Expanding Your Product Line With End-User Content

There’s another trend starting to take hold in online games.   Where mobile game development is concerned, you can’t keep your eyes solely on mobile.   The same extends to mobile business development, too.   This is another discussion underlining that as a developer, you have more resources available than meets the eye.

First, I’d like to point to some relatively recent or otherwise noteworthy “game changers” in the world of online gaming.

  • Planet Arkadia recently made news announcing the first virtual-reality, $1 million real cash property investment;
  • Everquest Next offers a means whereby players can sell their in-game creations for real money;
  • Neverwinter Nights Online’s Foundry System enables players to add their own content to the game and earn in-game currency.

Many other games have helped pioneer the possibilities of end-user generated content (like Secondlife) or enabling players to make real money from their gaming.

The simple fact of the matter is a company that enables anyone to contribute directly to its success by providing content will beat almost any other company that does not — in the long-term.

The problem with most games is that they eventually run out of content owing to a limited number of developers, limited time to playtest, plus the need to expand game play parameters (monsters or opponents and puzzles, character levels, abilities, equipment, and other items requiring scaled development).   The quality of end-user content can be left, at least in part, to other players.   Enabling enthusiastic end-users to create content for your game can radically expand your company’s production capacity.

One factor worth noting is that there are games and there are game platforms/engines.   It is difficult to imagine every game being built from scratch.  For that reason, game engines like Unreal 4, Shiva, Marmalade and others were created.  While these are written in programming languages, there are the equivalent of WYSIWYG editors for these engines that can enable non-programmers to develop game content.

Fundamentally though, if you are aiming to actively compete and grow your customer base, there are a number of things you would do well to examine not just from a development and production standpoint, but from a business development perspective, too.

  1. Make it easy for end-users to submit their ideas to you.   At the very least, have a template letter to thank them for their ideas, whether or not you use it.  Odds are you will receive a lot of ideas that you will decide not to move on – whether too difficult to implement, game balance issue, products ideas that would be difficult to market profitably.  You should get some good ones, too.
  2. Examine the viability of enabling end-users to produce content for you, like making available your WYSIWYG editor to registered game owners or subscribers.   You will want to assess and delineate how you handle quality control and testing.
  3. Niche products and customized apps.  Developers of other forms of media (books, movies, etc.) may have an interest in promoting their primary product via a mobile app.  In some cases, this may simply involve graphical and text changes — where players are shooting aliens instead of zombies.  You can look at sub-licensing, cooperative development, or other arrangements.

I recently talked with a published author who wanted to do something like this, but his letters to different game companies never received a response.  Point is, that people in other professions or promoting other products may actually have stronger marketing abilities, programs and funding – but all they might need is your technical and programming expertise.   This is an entire business model unto itself.

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Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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