Microsoft’s UK marketing manager says the company has no plans to release a rival to Sony’s virtual meeting space.
Microsoft’s Stephen McGill is unimpressed by Sony’s efforts to create a virtual meeting room for PlayStation 3 owners. In fact, he doesn’t think Home does much more than your common or garden chat room.
McGill said that Microsoft wasn’t planning to make its own version of Home, adding that he wasn’t sure that Sony was getting much in the way of useful data from the Home experience. McGill’s comment refer to a common complaint about Home: that there simply isn’t enough to do. Of course, McGill is a Microsoft employee, so you’re not going to hear him saying overly positive things about Home, but even content developers for the platform say that it has had a few problems along the way.
The open beta for Home launched nearly two years ago, and since then it’s struggled to hold gamers’ attention. Last summer, Home’s then platform director, Peter Edward, admitted that the majority of PSN users never return to Home after their first visit. Kirk Ewing, a developer for PlayStation Home content developer Veemee, said that despite a multitude of content updates, there was still a perception that Home wasn’t very good.
Earlier this year, a question mark was raised over whether Sony was still able to get advertiser support for the service. Around 14 million users have tried Home, but unofficial figures suggest that the service has only 1.7 million return users. That’s not a small number, but it represents less than 4% of the 50 million or so people using PSN, and with other avenues of advertising available on the PS3, Home hardly seems like the most cost effective way of marketing something.
It wouldn’t surprise me if – contrary to what McGill might say – Sony is actually learning a great deal from the Home experience, even if a lot of it is learning through mistakes. With consoles makers courting casual gamers now as well as the traditional hardcore players, having experience in building virtual social areas may come in very useful. The real secret, however, is to get people coming back to the space time and time again, and that seems to be the part that Sony is yet to master.
Source: Games Industry