The PlayStation Network Welcome Back program appears to have been a success for Media Molecule, creator of the LittleBigPlanet franchise. The first game in the series was offered as one of the free titles available to returning PS3 owners. It appears many decided to give the platformer a try, as Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans told Develop attendees that LBP has seen 1.5 million new users since the outage a few months ago.
It's no wonder so many gamers flocked to LittleBigPlanet when offered for free, given how expansive the offering of user-generated levels are. There are now 4.7 million levels available in the game. "There's multiple levels published every second. You can no longer keep up with the amount of content," Evans added.
The success of LittleBigPlanet as a free game is a little ironic, as Evans recalled what former Sony president Phil Harrison told the developers the game should be: "it should be free to play, it should have a new business model, it should be downloadable, it should do DLC, it should do user-generated content." That original pitch was over five years ago.
Although LittleBigPlanet is no longer being offered for free (the Welcome Back program has since ended), there's a lot of potential revenue for Sony to generate from those 1.5 million new users. There are over 130 add-ons available for the game (mostly costumes), ranging from $0.99 to $5.99 each. Research firm EEDAR discovered that PS3 owners are "ready to buy" content on the PlayStation Store again--meaning LBP's free-to-play offering may end up being a lucrative deal for Sony.