Game Modding offers ‘huge financial opportunities’ for studios in 2022

Mods and User Generated Content (UGC) are so intrinsic to the evolution of the gaming market that studios that overlook their potential are missing out on huge revenue streams — revenue that can help keep their games relevant and popular long after they’re released.

That is the view of Scott Reismanis, who has been at the heart of the modding community for two decades through his creation of ModDB.com and mod.io. After a blockbuster in 2021, he makes bold predictions for the industry that was valued at about $198.4 billion late last year, a staggering 36% above the $138 billion forecast by Statista in 2018.

Reismanis and mod.io predict that by 2025, $1 in every $10 spent on video games will be spent on UGC — a 400% increase in estimated spending by 2021, meaning user content could be responsible for globally by 2025. as much as $25 billion.

After launching ModDB.com to bring together key players and budding developers in a rapidly emerging PC game modding community in 2002, Reismanis realized the potential for user-generated content as a service for studios and publishers with the creation of mod. .io in 2017. By 2022, mod.io will be live in over 100+ games on PC, console and mobile, supporting over 220 million mod installs per year.

“UGC gives players both control and opportunities; naturally, [it’s] a game version that is more dynamic and engaging than a game without creative possibilities,” he says. “When a feature like this thrives, especially one that opens up limitless possibilities from both the studio team and those playing it, entirely new worlds and gameplay mechanics begin to emerge, opening the door to new ways for studios to engage with fans.” to come.”

2021 and the rise of UGC

According to Reismanis, 2021 was a watershed moment for modding, with numerous headline moments to show the impact of the growth:

  • Roblox (RBLX) rose to a market cap of $38 billion after its stock market debut in March 2021, making it the first UGC experience to do so and immediately becoming one of the largest public companies in gaming;
  • Fully Accurate Battle Simulator TABS) became Steam’s highest-rated game of 2021 (with an “overwhelmingly positive” 98% average review score) – the game powered by unit, faction, campaign, and combat crafting tools available to modders, as well as a deep sandbox mode;
  • “Ultimate Skateboarding Game” Skater XL saw an explosion in modding, with downloads increasing by 1,000% due to the release of mods on console platforms, enjoying a million downloads within the first 24 hours of launch, and 100,000 creators on their Discord and other social platforms;
  • The Brilliant Stardew Valleywhich is over six years old and has shifted over 15 million copies, continued to grow and potentially future-proof its simple yet attractive format by making mods more accessible for creators and players, respectively, to build and integrate;
  • Deep Rock Galactic gained more than five million mod downloads since the official launch of mod support in July 2021, in a move that supports creativity without affecting the progression mode the game offers; and
  • Forza Horizon 5 launched with Event Lab, which rewards players for good UGC with a Kudos system, and showcases the best creations in Festival playlists.

What will the modding community bring in 2022?

Despite the modding community being surprisingly unpredictable, Reismanis has three key predictions for where the industry will go over the next eight months and beyond, ahead of the growth, development and evolution of roles for modders and studios worldwide.

A shift from developers to makers

“There will probably be a shift from indie game developers to mod makers,” Reismanis says. “As studios unlock financial rewards, it becomes more attractive to create within a game, rather than create a game from scratch, with the added opportunity to develop something exciting for a large, pre-existing fan base rather than targeting a new audience. find.”

Indie developers, he says, will move towards mod-friendly games that give people opportunities to produce valuable content in a way that works for both parties — something that was demonstrated in part by Roblox

“The ability to get paid for what you earn is no longer a breath of fresh air,” he adds. “However, where this cascade of creators will differ is in the accessibility of mods, varying in size, shape and complexity; mods put no limits on what can be made.”

Micromods like mushrooms from the ground

The ability to create “micro-mods” — easier remixes of existing content — will allow more players to participate in content creation, Reismanis believes. This will allow gamers to become a bigger part of the gameplay experience, perhaps in an unwitting sense, shaping the scene in much the same way TikTok users have done for the video platform.

He continues: “This can already be seen in games like TABSwhere mods allow players to mix and match player-created units and create brand new battles, or add a unit to an existing mix that can fight an all-new war.

“Minor remixes of game elements can even allow players to go viral and share their experiences with other members of the community.”

Worlds within worlds

Finally, Reismanis predicts that as mods begin to grow within games – and new mods are based on the ones that preceded them – “mini-metaverses” will begin to form.

“When building their games, studios will focus on developing strengths within a genre, as opposed to building a sandbox that offers everything for everyone,” he concludes. “As sandboxes open up creativity, genre-defined games will provide cross-fertilization between games, allowing mods to flourish, be creative and offer potentially limitless ideas.”

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