When it launched in 2008, PlayStation Home was vaunted as a utopian entertainment futureplex in which we could reinvent ourselves in digital form and er, hang out at the mall.
Six years on, the luster of second lives has faded somewhat. PlayStation Home, which Sony viewed as a sort of Times Square advertising and retail space all of its own, entirely failed to live up to expectations.
The company announced today that PlayStation Home is to be killed off in Europe and North America. The end was already announced for Japan and Asia. The platform will close on March 31, 2015 due, according to a statement, "to a shifting landscape." Goody drops are promised for the die-hard faithful.
It's difficult now to comprehend that when news of the thing then code-named PlayStation Hub leaked in 2007, it was greeted with tremendous excitement. This was a time when Second Life was all the rage. The notion of a 3D avatar space where gamers from around the world could just hang out, seemed like a winner.
Millions of people created an avatar, wandered around for a bit.
Introducing the product at a GDC session, Sony's Phil Harrison called it "Games 3.0;" an event as big as the coming of games and the arrival of online gaming.
Lots of people tried Home, created an avatar, wandered around for a bit. According to a recent co-promo deal with the BBC, Home had over 30 million users; a significant proportion of total PlayStation 3 sales.
And Sony tried to give those avatars something to do. There were exclusive Home games, exclusive Home pre-order goodies, Home apartments to deck-out. Shops.
Yet for all but the most enthusiastic users, it was always something of a sterile experience. This was not helped by a vast population bias of men over women, which, if you equate Home to a party, made it a pretty terrible party.
Even so, PlayStation Home had its believers. The news of the closure was greeted with dismay over on fan-site AlphaZone 4. "I'm very disappointed," wrote one user. "No words for this."