Crowdsourced, developer-selected video game content
Companies who develop and publish video games require a continuous source of unique and compelling creative content in the form of new game concepts, new game franchises, new features, and expansions for existing games to remain competitive in the global video game industry. Given that firm resources are, by nature, limited in scope and scale, the firm’s organic creative resources and development capabilities will always be unable to globally maximize the scope and scale of the firm’s creative ideation. However, simultaneously, there is some level of latent creative ideation resident within the “crowd” of the online gaming community, where a diverse set of creatively-inclined individuals may be interested in providing creative ideas for these purposes in return for some reward. Yet this “crowd” has neither the programming, development, and distribution resources of a video game company, nor the resolve and inclination of a commercial entity – both of these elements are required to move creative ideas from raw ideation to commercialized content.
Significant value could be derived from a platform that, on one side, provided a low cost means for these companies to acquire curated, crowdsourced creative ideas, and on the other side, provided a potentially rewarding yet near zero cost means for individuals in the “crowd” to supply those creative ideas.
Create a online platform marketplace where players are able to upload ideas for new content. More specifically, users would have free access to the platform and a list of games by title with the corresponding features on which to submit creative content (e.g. maps, worlds, characters, weapons, storylines, etc). The user would submit a written proposal with supporting graphic designs; if the user required graphic design support, DevGame would use in-house graphic artists to help generate a minimal amount of design content for a low nominal fee. Next, DevGame would validate proposals as authentic and complete to ensure quality control and curation. With a sufficient number of proposals, DevGame would make individual content available to game developers, as well as central creative themes from the aggregated ideas. Game developers would retain the role of selecting the specific content, compensating the selected user for his/her content. Although the marketplace would be initially used for product extension (e.g. in-game add-ins), the marketplace would eventually be expanded to allow for product derivatives or entirely new games. In the latter case, game developers could use individual submissions or mix and match components from different entries. DevGame would work with both users and developers to assist in naming and licensing requirements to protect generated content.
Design of Demonstration
The demonstration would have to accomplish the two goals of validating the quantity and quality of submissions in order to make the marketplace viable for game developers. In order to achieve this outcome, DevGame would select a popular game title that depends on constantly producing new content in order to maintain its user base (e.g. Fortnite) and list specific features on which users could submit proposals. After an initial trial period of collecting submissions, the game developer would select an idea for implementation. The game would then be updated using the user generated content. Then over a period of several weeks, statistics about player growth, retention and reviews of new content would be collected and then compared against the historic figures. If successful, the results would show that the crowdsourced content would be more in-tune with what users want and would lead to higher participation.
The pilot program would begin by launching the marketplace across a few specific college campuses that are well-known for producing graduates headed to video game development. We would partner with a well-known developer to ensure that users had access to a viable product, with the first contest beginning with in-game add-ons for the selected title. After a set period of time, the contest would close and the winning submission made public to the online forum, generating the necessary user interest for follow-on contests.
The global video game industry is projected to reach $90B in sales by 2020. Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest game developers, had $4.7B in revenue in 2017. Thus, enabling a 1-10% increase in either market size (value creation) or individual company revenue (value capture) represents both an achievable and substantial outcome. As a brief example of the size of development costs, Rockstar Games spent $265 million on the development of Grand Theft Auto V alone and has released several expansions since in order to maintain revenue. Although numerous companies have attempted to crowd-select creative content (i.e. have the crowd decide the next feature of the game), no companies currently act as a marketplace for the aggregation of creative content. Moreover, crowdsourced and selected games, while numerous in quantity, have achieved fairly mundane results. Thus, DevGame would be a free service for the user while charging a fee to game developers to access crowdsourced creative content. Additionally, companies would provide incentives, either monetary or in-game rewards, to players whose content was selected and then developed. Following the completion of an initial launch phase, DevGame could increase its value capture by implementing some scalable toll or fee on the value of content passing in both directions across the DevGame platform – from company to user, and from user to company.
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