There’s a perception from certain developers (or more importantly, publishers) that if you provide an SDK or allow open modding of your game, that the resulting maps, levels, missions or content created by the modding community can take away from the developers own expansions and reduce the opportunity to generate more revenue from future content.
Two of the worlds greatest games were created through modding, Counter-Strike was developed by two guys using the Half-Life engine, the Half-Life engine was heavily borrowed from ID’s Quake engine as well. DotA (Defense of the Ancients), a team based hero strategy game (or now commonly referred to as Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, MOBA for short) has spawned a huge industry with Valve, Blizzard, Riot Games and S2 Games all creating their own takes on the genre, from one time transactions, to microtransactions, to free to play.
Modding is mashup, and I think most of us tend to agree that mashup and remixing is positive for the human culture.
Anyway, what happens when developers decide to embrace modding? Well, you get an extended life cycle for your game firstly if people end up developing mods which people want to play and subsequently purchase your game in order to do so.
This is exactly what has happened with Arma 2, a three year old title created by a Czech developer, Bohemia Interactive. A New Zealand living over there has developed a mod titled DayZ,
A 225 km2 open world post-soviet state and one of the areas hit by a new and presently unknown infection which has wiped out most of the world’s population. You are one of the few who have survived and now you must search this new wasteland in order to fight for your life against what is left of the indigenous population, now infected with the disease.
Go Solo, team up with friends or take on the world as you choose your path in this brutal and chilling landscape using whatever means you stumble upon to survive.
This is your story
That last line in particular is such a great phrase that really does capture the feel of the game, but anyway, I’m not here to talk about the game (which you should check out if you’re a PC gamer). I wanted to simply point out, that when you have a title which is 2-3 years old, and provide modding support, sometimes the rewards can pay off.
It’s certainly no small feat that ArmA 2: Combined Operations is now placed 2nd in the top sellers list on Steam, only behind a game developed with a multi-million budget and marketed around the world and ahead of other popular games of the year such as Portal 2 and Skyrim.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the sales from this modification alone had driven enough sales to rival the games actual release, the excitement and organic user promotion around this game has been stronger than what I saw when it originally released on it’s own.
Developers and publishers take note, some times it pays to keep an open mind and an open gate for future development.