PSLS Presents – Sophia Coney, Barney Williams, Jamie Riding, Outso

October 22, 2010 Written by Sebastian Moss

At this year’s Develop Conference in Brighton PlayStation LifeStyle chatted to Outso, the British based independent developer responsible for the majority of the best spaces and areas on Sony’s growing social hub PlayStation Home, including the hugely successful Sodium One. Talking to Sophia Coney, Barney Williams and Jamie Riding, PSLS covered everything from Sodium One to 3D and Move support for Home.

Hi, could you start by introducing yourselves and telling us a bit about your work at Outso?

SC: I’m Sophia Coney, I’m the Art Manager for Outso.

BW: I am Barney Williams and I’m the Producer at Outso.

During the conference, it was said that there was a 25% conversion rate from free Sodium users to paying ones – was that what you were expecting?

SC: I think, it was more than we were expecting, we kind of went into it blind , it was the first time anybody had done that on Home. So no, we weren’t quite expecting those numbers.

SC: We developed our own metrics gathering system, Playmetrix, to gather the numbers. We didn’t really expect to see these numbers appearing in the daily and monthly charts, so it was a nice surprise.

We also tracked a number of other statistics with our system; user numbers, levels completed in the game, right down to the amount of Scorpions Stomped, which has grown to a massive number! The benefit of this analysis was being able to gain feedback from player behavior which directly helped us improve conversion rates, as a result Playmetrix is something we are now using in all of our projects and currently expanding out across the industry.

BW: It was certainly something we were conscious of while we were working on it …

SC: …it’s always been something we’ve been trying to maintain since the initial figures. What, I think, is more telling is trying to retain those figures over a longer period of time. We’ve had good retention over the last 6 months.

You said you were first to quite a lot of these initiatives, but you are quite a small company, so why do you think you can afford to take these risks?

SC: I think it is because we are small and we are agile. I mean, if all of a sudden we need to expand, we can, we are not tied to any of the larger developers in any way.

BW: I think it’s the imagination, you know? You’ve got to have the idea to do it. I think, there is a good team at Outso and they’ve got plentiful ideas and the skills to back it up.

Can you talk about how long and how much it costs to make Sodium 1?

SC: Well, it took 6 months to make, can’t really talk about how much it cost. It took 6 months with a team between 6 and 9.

How long do you plan supporting Sodium 1?

SC: As long as it continues to be successful.

BW: …and we are doing everything to make sure it stays that way.

So, are all the projects you are doing related to Home?

SC: Pretty much.

BW: Yeah.

Can you say how many projects there are?

SC: How many? I don’t know, not really.

BW: Yeah, we always have multiple projects going.

SC: Yeah, we never have one or two things going at once, it’s always more.

BW: We always have a few things going on at various stages

Another thing mentioned in the Home conference was user generated content, is that something you would consider trying to take on?

SC: Yes, it is. It’s stuff that we’ve thought about and that we’d like to do in the future, but it’s whether we’re actually able to do it or not, because certain things are vetted by Sony. You have to be quite careful about what you can do.

BW: It’s the same with any platform, isn’t it? They have issues with user generated content and stuff but I think, everyone feels it’s a win:win situation, really. Users get involved and there’s more content.

So, are any your products involved with user generated content?

SC: I don’t think we should say….

BW: It’s something we are always considering, it’s something we are always conscious of, it’s something that’s always a factor. It’s a part of a lot of games, so it’s obviously a huge thing, so it’s something we have to keep in mind.

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