American McGee Says User-Generated Content Should Be “Compensated”


American McGee says gamers who create content for games like LittleBigPlanet should be “compensated” for their efforts because of the added value they contribute to the game.

In an interview with, McGee pointed out that the “new trend” toward user-generated content in games actually goes as far back as the Doom days, when players created thousands of new graphics, sounds and entire WAD files for the classic id shooter. “The only difference now is that someone is trying to monetize it,” McGee said. “That’s all fine and good, but I think if game products or publishers are relying on ‘outside the box’ content created by users to drive interest in their titles – then they should find ways of compensating those users for developing added value. That might even inspire the user content communities to step up their game.”

He also touched on the evolution of digital distribution and free-to-play models for games. “The free-to-play [model] inside open worlds with monetization of items and information works well. The free-to-play with the expectation that users might return to pay for linear content they’ve already accessed (essentially the ‘TV model’) needs refinement, in the content itself and/or the content access mechanism,” he said. “Audiences will pay to buy content like South Park even after they’ve seen the episodes 10s of times – passive entertainment requires nothing more than sitting back and watching. Whereas interactive content – if you did purchase it – requires additional effort to extract the value. There’s probably a new profit-generating psychological sweet spot in here, but we’ve not yet found it.”

“Compensating” gamers for user-generated content is an interesting idea but I think McGee’s suggestion that the attempted monetization of that content is a new idea is off-base. User-created levels for games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3-D were cranked out by the thousands and for the most part floated around freely, but that didn’t stop “value” publishers from capitalizing on other people’s work by creating and selling compilations like D!Zone and Demon Gate. McGee’s sentiment is admirable but taking advantage of the work of fans is hardly a new phenomenon.

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