When PlayStation Home director Jack Buser chatted with PSXE this past summer , we outlined a host of reasons as to why gamers should visit Home. The service continues to grow and expand at a rapid rate and if you haven't kept up, you don't know what you're missing. After speaking to Jack again today, two things have become apparent: 1. Home will continue to cater to gamers , and 2. the sky – and maybe a little beyond – is the limit.
Firstly, Jack wants to provide you with a microcosm of Home; a description of a growing social hub that, while currently accurate (and impressive), will continue to bend and flex with future upgrades:
Jack: "It's not just Home's two-year anniversary, it's the sheer number of games: we've announced Novus Prime, the Midway 2 was launched yesterday, and there are two more new games. One of them is Conspiracy from Jet Set Games. It's an action/puzzle game with infiltration and espionage; gamers will be going on raids and trying to steal info from companies. This is just one example; it's such an honor to have so many talented studios coming to the Home platform.
Sodium Two is coming too and if you look at the screenshots, I'm telling you, people don't believe it's a game in Home. We're constantly upgrading development tools for game makers, and we're constantly upgrading the client. We're really advancing. Two years ago, we couldn't have done this; the growth is huge and we'll have incredibly powerful game tools, faster loading, and things like inventory management for our power users to have lots and lots of inventory."
Jack went on to confirm two huge stats: 17 million users – and yes, he's pretty darn sure that's an accurate number – and an average session duration of 70 minutes. "You just lose yourself in this world of games and stuff; there's so much to do," he said. Most importantly, he says the Home team has recognized that gamers want games ; that they need the killer apps, and the connected experience is what separates Home from the rest of the industry.
Now, onto a few questions, mostly taken from recent PSXE reader comments:
PSXE: One common question we've seen is: "When will I be able to play the music and video content on my own HD in my own HomeSpace?"
Jack: "Check out the Ameratsu Yacht; the Hollywood Hills apartment. It just launched a couple days ago and it has a whole new technology: entertainment on demand (EOD). Developed by the LOOT team (they brought us the cool Ghostbusters stuff), they've created a system that allows video content to be played back in Home. It's capable of full-length video content. And it's totally on demand so you just go in, select what you want to play, and go. We've got all kinds of video content so you should definitely check it out."
PSXE: People often say there's so much new stuff, they feel a little lost. What strides have you taken – and are you taking – to make Home more fluid and user-friendly?
Jack: "The big innovation that we have in the client is the Home Navigator, which replaced the world map. The Navigator allows us to feature new content so if you're not sure where to go, go to the Featured Content tab. Then there's another tab there that says New and Recommended; I'd start there. It's where all the latest and greatest stuff is. Then, they can easily pop over to the games column and for an even more immersive experience, they can go to the Central Plaza. We let you know what's hot and new there, too."
PSXE: Recently, a Microsoft executive said Home is little more than a “nice chat room.” What do you have to say to that?
(Jack thought about the best way to answer this for a moment…we think he came up with the right reply)
Jack: "You know you’re doing well when your competition starts paying attention. I’ll leave it at that."
PSXE: In reality, how much further can Home really go? Where are the boundary lines?
Jack: "Okay, I can answer that in two parts:
First, practically- the progress we've made in the past couple of years really is just the beginning. We have so many games in development right now; the games you saw us announce this week are just a small handful of what's in development. Users can expect to see a ton of games for Home. You can expect to see continuous improvements to the client itself, which allows us to build games that weren't possible in the past. Just wait…there's so much stuff in development, whether it be from a technical or game standpoint. Frankly, it was really hard to select which games we would announce because there are so many; developers have found so much success from a business view.
Now, as for my vision for the future- I always like to say at developer conferences, 'if you want to know what games are going to look like in the future, look no further than Home.' Everywhere I go in Home, there's this continuous universe of games out there. This idea that you're in a universe of games – that are free – is big; you can see the industry moving towards these business models. We want to create an experience that gamers expect and to me, it's really exciting. Home itself is really pointing towards the future.
Let me put it this way: when I first saw Tron, sitting there as a youngster, I knew that that was the future. Running around in a universe of games. It has been a vision of the future for a while. And only with the power of the PS3 have we been allowed to realize it; that's why I get up in the morning. It's because I know we're pioneering the future of the industry."
It's always obvious that Jack is one of those guys who loves his job, and who will do everything in his power to develop that vision of his…and we all benefit from that work. I would normally elaborate a bit, but I'm saving it for an add-on editorial I'm going to write right now.
By the way, just a reminder in case you missed it during my Week in Review: Insomniac has asked us to hold off posting the results of our Q&A (concerning Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One ). We're waiting for a better publication time and also, we should be able to take some Resistance 3 questions from you guys at that time. 🙂