Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sony Pulls the Plug on Playstation Home Japan!

Editors note: I decided to post this here after moderation decided to silence over 100 pages of thoughts and opinions due to either their cowardice or incompetence. We should all be free to cognize as we so choose, particularly in a public forum. Free speech is important, Sony.

Japan Home just had the rug pulled out from underneath them. We in NA can’t be blamed for having similar concerns about our own future.

Are the financial statements in our favor, or are we on life support? Is there a man with his finger on the red button, waiting for profitability to dip? Could the difference between shutting down and staying open be a bad week in sales?

I don’t know, and I won’t claim to, but one thing I can say for certain is it’s not good news.

Sony’s cynicism towards its own service has effectively killed an entire region of Home. We owe so much of the novelty of our experience here in NA to innovations and cultural crossovers from Japan; the haste with which this news was delivered is both shocking and telling.

Are we supposed to shrug off SCEAJ "restructuring their business to focus on other priorities," as if it won't happen here, eventually? How much notice will we get? A day? A week? Japan bought in to the bitter end, and their reward from Sony was a cruel and sudden death.

How long do you think this was in the works? SCEA has been aware of this much longer than we have, that’s for certain. Their farewell message was coldly calculated and engineered to deliver the highest possible final profits at the expense of dedicated, oblivious Home users.

How many embittered refugees from Japan users will start anew in NA? Will they make suckers of us all? When will it be our turn to find out we've been bled dry and cast upon the waters? How many more spaces or pieces of clothing will get released until Sony says “thanks for playing,” and slams the door in our collective faces?

Home's survival (I hesitate to use the word success) is tied directly to its profitability. If revenue dips enough, the Home team pulls the plug in the most profitable way they can. It’s pretty simple -- heartbreakingly indifferent towards something which once had loftier ambitions, but simple.

It feels almost as if there's an over-eagerness within Sony to screw us over as dedicated Home users. We’ve survived, so far, despite a complete lack of advertising and marketing on Sony’s behalf, and despite their complete indifference towards Home’s success.

The good news is we have strong third-party developers in our corner who seem willing to put up a strong fight with us. I would like to take this moment to thank them for their presence and also for their vision, which for the past couple years have been the building blocks of our collective Home experience. You tread water with your hands tied behind your back, and I appreciate it. At the same time it’s disappointing to admit: Home hasn’t been Sony’s platform for a long time.

All Sony seems to be doing is cashing checks based on the works of third-party users and advertisers, and doing the bare minimum in terms of maintenance to continue cashing those checks. We’ve seen it with their lack of even a single mention at E3. We’ve seen it in the type of responses we get when we ask questions about Home’s tentative future, and we see it when an entire region shuts its doors overnight.

Abandoning ship would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and for many of us is not an option.

What do we need to do to keep Home alive? Is it too late? Are we already being edged out?

With the coming PS4, and no plans to integrate Home, it’s very possible. Many of us knew this was a strong possibility, but this news makes it real -- it could happen at any time, maybe sooner than we all thought it would.

All of us have shared so many precious memories over the years. We’ve seen people, events, and spaces come and go – too many to count. We’ve grown into a dysfunctional family (the best kind!) with our own ideas about what’s best for something we all love and enjoy, which is why it really breaks my heart to see this news.

My greatest hope is that I’m dead wrong, and we all have at least a few more years to enjoy together, but that seems incongruent given the present facts. It’s frustrating to see Home constantly marginalized by the people with power in their hands to make it a better place.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mo' Updates, Mo' Problems

I've been in contact with a lot of my friends and all I can say is "Jeez, what a complete nightmare!" I'm sure many of you have some other choice words as well. To keep it simple, Home has become unstable and completely unusable for many dedicated users. It seems every possible thing which could have gone wrong with this update has gone completely wrong. All we received were reassurances, yet all of our fears and apprehensions about 1.75 have been realized.

Would you like a list or an essay? Well...

-People are flat out missing items. Not only that, but many wouldn't know it if they were since it's now taking an hour to go through one section of inventory. 

-My friends have lost some of their avatar saves. People are reporting missing clothing, missing furniture and missing lmos.  Even several days after the update, stuff that was there on Wednedsay is gone today. 

-One of my favorite activities, decorating apartments has been made absolutely impossible. When you go to place a furniture item it takes AT LEAST 30 seconds from when you click before it actually shows up at the spawn. 

-Wardrobe and furniture has been scattered completely. In some cases furniture can't be placed at all -- choices just flicker quickly and users are sent right back to inventory.  The same thing happens when organizing what has already been placed. 

As for the store -- and this is where your ears should perk up Mr. Digital Platforms Manager -- it's taking an inordinate amount of time (about a minute per line) for selections to load.  Even when buying one free item, the new "validating purchase" screen that takes AT LEAST eight minutes each and every time, making users not want to buy anything at all.

Your program is completely unstable -- many things are broken and/or missing. Only an idiot would buy something now, and I for one will be offering no financial support until every last issue that was created with this forced update is resolved. Go ahead and laugh -- I'm only one user, right? 

Unless things change quickly, I predict you will see your sales decrease slowly, or perhaps rather quickly, percentage point by percentage point due to poor implementation and the stubborn insistance to move forward while ignoring, or at least not implementing failsafe solutions for customer concerns along the way. Many of us have been left in the lurch once again, confused, distrusting, and disheartened by what we see and experience.

If you aren't experiencing some of these bigger problems, you should thank your lucky stars and realize that for your non-issue, there are thousands of people, many of whom dont use the forum, who have no other recourse but to stop using home or roll with the punches. 

We've rolled with a lot of punches through the thick and thin of Home, but this last update may have finally beaten some of us down completely. The only way I can describe some of the issues people have been having lately is "pure devastation." 

This forum is a microcosm of Home as a whole, and when an issue is swept under the rug or ignored, thousands of users end up suffering the consequences.

I am officially terrified to see what's next, and pray that somehow, some way, everything will be fixed soon, if that's even possible without reverting to the previous client. 

I'm no fear monger, however you've left little to no recourse for a great deal of your customers. I am voting very dissatisfied, and I will be making that vote with my pocketbook.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oh, Grr! Extermination

Ogre Extermination. I can’t think of a better way to say “I love you” with that special someone this February =)

There’s plenty to do this week, and we owe a lot of that to our friends from Granzella, who made a few updates to their core spaces – updates that will have a significant portion of us “grinding away” all month.

Let me start by saying if you have any semblance of a social life you’re probably biting off more than you can chew with this game, especially if you're just starting. The only way to get on the leaderboard and stay on is to become a Home addict. That means 8+ hours a day MINIMUM of grinding to get the top rewards. If you’d like to socialize or decorate, add another few hours to the bare minimum you’ll need just to keep up.

The game is fun, I’ll admit that – the first time I played through my heart was pounding and I barely got out of there with my sword – but it’s only fun to a point, and that point comes long before your hundredth grinding session.

I feel somewhat bad knowing the people vying for the top spots on the leaderboard all won’t make it despite their efforts, and in fact would probably like nothing more than a day off at this point. The situation they find themselves in is they’ve invested so much time keeping themselves in the top bracket, and that time and effort will have been for nothing unless they spend much, much more time keeping their score competitive. People are, in fact, playing this very minute, beefing up their scores and indirectly attacking yours while you read this. I guess we’ll all finally get a chance to relax come the 27th.

What do the leaderboard rewards say about the owner? Rare items, especially those earned, tend to be worn as a badge of honor in Home. Even though they are one of the few ways we can show acumen and sophistication in the metaverse, we have to ask ourselves: what kind of culture is being cultivated in Home? Maybe I’m just projecting, but playing for hours a day sounds unreasonable, even brutal. What human being wears DAYS STRAIGHT of mindless repetition (which it INEVITABLY becomes) as a badge of honor?

Yet most of us are doing it, playing the same game over and over as quickly as possible, telling ourselves we’ll limit ourselves to whatever we feel our time is worth. Whether the rewards are sub-standard is irrelevant. Why would Granzella, or any company for that matter, make a game with goals that are impossible to accomplish without spending at least a month’s worth of full work days playing?  

It sounds a bit crazy when you look at it that way, and it leaves me asking once again: At what cost to our personal lives? You could ask this question about Home in general, and your answer could be anything from “I don’t have a personal life” to “regardless of what gimmicks different developers throw my way, they will never dictate how I choose to spend my time,” and everything in between. We should all certainly be grateful for a change of pace, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t support Granzella – they’re one of the best developers in Home – but I’m feeling a bit turned off. This grind-fest, with conveniently spaced (for Granzella) weapon releases meant to pick your pocket a second and probably third time around is the only way to stand a fighting chance on the leaderboard. 

Keep in mind if you want Valentine’s Day rewards from Southern Island Hideaway, you need to own Granzella clothing to participate. I’m not complaining because I decided not to make a purchase; if I cared enough about the rewards, then I would buy something. The point is the folks at Granzella figured it would look good enough to some to justify purchasing an item they might only sort of like, and others would simply buy something just to have access to an exclusive, limited time item.

Their marketing approach becomes very transparent if you look at it this way. These things clearly do not add any sort of entertainment value to the experience and are in fact a clear manipulation to bolster traffic and sales. I’m glad the space hasn’t been stagnant and they’re updating regularly, but they’re on a path of milking our Home experience dry to the point of painfulness. Thoughts? 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Things Are Looking Up in Home!

Today feels like the old days of Home. It’s nothing fancy, in fact it's rather simple. We have a new space from Diesel to run around in for some free, easy-to-get swaggarino (copyright lol), in contrast to the extended gouging process which usually comes along with a new space. We also have an actual quest! On the activity board! No seriously go look I’m not kidding =)

Although everything I’ve mentioned above is an essential cog in the Home machine, the point, the REAL point, is that what was intended as a simple quest has people buzzing about the various core spaces in abundance. People are hanging around longer than they may have initially intended in getting a simple reward, because they're making friends; all we needed was a reason to go. It’s a welcome change to see community in the Hub, Sportswalk, Adventure District, and the other core locations, rather than just movement.

You have no idea how much I miss times like this in Home… or maybe you do.


People will be doing this quest at different times throughout the week, meaning these spaces will be more populated, not simply with more people, but also people with an apparent sense of camaraderie between them. The results speak for themselves: the inclusion of non-third-party content appearing via the Activity Board is a positive contribution that makes Home better and more enjoyable. People are working together towards a common, simple goal; we are meeting, connecting, and having a great time doing it! We're also happily spending money. Are you listening, management?

I will acknowledge this was a particularly good update in terms of content as well, but I feel it's important to note aside from new activities, we’ve seen management take a more hands-on approach in the forums this past week, and I must say that's a huge step in the right direction.

The past few months have been tumultuous at best, and I can understand why replying to a thread full of unhappy people might feel like stepping into a bear trap, but I would like to extend an olive branch, and personally thank you for the most recent wave of changes. I hope we can build upon this level of contact. I’m also very much looking forward to more content from the Home Team IN Home. I truly hope we can take this momentum, and keep things more positive moving forward.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Home is Where My Heart is

Home is where my heart is.

Despite the many bumps in the road I think very fondly about the events, spaces and rewards over the years. More importantly I think of all my friends, past, present, and even future. 

You all make me happy. All of you.  And I feel  so very lucky we are all able to share this place with each other. 

We've tried time and time again to extend the olive branch and usher in some civility and stability by bridging a gap, (a chasm), with management, but it doesn't seem like management cares. It has, in fact, been made abundantly clear through recent events they have no time for this amazing community, which they claim to care for so deeply. 

You speak highly and confidently of your brilliant but hidden efforts to sustain Home, but everything we see, hear, and have been made to feel deeply in our cores is evidence to the contrary. 

If you want to sabotage Home, keep it up. By alienating deeply invested community members, you are only alienating yourself.

We haven’t been petty, not all of us -- not most of us. This has been eating away at the heart of the community for some time now, and we have been very patient, but only through the lens of constant disregard.

You fracture and wound when you act like it's a hassle offer some measure of respectable and timely discourse. You act outraged when the very people you are here to accommodate aren't happy, like butter wouldn't melt in your mouth. 

We love Home, Glasswalls. We love Home more than you, and it is very clear to me now, many of us are more invested than you will ever be.  

I’m sorry to say "your" baby has grown, and a complete disregard for all of us has brought Home into an angsty adolescence desperately in need of guidance. The most troubling thing about this is you've shown us all where your heart is. 

We never asked for lines to be drawn in the sand. There are people here who work harder than the NA Home staff FOR THE COMMUNITY, and have never asked for a dime -- just take one look at page one of the Xi Continuum thread. Our incentive was, and still is, being a community first, and we will remain as such! We all deserve a measure of respect, and your THREAT to take your ball and go home, breaking from professional courtesy under the guise of sitting down to have a chat, just may be the straw that broke the camels back. 

We are not just a paycheck for you to cash. More people are realizing that everyday, and boy are they pissed. I'm not asking for a response anymore, I'm giving it to one you didn't ask for.

If you can't figure out what we want, and what you need to do, bear in mind we will.

There will always be dissenters, but there are clearly some fundamental things on which I think we can all agree. Fighting against all adversity to your point of view without acknowledging how our different perspectives tie together will never bring you any closer to the truth right under your nose.

Every one of us is part of a community, and together we all have a voice. Home is where my heart is, but without all of us, Home is nothing.

A Message From Glasswalls AKA Cade Peterson, Playstation Network's Digital Platforms Community Manager (01-22-2013 05:35 PM)

So you all want me to be more vocal. Here you go. I hope this all makes sense and makes everyone a little more understanding. Unfortunately, I cannot be more like this all the time, but here's a moment I'm sharing with you to provide a little more insight.

The plan was to let everyone in on the major change as early as possible, following up with a global sync of releasing the Patch Notes in full (once they were finalized), which is scheduled for tomorrow. This is all according to plan, regardless of any drama-canes that might result of it. If I have to take one for the team because people want to kill the messenger, or because some community member gets out of line and doesn't like being corrected, it's par for the course in my line of work. It's unfortunate, but I do not have time to waste with pettiness when I aim to deliver a message in good faith for everyone to let them know changes they should know as early as possible.

It was actually *my* idea to share it that early—global community management agreed with me, so you're welcome from my heart to yours (honestly). I could just let things happen, but I do aim to ensure things run as ideally as possible for everyone's satisfaction, but it's mostly behind the scenes work, so you don't have to see or worry about it. I guess a dividend from that is that no one knows how much I work *for* them, so I get little credit or appreciation. I'm not asking for any, but you'll have to trust me on that. Believe it or not, I do love this community and try to serve it the best I can. So if someone feels butt-hurt, I'm sorry, but I refuse to tolerate nastiness. No one is allowed to be a jerk here. So knock it off. I've been saying that since 2008 and won't be stopping anytime soon. I also don't read entire threads of a drama-cane, so you can bet I didn't read the entire recent one either. Nope. Not going to do it. I have far more important things on my plate at all times that require my attention more than a single, ridiculous thread bashing me or us or Home in general. I have a world to run folks, because I can stop working and let things fall apart if you prefer. No more blog posts, we can retire the Home forums, and put this baby to bed...

But I prefer to do Home justice by working my tail off, each and every day. And I'm fond of smiles and hearts, so even when I may not be happy with the way you guys blow things out of proportion and/or blame me for things out of *my* control, or with the way things are at that short moment in time, I stay optimistic and continue to do my best to serve this amazing community.

See the thread here.