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Can Project CARS solve the growing disparity between consumer and producer?

Discussion in 'Project CARS' started by Brandon Warren, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. Brandon Warren

    Brandon Warren

    In recent years, the gaming community has been taking a hit in their ability to produce and implement community-based mods. Games that were once a haven for mod development and community generated game play, have slowly been replaced by a business model that includes characteristics such as premium downloadable content (DLC), digital rights management (DRM), and the limiting of server control and sources.

    This is a business model that primarily benefits mainstream publishers who have to answer to the pressures of their investors, while causing dismay for both gamer and development team alike. It does not benefit the consumer and only serves to restrict the creative talents of the community formed around a particular game.
    Many publishers have justified their position as one that is necessary in order to bring a better quality-controlled experience to the consumer. It is a well known fact that they have to meet the needs of their investors through the generation of profit. One may argue that quality and profit go hand in hand via competition, but this can prove to be a fallacious assumption. Many development teams have often had to succumb to the pressures of the publisher/investor and in turn release their product at a very early stage. The prematurely released product has often been the bane and destruction of development teams. While this establishment of the status quo may not be new to other industries, it certainly is a recent phenomenon to the gaming community.

    This begs the following question; What can be done to bring competition to this model and satisfy both the interests of consumers and development teams alike? It is no secret that the genre of sim racing is grounded in community-based development. This is apparent through the success of mods, hardware modifications, and a subculture that has generated an array of independent businesses.

    So it is only appropriate that Slightly Mad Studios, the developers of the Need for Speed: Shift series, have looked to the community itself to drive the ideas and investment behind their sim racing project assigned the acronym “C.A.R.S” or Community Assisted Racing Sim. C.A.R.S will allow the sim racing community to have influence on the development of the game by assigning them a multifaceted role of developer, tester, and investor. Slightly Mad Studios is doing this via the innovative concept of crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing is a form of community-based design that relies on outsourcing tasks to a wider and more diverse population. This allows direct involvement and feedback from the community itself while satisfying the interests of the developer. Essentially, it creates a more personable and harmonious link between consumer and developer. As mentioned above, the growing problem in the gaming industry is that the investors involved have no interest in the quality of the game itself in so much as the type of profit the game can generate. This in turn causes developers to release their game prematurely, at the expense of the consumer. Crowd sourcing allows Slightly Mad Studios to eliminate this roadblock by allowing the consumer to become directly involved through consumer generated investment.

    The website gamesindustry.biz published this article giving further detail:

    Slightly Mad crowdsourcing new tech platform and games

    Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios is embarking on an ambitious project to create technology and video games via crowdsourcing. The community assisted and crowdfunded technology will be released to subscribers who can then work alongside the studio itself, develop games from scratch and be financially rewarded once the titles are live.The first project is racing game C.A.R.S. but Slightly Mad hopes the project - dubbed World of Mass Development - will be used for future first-person shooter, adventure and role-playing games.The community will also be able to play the game as it's being built, from the first track and cars up until the final build.Slightly Mad will take 30 per cent of profits with the remainder divided up amongst the community based on the amount of shares in a game they own.

    Slightly Mad is targeting individuals and fans with shares in the games priced a $5 and $10, $250 options for groups, $1000 for small businesses and large companies and investors can get involved with contributions of $100,000. Longer-term, subscribers can also benefit when PC games are ported to other formats.Based on a two year development cycle at a cost of $5 million, Slightly Mad estimates that a $10 share will return $35 if the game hits a $25 million profit, or 657,000 traditional retail sales. A $250 share will return $875 and a $100,000 share $350,000.Slightly Mad is targeting three million sales of C.A.R.S., a 90 per cent Metacritic and a profit of $52 million. The free-to-play game will include microtransactions priced from 10 cents to $10 and the company has already licensed a number of tracks and manufacturers.

    The World of Mass Development service will also be offered to other developers, who can use it to pitch ideas to the community, fund and promote their own games."Traditional development puts developers at the mercy of publishers," said Slightly Mad. "Although it supplies the necessary funds to develop games with proper QA testing and development cycles, it also makes the development cycle subject to business matters such as financial quarters, company profits and marketing budgets."The development process offered by WMD shifts the focus back to creating great games that your target audience wants to play, whilst still offering the chance to get proper funding for development and testing." Crowdsourcing games is becoming an increasingly viable method of raising cash for development through sites such as kickstarter.com. London studio Six to Start recently pitched to raise $12,500 for its game Zombies, Run! with the idea proving so popular is has already raised $45,000.

    Trusting development and technological innovation towards the gaming community is an idea that is very promising, yet risky at the same time. Slightly Mad Studios might feel safer due to the recent news that gamers solved a 15 year long molecular puzzle dealing with the AIDS virus.

    This puzzle, which was distributed by the University of Washington via the game Foldit, was solved by gamers in an astonishing 10 days. What makes this more astonishing is the fact that many of these gamers had no formal background in biochemistry. This should prove to be quite an encouragement to Slightly Mad Studios, who have the unique chance of solving the longstanding problem of disparity between investor, publisher, developer, and consumer alike.

    C.A.R.S may very well prove to be the spearhead towards an evolution in community-based gaming. What do you think? Is Slightly Mad on to something here? Do you think this will hurt or benefit the industry as a whole? Do you think this will be an evolution for the modding community? Sound off your opinions and more in the comments below or in the dedicated C.A.R.S. thread on the forums.


    "Slightly Mad crowdsourcing new tech platform and games" via gamesindustry.biz"

    Gamers solve AIDS puzzle" via Wall Street Journal

    Photo from C.A.R.S development team Slightly Mad Studios
  2. Chris Butcher

    Chris Butcher
    Red Bull Gridsters 2012 Champion

    Brilliant first article Brandon. Really interesting read. Let's hope C.A.R.S gives other developers the head's up :)
  3. RaceDepartment

    Administrator Staff

    Read the full article on our frontpage by clicking here
  4. Brandon Warren

    Brandon Warren

    Thank you Chris. I was a bit nervous going into it and a bit dismayed so many sites had posted up the news but they just offered no analysis or feedback. So i just went with it. Thank you for the positive feedback. Hopefully i can hit the ground running from here on out!
  5. Brian Duddy

    Brian Duddy

    If SMS seems like they have their act together, this is definitely something I'll be interested in. Hopefully, this can be a path in the future for eliminating the long-standing problem of racing sims (and several other genres) that publishers don't want to bankroll games because they don't see a large audience.
  6. Brian Clancy

    Brian Clancy

    Great read, thank you Brandon :)I think a number of 'studios' will be looking at how this turns out for SMS.....Interesting times :)
  7. Ryan Callan

    Ryan Callan

    Good read, thanks Brandon
  8. Tim Ling

    Tim Ling
    It's a million-to-1 chance, but it just might work

    Nice read Brandon, quite thought provoking.I'm guessing we're all hoping that C.A.R.S will be a big success. Certainly some of the modding teams out there are good enough to make a big contribution to the game. The many mods and cars across the sims we play shows that. Good luck to SM Studios!
  9. Unregistered


    My god that render makes me think of the old West Brothers and their Racing Legends vaperware...
  10. Jack Wall

    Jack Wall

    Same here, great intro ... hope to hear/read more
  11. It will make me buy the games if this is true otherwise i will go back to thepiratebay and play for free.

    Most games i bought in the past 9/10 are ****. Waste of my money forcing me to go torrenting instead.

    If this news is real and true then i will go back to buying games again.
  12. Nippon2


    How can people actually believe this :) CARS sounds like a fairy tail where everything is just too perfect.

    Next big scam in simracing I fear

    @ poster above me: shame on you pirate. You can like or dislike a game but that doesn't give you the right to rip it for free.