In the Switching Weapons post, Darth Marsden asked “Would you buy a game that didn’t have a machine gun?” And a clever question it is because it goes to the root of a particular issue that has been on my mind for a while, which we will return to in a moment. Although the question is a good one, for me it is not important because I don’t pay any attention to games until they are released. I like surprises!
However, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How successful would games be if they let you choose your weapons, locations, vehicles and enemies?” Allow me to expand on that.
In some ways I have already discussed something similar in Amateur Content Delivery but what I’m talking about here is more pick and mix.
In a another previous post entitled Valve, Steam and its Pricing Model, I argued that Valve should allow is customers to select exactly what games they buy as part of a package. Basically I’m upset and disappointed that I get Counter Strike Source, D.O.D. Source and goodness knows what else, when I will NEVER play them. Better for me if they included future SP releases.
Anyway, what if developers allowed customers to select almost every aspect of a game and the price would be decided by your choices? Forget the financial and business implications for a moment. First, let’s take a real world example: Half-Life 2.
Imagine you are purchasing this game via Steam. You reach an options section that allows you to choose which weapons you require (Perhaps you dislike hand guns!), which locations you require (Perhaps you dislike sandy beaches!) and which enemies you require (perhaps you dislike zombies!).
At this point you are probably thinking “Wouldn’t work! The locations and enemies are too closely linked to the story to miss parts out!” and I agree. Wouldn’t work. But thinking about stuff can be fun and sometimes leads to usable ideas (Not today though!). Of course by selecting certain features you automatically select others. If you choose Ravenholm as a level then you have to have Zombies.
Another point to consider is that you don’t want to tell the player everything they will see etc. Of course descriptions can be a little vague.
Now take it one step further, what if you were allowed to choose any weapons, locations, locations, vehicles and enemies from ANY game and put them into a new game.
By now you might be thinking “Still wouldn’t work! But it sure would be fun!”. And again I agree with you. In fact we’d probably end up with that car Homer Simpson designed for his brother – perfect for him but hated by the rest of the world.
Imagine some enterprising team decided to build games on a commission basis. You contact them and they create something from a detailed form you filled out. Other developers would supply weapons, levels, enemies etc and the team chooses what it wants from the selection available.
Everything is built for you, meaning the more you want – the more you pay. For me I would ask for only Black Mesa type environments (minimum of 20 detailed levels), a machine gun and an energy rifle, no zombies and few outdoor spaces. The bespoke team simply selects the levels and best weapons based on my requirements. They put together a basic story, which let’s be honest seem to be what a lot of FPS games seems to be, and package it all together and I download it via Steam.
Anybody can submit levels, models etc to the selectable repository. They can either sell their creations or receive a small fee every time it is used within a package. The amounts would be small but it is better to get some money for their hard work than nothing. OF course there would be the possibility that only the very popular weapons and levels are created but problems like this could be overcome with clever pricing.
There’s a good chance you are thinking this is a crazy idea and I admit you may be right. BUT, I think that this is an area that certainly needs more consideration. Many things in our lives can be personalised – your house, car, desk, clothes etc. Games have enormous potential for personalisation and interactivity. I can’t imagine a movie allowing me to adapt it to my desires. However, we do have control over the types of movies we watch and in the most basic way we are personalising our viewing time. I’m suggesting we take it a few steps further.