlayStation Home
and you'll likely get one of two reactions: "What is that?" and "Meh." For PlayStation Home director Jack Buser, however, it's quite the accomplishment -- a "very good business model for PlayStation, and quite profitable," he told Gamasutra
"With numbers like we have, it goes without saying that Home has been a huge success for our company, something that we have been very proud of." The numbers he's talking about look pretty decent on paper: there are over 100 games on the service, the average user session is about 70 minutes, there are over 50 unique spaces available and 14 million people have at least stepped foot in Home once. Not bad, but it's all about the context -- do people play those games? Do people explore those unique spaces? How many of those 14 million are actual active users?
"We haven't talked too much about the platform itself, but what we have said is that every mature virtual item we have ever created has been profitable," Buser said. "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." So it's very much a long-tail thing, then?
Look, you could probably present the numbers in any way possible and spin the service as a success, but for us, the real success is its ability to pull in new users, its effectiveness as a marketing tool and its profits from the sale of virtual goods. Log in now and you'll no doubt find a community there, passionate about Home. But is it pulling in new users? Are marketers beating down the (virtual) door to get into Home? And how much does Sony really earn from the service annually? Until we get less vague statistics and hard numbers, we might never know.