Home on the PS4?: Just Another (Developer’s) Opinion

By John C. Ardussi, President, Game Mechanics LLC

People think that as a developer we are kept up to date on what is going on more so than the public. You’d have to be, right?

Actually it is not true. The first information I read about the periodic updates is almost always from the forums. I once mentioned this to the Home Platform Group (HPG) and the next update we got one week’s notice. After that, it has been back to finding out about them from the forums. There have been a few things that we knew about ahead of time: locomotions and companions. But those were unusual.

So to answer your question about whether all developers know about the future of Home, the answer is that as a group we have no clue more than the general public. Some other developers might have a better clue, but developers in general don’t.

clueAll that said, there are many clues that are all pointing in one direction that while not conclusive, are circumstantial. The point being that the decision, even if “made,” I am sure can easily be changed by someone at a certain level, in a room we have never been in, along with people we have never met. So while it looks fairly certain that a few things are going to happen, this is still just a prediction, not fact.

The clues all point towards one thing: Home is not going away anytime soon. While the staffs have been reduced and some people have left, new people have been brought in. GlassWalls’ position, for instance, is being filled. They are not just leaving it empty. And I have heard that they have hired someone new to handle the business end for developers – a new person, not a transfer out of QA or something. You don’t normally hire people if the position is short-lived. While I have been at two companies that hired me and closed their doors within six months, they closed due to no money to pay people. Sony is not in that situation.

KevinButler_1Sony is also creating new business relationships that seem unlikely to end within a year. Pottermore, Dr. Who, M.I.B., Clearasil, Wrangler, all seem like the kind of business relationships where they would look bad if they ended them quickly. Imagine selling a big account like Harry Potter and then having to explain to them why what was a good opportunity six months ago is untenable now. It ruins your credibility. And while I do not know what Sony’s financials look like for Home, I am sure they are not losing enough to pay to fix their credibility later.

I will tell you that for the first time that I can remember, the HPG has sent all developers a road map of what they expect to be doing for the next year. It is not really as important what is in it as the fact that it exists. Someone in the HPG sat down and spent the time figuring out what they would be doing for the next year. While they may not know any more than the rest of us, if they do, this is a good sign. So again, it is not definitive, but it is a clue.

From all this, it looks pretty solid to predict that Home will live past the launch of the PS4. As a gambling man who spent time in Vegas, I would put all my money on that. I have no concern that Home is going anywhere anytime soon.

Will Home Be On The PS4?

While there are so many reasons why it should, there are a few pretty obvious reasons why it shouldn’t. The PS4 will have more memory and better graphics. If Home is put on the PS4, either it will take advantage of these or it won’t.

sd-ps4

Some things are better off not happening.

Let’s say Home does take advantage of the new hardware. Now apartments can have more furniture slots. While that seems like a good thing, it would make them incompatible with the PS3 users, which means that will not happen. And I can tell you as a developer, supporting 720p and Standard Definition (SD) TV screen resolutions is a pain. We already have to make sure that everything still works on older SD televisions. Adding 1080p would just add one more resolution that developers would have to make sure looked good. All our current graphics are designed to look best at 720p.  Most likely if Home can run at 1080p, all new materials would be made to look good at that resolution and 720p would suffer the way SDTV does now. It just seems that it would cause a lot of problems.

Let’s say Home doesn’t take advantage of the new hardware. If Home did not update its graphics, it would look old compared to 1080p. So Home running on the PS4 would look like the PS3 most likely, which would not show off the coolness of the new hardware. And if all the current limits in Home had to be maintained for compatibility sake, then Home would basically just be running in a compatibility mode. And that may happen. Actually that is the only way I see it happening.

Which is why I doubt it will happen. Unless they create a PS3 emulator that runs all PS3 titles on the PS4, it seems unlikely they will create an emulator just for Home. While they have announced that PS3 titles will run on the PS4, the PS3 hardware is strange and hard to emulate. The PS4 hardware is not an evolution of the PS3 hardware, it is a complete re-think. From what people say, it is a much more familiar environment to develop on. That means an emulator would be harder to write. Then you would have to test everything you wanted to run on it because programmers do evil things that were not how the system was intended to be used. That is a big task. More likely they will have a linkable library that each developer can apply and patch their game for the PS4 once it works. That is my guess, but I could be wrong.

ps2

Two for the price of one? Not quite.

When the PS2 games were supported on the PS3, they just shipped a PS2 in the box. No real emulation. They cannot do that for the PS3 for the same reason they stopped doing it for the PS2 – price. Basically you are selling two consoles in one box. It is pricey, but it works. It would be way too pricey for PS3 hardware.

Will Home run in emulation on the PS4? I doubt it, but I would not put money on it. You never know when some engineer or a group of engineers suddenly go on a mission from God and do something everyone else thinks is impossible. If they did it, I would be highly impressed. There are a lot of highly impressive people out there, so you never know.

PS2 sales took off after the PS3 was released.

PS2 sales took off after the PS3 was released.

What Does This Mean For Home’s Future?

The PS2 was released in March 2000. Production ended December 2012. The PS3 was released November 2006. Guessing based on that, the PS3 will stop being made in the 2018/2019 timeframe. And Home does not have to shut down just because they stop making PS3s.

Which leads to the question: “Is there any reason why Home would shut down before they stop making PS3s?” Answer: Money. As long as Home continues to bring in enough money to pay everyone, I see Home staying open. But if Home becomes a cost with no benefit, then I could see Home closing early.

So if someone says they stopped buying items a long time ago because someday Home will be shut down, ask them if they recommend people stop eating because someday they are going to die. Stopping buying things and encouraging others to do so will cause what they fear to happen. The reality is that most people who have said they stopped buying things probably did not buy much in the first place. I sincerely doubt that people stopped buying things either 1) spend much time in Home now or 2) ever bought that much anyway. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Why Is Sony Silent?

Run away!!

Run away!!

One of the painful things I learned a while ago is no one wants to be the savior of yesterday’s great idea. In 2001 I made a game and while I was finishing it, the company changed management. They never shipped the game even though it was done. Why? Because it was the baby of the prior management. If it was successful, the prior management would get the credit. If it failed, the new management would get the blame for releasing it. Everyone wants to be on the new team so they can be part of the new credits.

If someone came in and saved Home now, they would get a lot of glory. But saving Home is hard compared to riding the PS4 ship of giant marketing dollars. There is likely a lot of glory that can be spread around on the PS4 project. The only way there is glory in Home is if you make it a golden goose for Sony.

And no one may have the authority that is required to do it. I remember thinking that if I could convince the top people in Home that I had a great idea for Home that it would happen. They all agreed I had a great idea, but they could not make it happen. Sony may not want to commit the resources required to take Home to a new level. So it may not even be possible.

crystalballWhat Now?

Home does not need to go to the PS4 to continue. Home will likely live out its life on the PS3. FOR FIVE, SIX OR MORE YEARS.

Enjoy it! Have fun. And do not let others convince you to stop buying things on Home. The people who buy things on Home are the heroes of Home. Their efforts help it to continue to exist.

The people who try and get others to stop buying items are tearing it down just so they can say “Told you so.” They have been saying that Home was going to close since I have been on it. That is three and a half years. I have a saying: “If you get up every day saying to yourself that today you are going to die, one day you will be right.” There is no glory in just being right.

 

June 18th, 2013 by | 13 comments
John C. Ardussi (deuce_for2) is a developer for PS Home and other platforms. He recently started a new company, Game Mechanics who is now making items and games. Be sure and tell him what you think of what he is doing. He truly listens and adjusts based on input from the community.

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13 Responses to “Home on the PS4?: Just Another (Developer’s) Opinion”

  1. That’s well written, well thought out, and well explained from your point of view. Whether right or wrong, only time will tell except for the “predictors”.

    Some info in there I had not thought of or not known.

    SONY has financial problems which may or may not have something to do with the future of HOME and where it will be (the 3 or 4 or both). I think both because if they can bring back old games then why not HOME on the 4?
    Besides,

    HOME needs to stay open if for no other reason then Kevin Butler has no where else to go.
    Christina Lee at least has a chance elsewhere.
    Not poor Kevin. :(

    My typing is getting better but I’m still not ready for programming.
    I’m an idea person and a thinker, not a numbers guy which is why I don’t belong in Vegas.

  2. KrazyFace says:

    Logical. I agree with what you’ve said here, but, I wanna just pick at one small thing…

    You touched on the idea of some engineers going on a “mission from god” to do something hard for the sake of achieving the goal and being able to say “we did it”. I think this might be a window to what Gaikai is. Not many are talking about Gaikai as there’s so little concrete information on it, but we know it’s to be a streaming service for the back catalogue of PS games, and if this is true, then I see no reason to why the Home app couldn’t be streamed in the same way to a PS4. It’s always online, so that fits nicely into what could be part of the Gaikai service. And hey, if you require Plus to access Gaikai, and so in turn Home, then that’ll reduce the troll accs by a fair bit in Home!

    After all that being said though, and as you stated in your article, Sony’s track record of keeping things alive long after the latest and greatest points to Home being accessible via PS3 for years to come regardless. I for one won’t be changing my spending habits for a while at least.

  3. Burbie52 says:

    Very well stated John. I for one will be buying things I like until they stop making them. So many people equate Home with buying stuff, which is good for you developers when it works, I buy things to enhance my experiences there with my friends. I love to decorate, create clothing combos and play games with them in Home if the game is my cup of tea. (By the way I am enjoying your horse racing game).
    Like I said in my last article, people need to start equating Home as an experience, like a movie or a show you go to see. Do you take that movie home with you when you leave the theater? Only in your memory, much like Home. The difference is that with Hume you meet and become good friends with people from all over the planet. Do you become friends with the actors in a movie? No of course not, but it doesn’t phase most people to spend twenty bucks to go see one.
    Keep buying people unless you want to send Home to an earlier grave! Great article John.

  4. ted2112 says:

    Great article John,

    Your passion for Home is a wonderful thing!

    I get the feeling that Sony just doesn’t know what to do with Home, and as strange as that sounds I like it! I like being part of a small yet powerful community.

    Almost every other gaming title in the world has a per-destined path, where consumers are faceless money sources with no say. Here on Home that’s not the case. For whatever the reason the Home community keeps this thing going, and Home has grown to the point where I feel Sony would rather see where it’s going, rather than the effort of hitting the brakes.

    I feel as long as we participate in this thing called Home, there will be a Home, and this is something outside the box for most people to understand. Traditional gamers who, buy a game, beat the game,get the trophies and move on have never understood it.

    Home is not a traditional game, it never will be, there is no “beating the game” in Home, and that’s what makes it so special. Unfortunately being a peculiar thing means we have to put up with a lot of questions and some doubt about its future.

    But, as long as we are a community we get the very special privilege,that most never get of having a say directly or indirectly. We are unique and that’s why I love Home!

    Thanks for a great article John!

  5. yahslover says:

    Very good article.
    I should start off by letting you know I am one of those traditional gamers that just love to play.When i first stepped into home years ago,I found myself in a plaza with nothing to do but get a free ford shirt.I quickly lost interest.
    When they add the home arcade to the vita and it raised my intrest in trying it again.When I came back on home I felt like a little kid in sonyland and could’nt decide which amazing ride to try first.
    This may not be a traditional game,but I have still tried to fill my yacht with every game I can get on this boat without sinking it.I think that what you all have done with home is amazing.If home makes it to ps4 great,if not awww.Either way it’s not going stop me from buying and enjoying these great products.

  6. Nora Rich says:

    lets hope you are right and we can get a few more years of home on PS3, if it doesn’t make it to 4. I hope developers will still come and help keep it going, we depend on you guys( though there is a lot of stuff I haven’t bought yet there,lol).

  7. Jersquall says:

    John just went and saved Home! :D

    There is still a lot of work to be done and it all starts with better communication. Not just between Sony and the community but all of us. Sony, Community, Developers. There has to be established trust. There has to be consideration. There has to be procedures that cut time on getting products out. Streamline. attitude’s and non working relationships need to enter this Home. This goes for all of Home top to consumers.

    Support. If everyone steps up then everyone wins.

  8. Jersquall says:

    .:Edit:. Attitude’s and non working relationships need not enter this Home. This goes for all of Home from the top to consumers.

  9. Mr_Edw says:

    Have to say this was very well written.

    It’s very much in line with my predictions of Home’s future that it will get the support on its current platform as long as the consumers support it back.

    I eventually will not be using this forever but for those that want to keep the dream alive, your advice is the soundest -- spend, enjoy :) rinse, repeat.

  10. Burmecian Rat says:

    Great article.

    I think something uniquely in Home’s favour compared to other online games is all the 3rd party developers it has.

    It’s not just a case of Sony killing an in-house Sony MMORPG and ignoring the irate consumers on their forums. They will also hopefully face some pressure from the 3rd party devs, small though they may be, to keep the platform alive because it’s an important source of revenue for them.

    So as many here have already said, it’s up to everyone, from consumers up through 3rd party devs, to keep supporting Home so Sony has a reason to support it too.

  11. Queen_Eli says:

    Excellent article John! Very insightful clues and excellent thought processes. Thank you for sharing with us. Long Live HOME & Homelings :O

  12. tbaby says:

    Very insightful article John! Your logic makes a lot of sense and so maybe Home won’t be on PS4, but you never know with emulators and some developers on a mission like you said. But even if that doesn’t happen, I’d be ok with running it on PS3. Many people have multiple consoles today, even multiple PS3’s, so I don’t think it would be unreasonable to have a PS3 to use for Home and even play older games too for nostalgia’s sake and a PS4 for playing the latest games. So the bottom line is the future of PS Home is not necessarily dependent on it’s support on the PS4. I too believe PS Home will be around for a few more years, even if it is not on the PS4.

  13. FF says:

    That was a very well written and thoughtful article! It was easy to understand and very logical. And I think you are right.

    There are a few things though that aren’t touch here that may be important.

    First there’s the cloud gaming that Sony promised to put on PS4. This is something that easily applies to Home. On cloud gaming a PS3 at Sony’s website will run Home and the PS4 just connects to it and relays the sound and picture and controller input via the internet. This allows Sony to run Home without the cost of create a new client program for the ps4. What Home can do on a PS3 will work because it IS a PS3 running Home. Sony seems dedicated to creating cloud gaming not for Home, but so that the huge library of PS3 games can be used on a PS4 which will help sell PS4s. It’s a valuable selling point. And Home can ride that wave.

    I think one thing that will be critical to Home will be developer interest in creating content. Without new content, Home becomes boring for alot of people. Don’t get me wrong. Some hardcore users will always stay with Home. But for many others, their interest in Home wanes with less content or less interesting content. We already see this happen on sunday and monday nights. As more and more people leave, there’s fewer friends on your list in Home. And with less friends, more people drop.

    I think the best future for Home is to go multiplatform. It’s a great idea, HOme is a great idea. And I think it would thrive outside just the playstation. And it makes sense for content to reach as many as possible. Once a developer creates a chair, or shirt or dress, it can be copied infinitely and across multiple platforms will pure profit. But like John mentions above, there seems little desire on Sony to do this.

    John mentions its always possible a programmer will go nuts and save Home. But I think a more likely possibility is if Home lives long enough, someone will create something like Home on another system, be it internet, pc or cellphones. And if someone does make a pile of money on a virtual world game. Then Sony might start thinking….”HEY! we have something like that! What can we do to jump on the band wagon?” Just like how despite how great an idea Star Trek revivals were back in the 70’s, it wasn’t until STAR WARS hit the scene that made it possible for Trek to come back.

    anyways, that’s just my long stream of thought…

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