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Home will trigger free-to-play on consoles

Home director says redesigned service will combine console experiences with new business models

Sony's Jack Buser believes the redesign of PlayStation Home will kick-start the growth of free-to-play business models on consoles.

In an interview with IndustryGamers, the PlayStation Home director explained that many of the games planned for the revamped service will use the sort of monetisation methods commonly found on the web and social networks.

"Many of the games are free-to-play or freemium," he said. "You can beat the whole game if you want and never spend a dime, but we will sell weapon upgrades, armour upgrades, enhancements, etc., as a series of micro-transactions."

The advantage of Home is that it can also leverage the power of the PlayStation 3 hardware to offer more complex and immersive games than those normally associated with free-to-play.

"It's using the most cutting edge and creative business models that so many sessions at GDC are all about, while also giving a gameplay experience that's very much PlayStation - high definition, 3D, online multiplayer, action packed."

So far, Microsoft and Nintendo have failed to show enthusiasm for bringing free-to-play games to their consoles, and Buser sees Home as an opportunity for Sony to break new ground.

"I believe it's going to be viewed as a turning point in the industry where we finally started to see these business models from the web actually take hold on consoles," he said.

"It's a huge differentiator for the PlayStation 3. You could not build these types of games on other consoles because they don't have a platform like Home."

Home also offers a solution to the rising cost of development on console platforms. Buser claims that a team of 6 to 10 people can build a "full-on game that looks like a console game" using Lua programming language in around 6 months.

"And it's monetizing immediately," he adds.

"I'm a big games historian and read lots of books on game history. If you fast forward 10 years, it is my personal belief that games will look a lot more like what's going on in PlayStation Home than what they typically look like today."

Home currently has 23 million registered users. The redesign will launch this autumn.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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