In his latest Variable Declarations column for Develop, executive editor Owain Bennallack wonders if user-generated content has already lost its allure as, despite big games LittleBigPlanet and Spore boasting the function, little other games are following their lead.
"Speaking to developers in late 2006 about making Web 2.0-inspired games a key theme at Develop in Brighton in 2007, we were met with polite bemusement," says Bennallack "The next 12 months saw Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet wow E3, GDC go big on Web 2.0, Microsoft’s Chris Satchell keynote the Brighton conference on the same subject, and Facebook sign-up most of the UK industry for a summer of clicking through pictures of their colleagues drinking with old university pals.
"Now everyone gets it, to the extent that Web 2.0 is a hackneyed, faintly embarrassing phrase, and Facebook no more exciting than Hotmail. Yet we’re still not seeing the push from the industry I’d expect, given the proven power of network effects and UGC to engage gamers, as is being amply demonstrated by Spore."
And developers should move quick to capitalise on this area, he adds: "Games had a headstart long ago with MMOGs, of course; the likes of Second Life and Eve Online are way ahead in exploring these opportunities. Still, I think we’ve only just begun. We won’t be shocked in a few years by thousands of enthusiasts creating content for games like Spore, but rather that in 2008 Will Wright was so lonely in championing them."