Saturday, August 05, 2006

Free Market Game Content

Wired has a short piece entitled "The Infinite Arcade" that describes the downloading phenomenon that is hitting next gen consoles. The article describes many of the small games that can be downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace for only a few points like the popular Geometry Wars and hits on a few other topics such as the ever-expanding cost of game development, episodic gaming, and downloadable content for existing games.

What the article does not cover is how this has already come to pass in the PC gaming industry where you don't need a specialized service to browse, search, and download content like small casual games (it's called the internet).

More importantly the article completely misses something that is already occurring in worlds like Second Life, where purchaseable content comes from other players, not the game producers/developers. I'm not talking about complete games, but customization for your avatar, clothing, buildings, services. Oblivion has purchaseable content but it's produced by Bethesda Studios. I think the next gen PC games will have to open up content production to the masses, not just for mod-makers ala Counterstrike or Day of Defeat for Half Life, but ALL content. What if, instead of paying Bethesda for that horse, you instead payed Robert Smith for his horse so that you can ride around in Oblivion while Bethesda takes a cut off the top? Robert Smith makes one type of horse (let's say a black stallion) while Bob Smythe makes a different type (let's say a white one). It's called the free market and I think it would explode current games to a far more participatory realization. It would free up developers from having to produce the content (they could just vet it for things like sexual content), and allow the notoriously crafty mod-making community a source of revenue for their efforts while allowing players to customize their virtual worlds to their heart's, and their wallet's, content. Instead of having players farming gold in MMORPGS to sell on the black market, players would actually create content (maybe even tie it in the game somewhat so they have to quest to achieve certain items in order to craft customizable ones). It's a win-win situation for everyone.

No comments: