PlayStation Home Management Rebuilds Bridges With Community

PlayStation Home, the online social community for the PlayStation 3, has certainly come along way since it hit open beta back in December of ’08. However, over the past few months, it seemed that digital content (i.e. clothes, items and furniture) have been continuously pumped out week after week, while any new, usable features were left sitting on the back burner.

This all came to a head when PlayStation Home Community Manager, CydoniaX made it clear that the PlayStation Forums, pretty much  Home’s only method for providing feedback, weren’t proving to be a very useful place for it.

…spending tons of time in the forums has proven to be a not very constructive way to spend our time. No matter what we post, we get attacked for it, and it would be a waste of both your time and ours to sit  here all day arguing about whose fault this and that is. If you guys want to see Home improve, help set the tone here. Positive and constructive suggestions and feedback are a great way to start. We don’t mind criticism either, so long as it’s constructive.

This message alone caused the vast majority of the Home forum community to go into a frenzy, with negative comments all around. However, as the months went on, many decided to take the last sentence of this message to heart and began voicing their complaints and opinions in a more constructive manner which seemed to resonate throughout  the community. This “growth”, if you will, may have been the key to prompting a blog post by SCEA Home Director, Jack Buser who commented on the state of Home.

Rest assured that we hear your requests loud and clear (I personally use Home and read the forums daily), and although we can’t deliver everything we’re asked for, we will compliment all of these new features and content with a renewed focus on open dialogue and service. Our Home Community Managers, along with myself, continue to work on addressing your questions regarding our direction for the next year

This then, after a thread arose asking “Where’s Jack?”, prompted a response, a first for the forums, from Jack Buser.

From Jack’s post:

I better get back to work, but I did want to drop a quick note in this thread and let you know that you are being heard, and that we are committed to what we said on the blog.  You are all so important to the future of this platform, and equally important to each of us personally here on the team.  Many of your PSN names I know by heart.  I listen to your podcasts, I read your blogs, I check out your websites, and I see you in Home.  For all of the passion and effort you spend reinforcing this important community: Thank you.

This was one huge step for the Home director, as up until now, he had all but been a ghost, aside from the occasional promotional video here and there, although he actually does spend quite a large amount of time around the Home community in-world under different aliases. This really did seem like a glimmer of hope for the loyal Home users who wanted some form of communication with management to voice their concerns.

As if things couldn’t get any better, users were then provided with a lengthy message from CydoniaX, clearing up any misconceptions and making way for what’s to come over the next year.

From CydoniaX’s message:

Now, the good news is that we are getting clearance to comment on other subjects that are very important to you, and we will be releasing information regarding these subjects over the coming weeks in these forums. We also want to assure you that we are devoting a significant amount of time to maintaining a presence in these forums and will continue to act as we always have as agents of the PlayStation Home community when it comes to informing development of content for this region and features for the platform as a whole.

This most definitely is great for the actual service that Home provides and the community as a whole, as it gives the management team a sense of transparency and really helps to ease that communication barrier that had previously been hindering any back-and-forth communication between the users and management. Home Community Specialist, Locust_Star has stated that the management team has had to “wear many hats” over the past year, but that things have changed and that there will now be a renewed focus on community concerns.

To be clear, we did not, and would not ever, “abandon the community” – especially not due to criticism. We’re pretty thick-skinned, and we realize that we have to take the bad with the good here, as with all jobs.

From what I’ve heard, there are many awesome things in the pipeline for Home, and this revitalization of the community can only help to put into motion a year that is sure to be awesome.

Does this really mean a fresh start for community/management interaction? Only time will tell. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as management slowly reveals their plans and release details for the coming year. See you in Home!