Last night Sony flipped the switch on the long awaited free digital community on the Playstation 3 called Home. If you have ever used Second Life or the Sims you pretty much get the idea of the experience you will find here with the addition of high definition graphics and a lot more advertising. The advertising appears in traditional forms like posters and videos throughout the environment but there will able to custom spaces created through their partnerships with Activision, Disney Eidos, Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts, THQ and UBISOFT. These custom themed spaces will center around games from those companies. Current only two are live for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Far Cry 2 with more planned to be released soon. Each player is also given he ability to customize their avatar’s look and own property which they can decorate to suite their taste. Here agin we will see partnerships with clothing from Diesel and furniture from high end designer Ligne Roset.
I spent time last night with all of this exploring the world and talking to some of the players who were doing the same. I came away from the experience clearly seeing the benefit to Sony in terms of advertising revenue but could not find an equally compelling reason for gamers to embrace it. They can find a more robust and far less branded experience in Second Life or other games like it. They can chat with my friends over the Playstation Network without the need to go into the environment. I see this as yet another case where when you are trying to build a community it will not flourish until you are able to create a solid value proposition for he community and give them something unique that will make them invest into the community and the world. Obviously with Home still in beta there is time to be able to fix this but all the plans I have seen only look to add more branded content which is sad because this could have been something that could have created a unique brand separator for them instead of just a cash cow.