Crowdsourcing and the Game Industry

Everything is a game these days – where you’re going for dinner is now an opportunity to become “mayor” of a location on Foursquare or working to identify deep space transmissions for SETI in order to be their most avid contributor, to say nothing of straight-up games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

Recently, Neon Play (a UK-based game company) went looking for new games to develop. And, for the first time, they didn’t depend entirely on the work of their R&D team to generate ideas, concepts, and testing for new products, they created a crowdsourcing competition and got a whole new game called Rollerhog, created by Patrick Jamison.

The game is simple and though just released, already maintains a nearly five-star rating. Essentially players just roll through Hogland, meeting its characters, side-swiping flowers, and finding sweets to open the Hyper Mode in which Rollerhog dances.

But what I liked best about the Rollerhog story was how the winner was not a programmer or a developer. He literally old-school wrote down the idea on a piece of paper simply because he loves the gaming world. And now not only has his idea seen the light of day, but he receives 25% of the game’s revenue – not bad for a bar coaster idea.

And still Oli Christie of NeonPlay believes that crowdsourcing will not replace traditional development methods: there is no quality guarantee and companies obliged to select a winner often end up wasting money on an idea that could even risk ruining their legitimacy. Not to mention the risks to the crowd that put their ideas out there. According to Christie, “The crowdsourcing concept can be cut-throat with its intense competition and can also lead to legal risks and intellectual property infringement. It’s important to always go into the process with your eyes open and understanding the small print.”

What do you think of Rollerhog? Do you think that crowdsourcing will ever replace traditional game ideation?

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