a16z: The economic future of game creators is here

Sometimes, the difference between game manufacturers and players is on the line, but the speed of the latter to clear the game can be much faster than the speed of the former to create the game. Therefore, in a high-risk and high-return industry like gaming, creativity is very important, but at present, creativity is relatively scarce. Talent can be regarded as one of the biggest bottlenecks for the industry, which is why for game studio managers, user-generated content can become a fertile soil for the creator’s economy. People can create and consume on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch, and these large participating communities have now become a growing economic center for creators. And now, the creator economy has entered the game industry.

Of course, in the past few decades, game studios have been tapping the potential of fans and providing themselves with a source of innovation. Doom is probably the most famous first-person shooter game of all time. It was successful in the 1990s, and this has to be attributed to one of its practices: open its bottom layer to anyone who is willing to build additional levels and add-ons. Source code-it is the originator of the original game that promotes the phenomenon of “modification”. After completing the release of the first-person shooter game “Half-Life”, Valve has gradually developed from a publisher to a mature digital platform (including the world’s largest PC game digital market Steam). To this day, Valve has launched one of the most successful games in history, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”, which is also a product of their self-made derivatives.

Although user-generated content in games has a long and rich history, in the traditional sense, users’ contributions to games are considered a form of self-expression or niche behavior: participants create content because they love it. Games, community awareness, not necessarily for monetary gains. Now, this situation is changing: game studios are gradually realizing that the value creators bring to their games is worthy of real cash rewards. For example, Roblox is a popular multiplayer online creation game-last year ’s spending to external developers nearly tripled; while new-generation games such as  The Sandbox  and Mythical Games, players can build and Have your own blockchain-based gaming experience.

We see that the creator economy is gradually penetrating the game industry, and players are exploring new ways to monetize their contributions , whether by building original game worlds, creating and selling in-game products on the blockchain, or through new Game streaming tools interact with fans. At the same time, studios and game developers realized that creating opportunities for players to contribute-while sharing profits-is actually a competitive advantage. This is critical to revitalizing the potential economy in game design and distribution. 

The economics behind the UGC boom

The rise of user-generated content (UGC) is not accidental: to a large extent it is a necessity. You know, the cost of making games continues to rise. An analysis conducted by game design legend Raph Koster before the new crown epidemic found that if calculated per megabyte, the effective creation cost of a US$5 million standalone mobile game and a US$100 million cross-platform large-scale game are the same. . This explains why large issuers tend to avoid risk – or at least weigh their investments very carefully .

However, even the investment of large issuers cannot become a driving force for continuous innovation. The competitive advantage of game studios stems from their ability to develop cool new experiences. If there are “too many similarities, slightly different”, it will be difficult to survive in a click-driven market. By opening up creations to players and external developers, publishers effectively outsource the innovation process and reduce their business risks. By shifting development responsibilities from a small team of professional designers to a large group of fans and enthusiastic players, the entire design process can be greatly expanded. Opening up game building modules and encouraging players to access and develop in-game items and experiences for others can unearth more novel content. This is also the Beta testing process that has been ongoing in the early days.

According to Samantha Ryan, Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts, in the past five years, Electronic Arts game developer Maxis has produced approximately 5,000 individual costumes for the Sims game “The Sims.” She pointed out in a recent panel discussion:

“But if you look at one of our largest user-generated content sites, you will see that they created 39,000 works in the same period. As a professional development company, we can’t keep up with our players.”

Game executives like Samantha Ryan are now disclosing this fact. As we all know, traditional publishers are often very slow in adopting novel revenue models and technologies (VR is a typical example). They are more inclined to “wait and see” until they are forced to enter a certain field at a high price, usually through acquisitions. For example: when Activision Blizzard finally entered the mobile game field in 2016, it spent $5.9 billion to acquire King Digital. In this new era—large-scale fan participation plus game monetization—it can be seen that the creativity and viral spread of games is not driven by conservative traditional companies, but by external (usually social) forces. Driven.

For game developers, there is another benefit: most publicly traded and private industries now generate revenue through service models, so there is a glut of content. Digitization and the subsequent free game revenue model make games accessible to everyone. With the large number of available games, it has become more expensive to associate consumers with content. User-generated content offsets marketing costs, because through it, companies can more easily retain players and reduce player churn. Become a member of an active community and provide a steady stream of new content for your favorite games. This practice can encourage players to persist for a longer period of time. At the same time, this has a positive impact on the average game life cycle and reduces threats from opponents.

Making social games is more than just playing

When participating in most traditional forms of entertainment, we are actually very passive: for example, the “Squid Game” carnival wave brought by Netflix; for example, going to a concert. But the game is completely different, the audience can actively participate in it, and even reflect the spirit of entertainment, so the game is changing all of this. Through the experience of Roblox, The Sandbox and Rec Room and other games, we found that the focus of these games is to make games. User-generated content is not just a new way to play—it is also a gradually feasible way of monetization, a form of identity, and a social bond.

Character creation has long been the core of role-playing games. Through user-generated content, the characters in the game become fuller and more expressive. At the same time, these tailor-made avatars can not only get a unique adventure experience in the game, but also help users increase emotional connections. (Through the creation of companies such as Itsme and Genies, these characters have become more and more personalized.) It is worth mentioning that we do not visit the game world through anonymous avatars or game tokens, but through the unique skills of the characters Explore the game world with different personalities. In one round of the game, I may become a sniper and plunge into the battle; or I may become an undead gangster and do the task by myself. Gameplay will gradually change from a form of entertainment to a form of expression.

Of course, the deeper part of the game is still social-the emotional needs of users are not only to be able to connect, but to be able to create and contribute. By developing novel game objects or experiences, we can share with others instead of just playing games. Nowadays, many social media interaction methods are only limited to swiping the screen. The difference is that in the game world, players can interact in real time as virtual identities—some users can even interact in customizable game worlds such as Rec Room. marry. Of course, the original artwork (characters and scene picture materials used in the production of the game leaked before the game was released) has been around for a long time, but it has not become a revenue model because it is now included in the game.


In the past thirty years, as the game experience has gradually enriched, players have begun to participate in more and more important decision-making, and finally move towards higher-level customization, and this means that we are moving towards a single An objective experience waved goodbye. Maybe we are playing the same game, but we are gradually starting to experience it in our own way. Today, through the development of user-generated content, we can also share and sell these tailor-made experiences with others.

Like the media, education, and crypto world before it, the creator economy is now embodied in the broader gaming industry. In the past, modifying original content and user-generated content was regarded as a source of value-added income reserved for game fans, but now, the practice of making games, participating in battles, trading and selling in-game creations will also become an integral part of the player experience -There is no doubt that the economic future of game creators has come.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/a16z-the-economic-future-of-game-creators-is-here/
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