Global Game Industry News Blog

Thursday, April 19, 2007

User Generated "CONTENT" (?)

So, there has been a whole lot going on recently about Game 3.0 (apparently Web 2.0 meets Video Games) (And it's really Game 1.0 = Games on Carts/CD's, Game 2.0 = Game 1.0 + Networking, Game 3.0 = Game 2.0 + User Content). As much as I am a fan of thinking about games as media, in particular because console video game systems dominate the game world so much, this isn't quite the same.

So, let's take YouTube for example. You have the ability (perhaps against other media corporations desires otherwise) to take their content and mash it your own way. Perhaps it's just a simple Anime + Music = AMV (Anime Music Video). Perhaps it's your own custom shot or computer generated material set to music. The point is that you have the ability to pull that content from somewhere else and put it at your disposal.

It's not quite the same for video games. It's especially not so much the same for video games. So, I'd like to remix that last Spidey level and redistribute on YouGame. ... ... Ummm... where do I start? Not quite the same.

Now, Little Big Planet "empowers" users by providing them with a world which they can do these things. But what if I want to change a basic mechanic to customize it a bit more? What if I want to make Little Big Nudie Planet? Not to sleight the guys making Little Big Planet, they're doing a phenomenal job, we just have to realize that it's not the same as YouTube.

This is also complicated by the fact that Web 2.0 is founded on a whole lot of things that Game 3.0 just hasn't done. Open API's, Open Protocols, things like XML, and a whole bunch of other things that really empowers users. In the case of console video games you have none of this foundational material.

In many ways I see XNA as having a greater YouTube potential, because though you end up having to do more work, as people develop tools and pieces, you'll see more (and more different) examples of this.

Nintendo and Sony (though Sony seems to be talking a lot) haven't really figured out that they're going to have to open up more than they have to really embrace this idea, and really, if they don't, MS is the one who is going to win.

What publishers are really worried about is:

Making the Social Connection: How Small Developers and Publishers Can Take On Game Industry Giants

But... Even these comments fail to really engage with the barriers of access to the technologies that really offer the most opportunity for companies to make money and build sustainable work environments.

Making the Social Connection: How Small Developers and Publishers Can Take On Game Industry Giants
According to the NPD Group, total computer and video game industry sales hit $13.5 billion in 2006, almost a 20 percent increase from the year before. The vast majority of those sales came from titles released by major publishers and distributors, not from smaller, independent developers. While we depend on the likes of EA and Ubisoft to deliver blockbusters like The Sims and Rainbow Six, we often don't recognize the importance of indie developers in fueling the creative engine of game design and production.
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Remaining independent means taking on all the costs of creating, producing, marketing and distributing a title. These costs are high, and a crowded marketplace makes it even more challenging for independent developers to make their presence known. In addition, many smaller firms are made up of just a few employees, whose skills skew toward programming or animation rather than sales or business development.
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Not necessarily. Since the late 1990s, some small companies have gone the direct route, selling their games online or making their titles open source as a means by which to generate a player base. For example, Positech Games, based in the U.K., was recently highlighted on the popular developers' forum GameDeveloper.net, for its claims to have reached the $100,000 mark purely through online sales.
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Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have transformed the way that independent filmmakers and musicians reach new audiences and sell their work. The next wave of social networking, a trend Sony Computer Entertainment calls "Game 3.0," will change the way independent game creators take their games to market.
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But these sites lack a crucial element – game developer participation. FairShare, a new technology my company announced at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this year, is, amongst other things, designed to connect developers with players through game-related social networking. An engine that runs underneath gaming portals, FairShare lets players sample new games through a try-before-you-buy option. It offers incentives for players to share, recommend and give feedback on new games, and it gives developers a chance to sell games, gain visibility and build their reputations among the game aficionado community.

The Game 3.0 future for independent developers will be rooted in social networks, where developers can make their games available online, players can try, buy, share, and offer feedback on the games, and developers can respond, making changes or developing new titles based on that feedback.

Just as Facebook and Myspace make every participant an owner of his or her own content on the Web, a Game 3.0 style portal must provide a sense of ownership for both players and developers. For indies, the Game 3.0 trend opens new opportunities for connecting with gamers who want to buy their titles, as well as the chance to build communities with other developers and gamers.


Game publishers threatened by user-generated content
Got an idea for a video, a song, a podcast, a game? Make it, put it online, and people will find it. We all benefit from the mind-bogglingly wide variety of stuff to consume, and the competition increases quality for everyone. The dinosaurs who have become rich off outmoded means of production and distribution are quaking in terror. Some, like SCEA president Phil Harrison, are making attempts to adapt and thrive.

What Do Media Executives Fear?
User-generated content was named by 57 percent of respondents as one of the top three issues they face today. More that 70 percent believed that social media would continue to grow, while only 3 percent said they viewed social media as a fad.
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"Traditional, established content providers will have to adapt and develop new business and monetization models in order to keep revenue streams flowing. The key to success will be identifying new forms of content that can complement their traditional strengths."

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