User created content is really taking off with this generation of consoles. Little Big Planet and Spore are two high profile recent releases, and both showcase content creation tools as the main selling point of the game. Similar tools are available in Guitar Hero World Tour, though as a nifty bonus rather than the primary emphasis. Thousands of hours have been spent by eager gamers as they create that perfect platforming level, alien race, or rock song. You don't have to look very hard to find some extremely creative content that came from the mind of an average gamer.
I myself have had quite a good time with these games. I spent quite a bit of time playing around with all the different tools in Spore. To me, this was easily the best part of the game. As far as LBP goes, I had an idea to make a little level up with some flash card problems on it, for my first grader to use. I worked on it for hours, literally. When I was done, he blew through it in less than a minute. My limited experience with these tools really makes me appreciate the effort and dedication some of these user content maestros show.
Now, imagine that you have put many, many hours into a level for LittleBigPlanet. You've tweaked it like crazy, getting all the little details just as you want them. You can't wait to show it off to your friends in co-op, and others seem to be enjoying your creation, earning it lots of hearts. One morning, you wake up and discover that your level is gone. Vanished. It simply doesn't exist anymore. Here's just one example, which we covered previously. Bad as this is, even worse is the fact that once one of your levels has been pulled, you lose the ability to upload any new creations. "Play. Create. Share." becomes "Play." While LBP has a surprisingly deep and enjoyable story mode, it's the creation aspects that most players looked forward to. Losing the ability to share your creations robs the player of the most fulfilling aspects of the game.
Sony and MediaMolecule are hardly alone on this. Activision has been pulling user created content too. Upon Guitar Hero World Tour's launch, almost immediately, folks started creating and sharing their music. If you had browsed the most popular songs on GHTunes that first week, you would have seen some familiar faces. Songs based on the tunes from the Zelda and Mario series, for example, even a Halo inspired track. These were not to last long, and were pulled from GHTunes soon after, as we told you here.
However, the developments regarding user created content get even worse. Activision, you'll recall, made public its stance on user created content from GH WT. They consider it a subscription opportunity.
"You also authorise us [Sony] and our affiliated companies, without payment to you, to license, sell and otherwise commercially exploit your User Material."
Not only are these companies pulling the content that players have created, they want to actually make money off of that content!