User-Generated Content: The List

I love the fact that thanks to organizations like Valve, Maxis, and Bioware, user-generated content is attracting tremendous attention from industry and media alike. Still, coverage typically revolves around a single point of interest, i.e. “UGC makes games more interesting” or “UGC can help drive sales.” So I thought I’d compile a (by no means exhaustive) list of the good business-y things about UGC in the context of games:

  • It can extend the life and drive the sales of existing games. (Example 1, Example 2)
  • It can lead to entirely new games, not just new styles of play. (Example 1)
  • It can drive virtual businesses (and whole economies) which generate profit for developer and customer alike. (Example 1, Example 2)
  • It can reduce the cost of populating games with content, and make those games more dynamic and interesting. (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3)
  • It can take advantage of non-game-based UGC, such as Flickr and YouTube content, using it (in some cases) to blur the lines between the real and virtual world. (Example 1, Example 2)
  • It can help game developers identify potential employees. (Example 1)
  • Machinima! (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3)
  • It can lead to novel uses for game engines, other than machinima. (Example 1, Example 2)
  • It could help reduce piracy. (Example 1)
  • It could inform businesses and lead to the development of real-world products. (Example 1)
  • It can become viral marketing for real-world businesses. (Example 1, Example 2)

The list could have gotten much bigger, but I think most interesting points can be subsumed within these larger buckets. (For example, “makes games better” goes into #1, 2, and 4). That said, let me know if I missed anything major!

PS. When the debate over the term user-generated content finally ends, can someone let me know which feel-good phrase wins out? I no longer have the patience to follow along.  😉

PPS. There was a great (non-game-specific) article in the NYTimes yesterday about how UGC is revolutionizing consumer products like clothing, soda, etc.

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