GDC: Three spaces a month for Home

"Our competition struggles with community".

In a talk at the Game Developers Conference today, Jack Buser, director of PlayStation Home in the US, revealed that the social network will be launching three promotional spaces a month from here on in.

"You'll see about three new spaces launched a month - I'll be shocked if we ever go under that number, we have so much in the pipeline," Buser said.

He mentioned that a recent "good space" (we're guessing Resident Evil 5) had a quarter of a million visits a week in the US, with 75 per cent of visitors spending more than 10 minutes there - something that far exceeds consumer's usual involvement with advertising, he argued.

Space devlopment takes four to six months, and Sony has new technology that can't be seen in any space currently in Home, Buser said.

Buser's talk, "Developer opportunities in PlayStation Home", amounted to a sales pitch aimed at developers and publishers.

"Online games consoles have had the concept of the friends list for some time," he said, splitting online friends into two groups - those you meet online, and those you know in real life.

"We noticed at Sony a problem with the friends list with the first group - you don't really know them. We wanted a place, a neutral environment, where players could go and really get to know each other outside of the context of a particular game," said Buser.

"If you look at some of our competition, they really struggle with the idea of community, how to foster a community on their platform. Home is the true community for PlayStation 3," Buser said.

To back it up, he revealed some figures: Home has crossed the 5 million user mark worldwide (it was 4 million last we heard), of which North America accounts for 2.2 million. Average session duration is around 40 minutes. He declined to publicly state unique users per month or week, or concurrent users, however.

He strongly encouraged developers to consider supporting Home game-launching, which he said he expected to take off as quickly, and become as essential to gamers, as Trophy support. "Going forward, it's going to seem like something's missing if you don't have it. I can't stress how important game-launching is." Support for this feature is, currently, very limited.

He also talked about the brisk trade in virtual items in Home, and asked marketeers to consider them as a way to advertise and make money while they do it.

Free items were possible, Buser said, but "we always encourage people to do paid items. Why not make the money?" Buser asked.

"What else can you buy for 49 cents? You can't even get a cup of coffee. It's great value for the gamers."

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