I like Valve. The development company is one of the major reasons the PC market has remained a thriving platform for core gaming even in the face of dedicated gaming consoles. Valve offer
indie developers and modders a platform for distribution through the Steam service. It also revitalize classic titles with similar distribution deals. So when managing director Gabe Newell
talks about crowd-funding games,
it might not just be a cursory side comment.
interesting concept. Games are expensive to make, and crowd-funding or pre-purchases could certainly help bankroll titles, especially for smaller developers. But if the crowds are
financing the games, it begs the question: What about crowd-sourced games?
Crowd-sourcing has worked out great for a number of brands, and has proven to be a very powerful evolution from
user-generated content. Looking at RYZ Shoes
, or the success Starbucks has had from MyStarbucksIdea, it's clear some very nifty things have been created
by listening to user contribution. However, gaming and entertainment properties haven't really begun that listening process.
Sure, almost every game publisher runs a forum and
employs community moderators -- but user contributions rarely impact the final product unless there is nearly unanimous clamoring for a change that borders on a bug fix. While many user
suggestions in any forum are useless, often there are some very astute users with incredibly clever solutions or additions.
Community contributions to games can actually have tremendous
results. "Counter-Strike" (the mega-hit and violent videogame scapegoat before "Grand Theft Auto") was born from a user-generated project. Portal, a later high-profile Valve
release, started as a student project. EA's "Sporepedia" has more than 113 million user-created submissions, and "LittleBigPlanet" has seen over a million
added to it by users since release.
With the trend toward digital distribution, many new market opportunities open up around content that scales based on user demand.
Embracing the crowd, and creating a framework for a new market model supported by collective contributions (both financial and creative) could pay off in spades.