Who would have thought that a virtual social network would actually make a profit on a console? When Sony launched PlayStation Home as a beta platform back in 2008, it seemed more like a chat tool than a money-making machine. After all, you could create a virtual representation of yourself, dress up your apartment, and then waltz out into the open and chat with other PlayStation 3 gamers. It was a neat way to communicate and to see what upcoming games had to offer by way of specialized "zone."
But now it's 2010 and apparently this virtual social tool is bringing in the green. "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," said PlayStation Home director Jack Buser. "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."
But it's not all about the virtual goods. He also added that there are over 50 virtual Home spaces, areas where gamers go to check out exclusive content from one particular title. These spaces are "rented" by the publishers, obviously used as a promotional tool in their overall ad campaign. Now throw in additional numbers that include 14 million users who've installed and stepped into the PlayStation 3 virtual environment at least once. That's a huge audience considering the average user spends roughly 70 minutes within the Home environment. It's also a good reason why publishers are showering Sony with cash.
Currently Sony is looking to expand Home into actual games, allowing players to unlock special items or features that could be used in the Home environment. The idea could also be reversed: player activities within Home would unlock rewards within games. "It's this whole idea of expanding the world of your favorite games inside Home," he said. "That's another big pillar of our strategy moving forward."