A little over a month ago at the L.A. Games Conference, Sony was showing off Sodium 2, a new game on PlayStation Home; unfortunately, the conference the coincided with the beginning of the PlayStation Network outage. Early adopters of the PlayStation 3 might remember PlayStation Home as a kind of Second Life lite massively multiplayer online role playing game. This is no longer the case. While there are certainly comparisons to be drawn to alternate reality type online games, PlayStation Home is all about gaming. That is why Sony was at the LAGC, to let developers know that they have a new platform to deliver their games to their customers.
The advantage to putting a game on Home over the PlayStation Store or a competitor’s Arcade or indie games list is that developers can build a virtual world to help contextualize their games. Similar to a Disney store or a Build-a-Bear workshop, a themed store offers many advantages over just being on a list or in a catalog. It also offers other revenue streams in the form of micro-transactions for virtual merchandise, etc. Some of the companies with a presence already in the Home universe are Activision, EA, Capcom, Konami, LucasArts, Namco and Ford to name a few. The Sodium One and Sodium 2 games are a couple of great exclusive games currently on Home.
While there is still a beta tag on the PlayStation Home logo, the experience now is a lot different than it was a year ago. There are a lot of new areas, one of which is Aurora. UK virtual publisher, nDreams, recently launched the floating archipelago within the Home virtual world. It is free to enter and visitors can check out the views, play games, win rewards and even buy their very own floating island. In the first six weeks, Aurora has received over a million visits. Many of the areas offer free games and avatar items but the experience is greatly enhanced by purchasing the additional content.