Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sony's Getting Real Profits, Virtually

Sony tells us that their virtual world Playstation Home has hit 17 million registered users, and is profitable with 7,000 high-margin virtual goods and 236 games you can play. They are hoping to expand the user base (there are 50 million registered Playstation Network users, and only a third have signed up for Playstation Home) and thus the profitability. The coolness factor is another reason, plus it's something different than what you find on the Xbox 360 or the Wii.

Interestingly, most of the games on Playstation Home are free-to-play, with Sony making their money from the virtual goods. They are planning to try and bring in more indie developers, too. It's a way for Sony to take part in the new business models without messing up their standard business of retail packaged goods. One wonders if this area could grow to swallow up more of the business... it will be interesting to watch. If you're a developer, it's another place to get your game out there (if you've got some virtual goods in your design).

Meanwhile, Sony's got another reason to get a PS3 coming out. Their new Music Unlimited service debuted in the UK today, and is rolling out in the US and other countries next year. For a subscription price you get streaming access to a library of 6 million songs through your PS3 (or a PC or your Bravia TV). Sony's trying to move away from the iTunes model of buying songs, especially since iTunes has such a lead in that area. An interesting idea, but it remains to be seen if users go for it. A lot depends on the subscription price, which hasn't been mentioned yet.

Apple's poised to offer some sort of streaming music service, too, according to the rumor mill. Which could crush Sony's fledgling effort if it launches around the same time, or even if it launches well after it. Still, it's nice to see Sony trying harder, and their PS3 sales are certainly looking up. If the Wii doesn't reduce its price soon, I wouldn't be surprised to see the PS3 pass it up on a regular basis.

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