Publishers not scared by UGC, says XNA boss

The rise and rise of user generated content is set to play a similar role in games as it has in music – but traditional boxed publishers are excited, not scared, by its prospects.

That’s according to the head of Xbox community developer service XNA, Chris Satchell, who this morning told a conference of game delegates that sales of triple-A boxed titles were not under threat by ‘bedroom development’.

However, addressing the GameHorizon Conference in Newcastle in a keynote speech this morning, Satchell said that bricks and mortar” retail was currently a barrier to creative titles getting into the hands of gamers – adding that the fiscal responsibilities of publicly-owned publishers also made it difficult for innovative ideas to get to market.

A big challenge to our industry is the rising cost, he said. Games are getting incredibly expensive to market and produce. Public companies [publishers] have the most control and have to manage risk – they have responsibility to their shareholders. They literally can’t afford to do new concepts. I’m not saying sequels are bad, but it’s hard to get new concept out in this industry. Nine of the top ten games of last year were sequels. And distribution, especially in console, is still reliant on bricks and mortar. There you face the problems of limited space, rising costs and real estate.”

Later, when asked about what boxed publishers made of content generated by XNA users making its way to Xbox Live, Satchell said:

The publisher reaction has been that some are really excited. We did a tour in the US, and found publishers actually see it as an add-on, rather than a threat [to sales].

They’re both excited about new concepts and excited by a raft of new creators to hire. We ran an XNA competition and publishers came to us and said: ‘We like these games, can you put me in touch [with the winners].’ They’re cautious, but they don’t think it can hurt their business and are hopeful about the possibilities.”

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