Sony continues its efforts to revitalize PlayStation Home. With its redesign imminent Sony is trying to drum up more interest in Home's indie content. That might be a good thing, since until just now I didn't know such things existed on Home, I haven't been there in a very long time. Jack Buser, director of the PS3's social network, believes it's actually "the easiest point of entry" for indie developers looking to make content on PlayStation.
You can have teams of literally one person. Usually team sizes vary between 5-10 people. You can create a full-on game the scope of Sodium in six months. That's just not possible in traditional console development.
While simplicity and the relatively low development cost might make indie development on Home seem tempting, none of that really matters if the game gets no exposure. Buser cites the 23 million downloads of Home as an indication that the market is big enough. These games also get promoted on the "What's New" icon on XMB.
That's all well and good, but Buser's figures don't equate to an actual market. If he said 23 million active users then it would be a different matter entirely. I downloaded Home the day I got my PS3, I've used it twice. I'm one of those 23 million, but I wasn't a potential consumer.
I would personally prefer one place to get my games. I think it would be easier for developers to get noticed if they were being promoted more in the most popular marketplace, in this instance PSN. But Home does have a different business model which might endear itself with a particular type of developer. Freemium. It's a word I dread.
It's a model that's popular on Facebook and with an increasing number of MMOs. It apparantly allows for more regular updates based on player feedback and "You can see traffic and revnue increase over time." I'd say that's dependent on the game, not something that happens as a rule. Buser hopes to get more indie titles on Home thanks to its business model and the chance of an investment from Sony.
We do investments ourselves, strategically. If we see a developer with a game idea that we really want, we can invest in those games. We'll actually buy some games outright.
With Home's redesign getting close to launch, it would be great to hear about innovations the Social Network team are making. Especially in the context of how they are going to draw attention to the platform's indie ventures and opportunities. Perhaps Sony are keeping things close to their chest, but just saying it's cheap and easy doesn't inspire much confidence.