The gaming industry has long acknowledged that many of the same people who buy and play it’s published titles are also would-be content creators. PC Game modders pioneered this by taking a new theme or flavour and applying it to an existing gaming engine to create a whole new experience. With a simple download, games like Half Life and Quake suddenly became The Simpsons or a game of American football.
A lot of game makers have embraced this creativity by developing sophisticated level creators that ship alongside the published title. As content is drip-fed into the gaming community, gamers benefit by enjoying more value from their initial purchase and the title’s longevity is extended.
The downloadable content ecosystem of today’s always-on connected, loungeroom consoles makes this kind of thing ripe for the picking for brands. Incremental content updates are common place and can either be offered free for promotional reasons or publishers can charge a small transaction fee using the console’s cash-to-points system. So far most of the content that has been distributed this way has been developed by the original developer of the game but as creation begins to play a bigger role in the game itself, all kinds of people (and companies) will begin to offer up downloadable additions.
The PS3’s recent blockbuster release “Litte Big Planet”, is the gaming industry’s answer to Web 2.0 (except I think they called it Gaming 3.0… so it’s like 1.0 better). The whole premise of the game is to create and share levels so it’s pretty much ready for brands to get in there and tinker. One of the first I’ve seen to take up the challenge (apart from the many consumer-led copyright-infringements being pulled by an overzealous Sony) is Norwegian fashion label Moods of Norway. According to PS3 Fanboy, the level is all about “saving the world from fashion crisis”. It’s also got waffles in it. This kind of initiative seems like a good way to get branding in front of consumers whilst simultaneously offering some additional entertainment – and without having to develop a game from scratch (which can go horribly wrong).