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User Generated Content (UGC) in games, better known as “mods”, are a big part of the gaming experience. It’s also a contentious topic for game developers. However, the GamesBeat Summit panelists suggested that the industry could reconcile the idea in the Learning to love UGC: Harnessing player choice panel. It was moderated by GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb.
The panelists said that the mods can have several benefits for a game and its developers. Damien Mauric, SVP of Business Development at Sega Studios, said of UGC, “As a publisher, we love to support modding and the community… We’ve always encouraged the community to create content because it allows us to do multiple things. First, to keep delivering content for players, which is great. But also to make sure they stay engaged with the game and the franchise.”
Romain de Waubert, Studio Head and CCO at Amplitude Studios, shared how the studio supported mods for its latest game, Humankind. “[UGC] will keep the game alive for a very long time… and sometimes in the past we’ve seen that it would evolve our games. We have content that we would never think of, but sometimes there are improvements to the actual vanilla game that we would never think of.” He also said that mods are a “huge source of inspiration.”
How to integrate UGC into games
Scott Reismanis, founder and CEO of mod.io, a mod support solution, said that UGC can sometimes be restricted by access. “In a way, only the hardcore gamers could access this content because they had to exit the game, go to the site, download it, then install it and hope it works.” As Reismanis pointed out, Mod.io is working on making mods more universal and easier to find.
One factor that game publishers need to consider is whether UGC can be monetized. Mauric added: “At the moment we are still evaluating what monetization of UGC could mean as there are many legal implications… What would happen if someone in the community brought in unlicensed third party content and started monetizing it? So there is a big risk for publishers here. Curation and moderation is one of the aspects that should be viewed with great caution.”
Reismanis added that creators can encourage their communities and be cautious. “The more you enable [creators], the more they will experiment, and that should be celebrated and encouraged. However, taking the next step and potentially introducing commercialization will require a lot of thought. That probably doesn’t necessarily mean introducing it to a game that has a large, established audience and modding community and then changing the rules for them. There will certainly be steps, and perhaps the first step could be patronage for these types of models, where it’s almost a voluntary contribution from the players who want to support their favorite creators and encourage them to create more and different content.”
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