Americans may not be fully up to speed on the details, but know that nearly half of all PlayStation 2 consoles sold have been sold in Europe.

A big part of that popularity has been down to what's now known as Sony's "Party Starter" lineup: SingStar, Buzz! and EyeToy.

These were all developed by first-party studios in the UK (and driven by ex-Sony man Phil Harrison), and all were aimed at expanding the appeal of gaming beyond its traditional market. So Buzz! was aimed at families and parties. SingStar was aimed at the girl's night in, the gay lad's night in and drunken parties in general. And EyeToy was aimed at, well, everyone.

And all three have been a success. None more so than SingStar, however, which to date has sold an astonishing 17 million copies, again mostly in Europe. So what's the secret to the success of these games?

Sony Europe's Mike Haigh knows. It's the controllers. Speaking at DICE, Haigh says it's that each of those games uses a unique controller. Non-gamers are often terrified of control pads, so - as we've seen with the success of the wavy-wavy Wii - giving them a simple substitute (like Buzz's quiz-show controllers, EyeToy's camera and SingStar's microphones) can work wonders.


So Microsoft, take note! Oh, sorry, you already have.

Oh, and speaking of microphones, that picture up there? It's of the long-awaited wireless microphones for SingStar, which were promised to appear close to game's launch in late 2007 but will instead be out in the UK on March 20. 2009.


Sony's Social Success [Edge]