The popularity and consistent use of Downloadable Content (DLC) is thus followed by the addition of User Generated Content (UGC) in games. They are not the same thing or function the same way. UGC contents are put into games allowing players to create their own contents within a particular game i.e. build and customize a character, create a new level or map and so on. Instead of buying addition contents (DLC) for a game, User Generated contents (UGC) are tools placed within a game that allows you create your own contents. They are not downloadable contents but instead tools like level editors and character customization and so on built within a game usually gained upon the release of that game.
A typical example that’s very popular and caught on lately is LittleBigPlanet, reaching a landmark achievement with an astonishing 6 million User generated games, LittleBigPlanet UGC is probably the most popular and shared game in terms of utilizing User Generated Contents. The ability to create your own Levels, designs, and even customize characters which can then be shared for everyone to take advantage of is exceptional. User Generated contents not only extends the replay value of a game, but it also gives players a creative outlet while allowing them to share their work with the rest of the world. LittleBigPlanet is just the sort of game that attracts this feature, the game is a puzzle plat-former with a creative aspect of whom you’re allowed to built your own world, environment and customize your own character as well as sharing it with others within LittleBigPlanet online community.
As acknowledged from LittleBigPlanet, UGC has proven to be more relevant than ever from a business point of view and consumers yet alone it looks even more promising for the future as games and item creation tools become more accessible to users. Although the concept hasn't been adopted by many games it’s still a future prospect as it has such an impact into video games. As it’s intensively creative, it allows players to gain a new level of enjoyment adding to their gaming experience. Take for example Trials Evolution released for XBOX 360 and PC in 2012. The game features a multiplayer and single player mode as well as a User Generated Content called “Track Central”. Track Central is Trials Evolution hub for user created content. Tracks can be created using Track Editors (Lite Editor and Pro Editor) whilst you can also upload (Get Tracks) or play (Play Tracks) other people tracks.
The track editor content allows you to create Skill Games, Single Player tracks, and Supercross tracks, it features:
-Approximately 1500 tools, objects, and variations
- Curved racing lines
- Outdoor Environment
- Skill Games Creation
- Trials (Single Player) and Supercross (4-player) Tracks creation
- Editable Terrain
Key elements of User Generated Contents
The key elements to note about User Generated content are that:
- They are not the same as downloadable contents.
- Downloadable content are contents that adds to a game that cannot be edited to the extent of UGC that allow players to edit and create what they want usually depending on the game itself. I.e. a racing game with UGC may allow you to create a track or vehicles were as an action adventure game may allow you to customise weapon and characters or even create levels.
- UGC can be uploaded or shared with other players, most game with user generated contents:
- Has an online community outlet whereby the games or levels created can be shared with other people whilst you can also play or upload other people contents.
- UGC always allow you to create (creation center) or edit (level editor) something. It can be a level like in LittleBigPlanet or map like Far Cry 3, a track like in Track Evolution, a characters like in Fight Night Round 4 and so on.
- These contents remarkably extend the life long use of a game, as they allow players to create their own levels, maps or whatever that in-turn keeps them playing the game and be creative.
- The main advantages are
- It allows player to get more involved and enjoy a particular game.
- It make games more interesting, the ability to create and share your own content leads to hall new dimension of playing which in-turn boost players gaming experience.
- By allowing a player to create their own content it can lead to a completely new style of play and a new game as oppose to the original game.
- It can take a game that you might have played for a few hours and extend it to something you can enjoy for years to come i.e. LittleBigPlanet.
- It can drive the sales of existing games due vast amount of contents created and shared.
- UGC are used differently in games depending on the genre
- Racing game usually has UGC for players to customise their vehicle, character and to create tracks
- A fighting game UGC would typically be based around creating your own fighter, having different ability and fighting technique, these are often found in boxing and WWE games.
- An action adventure game may have a UGC for level editors to create a map like in Far Cry 2, or also weapon customisation, or crafting weapons like in Dead Space3, editing emblems like in call of duty Black Ops 2.
- A strategic or puzzle game may allow you to create your own puzzle like Echochrome II.
By allowing users to create and manipulate a game using User Generated Content, it opens up an endless world of possibilities for them, which is why UGC undoubtedly makes games better and more interesting. Although there aren’t many games out there supporting UGC, there are still few games that would remarkably benefit from the concept.
Example: F1 Race Stars 2012
F1 Race Stars is an arcade kart racing game based on the 2012 Formula One season with circuits redesigned to feature loops, jumps, pick up, speedy runways and short-cut including many different weaponries used to damage other drivers like in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. The game has an outstanding resemblance with LittleBigPlanet karting as they’re both kart racing games. As part of the LittleBigPlanet series, LittleBigPlanet karting has a User Generated Contents developed by United Front Games, who had previously developed the 2010 user-generated content kart racing game ModNation Racers. The User Generated Contents used in both ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet karting would well fit in with F1 Race Stars. These games have a profound similarity whereby they adopt the same system and features like small characters and fast kart vehicles, speedy tracks and runways, jumping platforms and pick-ups with many sort of weaponries. However if F1 Race Stars had embrace that motto of “play, create and share” like LittleBigPlanet Karting it would have been remarkable and much more valued than what it is now. In comparison, LittleBigPlanet Karting had a good reputation mainly due to the fact that it embraced that creative outlet (UGC) from LBP franchise making it one of the most unique and enjoyable kart racers. It gained an aggregate review score of 73.28% from GameRankings and 73/100 from Metacritic whereas F1 Race Stars had 64/100 Metacritic and 66.19% from GameRankings, this clearly states how much of an impact LittleBigPlanet Karting has as oppose to F1 Race Stars, that similar sort of UGC used in LittleBigPlanet Karting really lacked in F1 Race Stars which would have made the game even more successful and one of a kind.
The main User Generated Content mechanism used in LittleBigPlanet karting is the track editor, having that ability to create your own track within this game makes it even more enjoyable and exceptional. Track editor is basically comprised with tools to build your own environment of a racing track. This is how the feature is imposed in both ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet karting that F1 Race Stars could have adopted the same way.
ModNation Racers – Track Studio is the main feature to create and share tracks in ModNation Racers, This feature allows you to create background themes, edit terrain, adjust paving of the road while Steamroller the tracks using standard driving controls.
LittleBigPlanet Karting track editor features a simple, powerful and familiar set of Create tools found in LittleBigPlanet and in ModNation Racers that easily allow you to build your own tracks, design unique power-ups or customize your karts.
This is how F1 Race Stars not only lacked that competitive edge against the other karting games but deeply missed out on an opportunity to gain such attraction and audience by utilizing these sort User Generated Content tools. having that ability to create your own track and customize your own character or vehicle would have had such an impact if they were added on to F1 Race Stars as UGC. Players would have had the possibility create an endless amount of UGC Games which would have made the game so popular.