Second Life launched for the PC in 2003, but for many years afterward, video game consoles lacked a similar piece of software. There was no virtual world to roam on your home system that invited you to simply live a, well, second life. Online games came with objectives: complete this mission, slay this beast, shoot that enemy, and so on. A place to hang out and make a polygonal home just didn’t exist in the console market.
That all changed with PlayStation Home, which was announced in 2007 and launched on the PlayStation 3 in 2008. PlayStation Home promised to bring a Second Life-esque experience to consoles, complete with customizable avatars, virtual abodes, and ways to interact with all the other inhabitants of Sony’s online universe.
It didn’t work out. That’s not to say PlayStation Home was an immediate failure — it didn’t close up shop until March 31, 2015 — but it never took off in the way Sony had hoped. What was meant to be a virtual world brimming with possibility simply became a microtransaction-fest, forcing users to pay up to get the customizations they wanted. And despite offering embedded games in PlayStation Home, it turned out gamers weren’t looking to walk through a make-believe town square to play them, not when Xbox Live could get you into a game and party in just a few button presses.