Sony London is not exactly one of the top-tier exclusive studios that Sony brags about, but like it or not, they will play an important role in the PlayStation’s future.
Looking back at Sony London’s past track record, it would be easy to scoff at the studio’s work. EyeToy, PlayStation Home, and Wonderbook all represent some of the lowest points in PlayStation history. However, it’s sometimes hard to say whether the backlash was towards the actual products or the execution/timing.
First up, there’s the EyeToy. Out of the three, it definitely had the most success. While a mild hit on the PS2, Kinect would demonstrate the wild success of motion-captured gaming. This is clearly a case of the technology not reaching that sweet spot in convenience and function. It might be easy to clump the EyeToy and Kinect as mere distractions, but games such as Dance Central demonstrate that there is potential for quality, and Kinect’s success shows that there is clearly a market for these experiences.
Wonderbook also represents something similar to that. While Microsoft doesn’t have a response to it (yet), the Wonderbook is an example of a decent idea bogged down by technicalities outside of actual product. Being on the PlayStation 3 made the Wonderbook a really hard sell. While the Wonderbook could’ve been a neat project on the Wii or even 360, it was destined to fail on the expensive PS3.
While the PlayStation Home tanked at launch, it had many great ideas that were just not implemented right. Many cool ideas were buried under difficult-to-navigate menus and slow interfaces.
With the PS4 squarely focused on the gamers, does this spell the end to Sony London’s experiments? Not even close. While PS Home didn’t resonate with a lot of players on the PS3, the social-focused, gaming-centric PS4 is ready for a new PS Home. Sony stressed that the PlayStation experience would expand beyond the console and into the multiple different platforms. A new version of PS Home that allows players to access their rooms on their phone or play little minigames on their tablets would fit very well with Sony’s vision. Plus, the idea of a virtual world for gamers is one that aligns with Sony’s social commitment and is also a very gaming-focused idea.
Of course, there’s also no doubt that Sony London is cooking something up for the new PlayStation Eye. It wouldn’t be a surprise if some new version of EyePet or Singstar heavily used the PlayStation Eye. Gamers may dismiss more peripherals, but the truth is that most of the backlash is on the lackluster software instead of the hardware.
As always, if Sony London can execute its ideas properly, there is great potential for success; not only for London, but also PlayStation. With the next Xbox most likely having a very similar structure to the PS4 and also having a widely-successful Kinect, Sony needs London to pull off all the stops to create a cohesive, interesting social and interactive experience to stay competitive.