When Home was first announced it was presented as a social network for gamers. It was compared to Facebook and MySpace but with a 3D virtual world interface. However, as has been pointed out in the past, Home lacks some features that would help make it a true social network worthy of the Facebook comparison.
That isn't to say it's not a social network. It is. You can log onto Home and meet/chat with millions of PS3 users (just not at the same time). It's also a great way to find new people to add to your friend's list. The majority of my friend's list is people I've met on Home. So while it is a useful social network for PS3 gamers it's not much different than the social aspect of any MMO you could play. If you've ever played games like EverQuest, WoW or City of Heroes you would feel right at place in Home since you would be doing a lot of the same things minus the fighting/exp grind.
So while it's nice, Home as a social network isn't really that exciting or groundbreaking unless you've just never used an online virtual world before. However what is exciting and groundbreaking is Home as a games platform. This is really SCE's strong suit. They have years of experience in creating game platforms (PS1.PS2,PS3,PSP). Now they have created a games platform within a games platform. If you watched any of the video footage from GDC 2010 or you read Jack's latest blog post you can see that they are positioning Home as a full fledged Social Games Platform.
What does that mean?
Well I think it means that while Home will always be a social network the focus is now on building Home as a game platform. Creating original games exclusively for Home that take advantage of Home's social community. Not just mini games like pool, chess and saucer pop but full fledged games like Sodium and the upcoming Sodium 2. The GDC 2010 revealed that a lot of work on the 1.4 core client update wasn't just to improve functionality for us the users but to also add new tools and functionality for game developers.
Now all this focus on bringing new game experiences into Home isn't just to give us users more ways to kill time in Home. It's a business model for Home that Sony is already well versed in. Sony creates the game platform and then attracts game developers to make games for it while taking a cut of the profits. Of course this means that the games won't be free and that the dreaded "pay to play" is in fact here to stay. Game developers have to get paid like everyone else. So you may as well get used to the idea of games costing money in Home just like they do on the PSN or in game stores.
Now what is really exciting about all this to me is the potential this has for the future. Home on the PS3 is limited by the technology of the current platform. So while they can continue to push it there is only so much they can do with games in Home right now. In the future when the PS4 is released they could take this idea of Home as a game platform to a whole new level. Games that are now PSN games could be fully integrated into Home with their space being not just an Ad for the game but the game itself. Game spaces in Home now are mainly just Ad spaces for a disc or PSN game. On the PS4 they could really be GAME spaces. A space where you go to play the actual game instead of just some mini game where you win a T-shirt.
This is a better idea than game launching disc based games from Home which game developers never fully supported and which has long load times making starting the game from the XMB a better alternative. Home will have it's own library of games which are fully integrated and use our avatars and take advantage of the social community in ways disc based games cannot.
While Home as a social network may be "meh". I think Home as a social Game Platform has a bright and exciting future and may finally be what attracts all those PS3 gamers who don't currently see the point in using Home.
well said. i was looking forward to home when i first bought my PS3 at launch, then after having it STOLEN ( yeah thats right...long story..too long and off topic for here) i had to wait til i bought a new one to get the true feel of the experience, and i've been amazed bye it. in the short time ive been using home ive made some great friends, played killer games, and rabbidly await any new spaces and content. i'm just sorry that i missed XI, i heard great things about that. i'm looking forward to the future of home on the PS4, but i'm still loving it now..