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Profit not "driving force" for Home right now

Wed 27 May 2009 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
OnlinePublishing

Sony director believes platform must focus primarily on community and content

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

PlayStation Home's focus is firmly on producing content and growing its community, with chasing profit coming further down the list.

That's according to Peter Edward, director of the PlayStation Home Platform Group, who told GamesIndustry.biz he believed that monetisation of the PlayStation 3's virtual world environment would happen as a consequence of fulfilling the top two priorities.

"On the one hand, yes - Home is an ambitious platform and has been in development for some time, so obviously that's a lot of money," he explained, ahead of a speaking engagement at GameHorizon next month. "But it is a platform, it's not a single software product. We do have a profit and loss on Home, and obviously revenue is an important part of it, just like with anything else.

"But our belief is that if you make the community happy, and get good content on to the platform, if you get a platform that people want to keep coming back to, then the monetisation aspect of it will almost take care of itself.

"It's certainly not something that should be the driving force, not something that's the driving priority at this stage of development. We have to focus on making sure we're giving the community what they want, and making sure the platform itself is sufficiently capable and robust, and that the content is there. That's definitely our priority.

"That's not to say that we don't want to monetise the platform, and that we don't have plans to do so, but it's definitely a kind of consequence of getting all the other factors right, rather than being a driving force. We're not in it to make a quick buck from Home, and then move onto the next thing - Home is a strategic platform for PlayStation, and as such we're developing it."

But he did reveal that the micro-transaction model is proving effective, particularly for third parties who create that monetised content, with the recent release of Star Trek uniforms proving a notable attraction.

"From a third party's perspective it makes it worthwhile to produce those items in the first place," he said. "I can't give you any specific figures on how much has been sold - that's obviously a matter for our licensees - but there are plenty of items being made that are making money.

"I think there's enough content being given away for free on the Home platform that people don't feel forced into buying stuff, and the fact that they are buying things shows there's a market for it and that people like it.

"What's really interesting is that in some cases we're actually finding that the paid-for items are shifting more than the free items, and what that points to is that there's a value in the perceived exclusivity of an item - users can say they've paid for it and it gives them the opportunity to show their individuality a little more."

The full interview with Peter Edward, in which he also appraises the development of the Home platform since it entered open beta last December, is available now.

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