Microtransactions…on consoles?

Playstation Home

I stumbled upon an interesting article earlier today. Apparently microtransactions will be playing more of a role in the console space in the video game industry. According to Virtualworldsnews.com, Sony has announced a new game for their Playstation Home network.

For those of you who don’t know what Playstation Home is, it’s a virtual world where you create your own avatar and you’re put into a world that’s just like the world we live in today. You can meet others, go bowling, play arcade games, or hang out at your place, just like in real life.

Now the game they’re announcing is called Sodium. I’m not too clear on what goes on in Sodium but the company seems to plan on expanding the game through microtransactions. So for instance if you wanted to say buy a new weapon or item to use in the game, you would need to pay an additional amount (in real money) to be able to use said item.

Now one could view this kind of practice being done through expansion packs from MMO’s but to me this is more moving towards how it is right now in social media games. From what I’ve read, Sony is trying to tap into it’s already large Playstation Home population by offering them a game inside Home where players can interact with each other in a community type environment like in Social Media games.

Seeing Sony attempt this got me thinking. What if we expanded on this concept? Playstation Home has a community of 10,000,000 users, and the service is free to use. What would happen if we see some of today’s popular social media games in a community like Home. Imagine, being able to play Zoo World through your avatar on Playstation Home. You would be able to talk with your friends and others in the community, visit each other’s zoos and even walk into a virtual store where you can see the animals, or other items you might want to purchase. On the flip side, in theory, it would be rather easy to implement these said games onto Home, since all the publisher has to do is optimize the game to run on Home.

Although from the surface it seems far-fetched, but maybe it’s not that far off. Playstation 3, the console that allows access to Playstation Home, already allows for Facebook connectivity, where players can “link” their PS3 with their Facebook account, allowing for instant updates whenever a player achieves something. Now doesn’t that already sound like what happens when you do something in a social media game on Facebook?

Now this is all just speculation or maybe wishful thinking on my part and I know there are other factors and variables to consider. But if this game is successful, this could open up a whole new way of playing social media games.

Here’s a link to the article: http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/12/playstation-home-taps-sodium-microstransactions-as-users-increase.html

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One Response

  1. Ryan, the console guys are trying hard to leverage the idea of virtual goods as they’ve seen it catch on in social media games (after Second Life’s support of it, of course!), and gaining steam in mobile. Apple has opened up the iPhone SDK to support microtransactions within the app to enable additional app features or say upgrades to new versions (free to premium for example). Other mobile platform providers may move this way as well.

    I wrote about this at http://newdigitalcafe.com/?p=556

    So it’s natural competitive/complimentary forces (mobile vs. PC vs. console) that will drive console brands to allow developers to enable microtransactions within the console app to purchase virtual goods. And the social networking game success that you pointed to, being pulled into the console is one idea being bandied about.

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