Sporadic Entertainment

Curiously, the success of both Will and Sid was that, very early on, both relied on user-generated content to make their games more long-lived. I might be wrong, but I can imagine that the first “patches” were deemed somehow “illegal”, but at some point in time, both Maxis and Firaxis (I always wondered why the two rival companies end in axis…) allowed these patches to be distributed. With the advent of the Internet and a much easier way of content sharing, the ability to tweak Civilization or SimCity was crucial to the continuing success of either game platform. The Sims was just taking it to yet another limit.

But in 2005, the stage was set to the next level of “game customisation”. Obviously, Will Wright had seen the success of Second Life, where everything is user-created — and all content comes neatly out of the Internet. With the success of the many official websites for sharing content for The Sims, it was clear that Spore would have to go an extra step: making distribution of content a key feature, but also allowing multiple players to develop content for the “same” game, thus effectively turning Spore into a MMOG. Or, rather, what is now called a Massively Single-Player Game, since players don’t interact directly, but only through their creations.

When in 2005 Second Life® residents heard about Will’s upcoming plans, they predicted the end of Second Life as we knew it by then — Linden Lab might have gotten Maxis’ former marketing manager, but they haven’t got the developer reputation of Maxis or the world distribution & promotion leverage of Electronic Arts. The world would always remember Spore as the ultimate user-generated-content MMOG — Second Life, with its crippled technology, would just get a footnote on the history of 3D multiuser platforms. In fact, even as early as 2005, a few left Second Life because it wasn’t worth spending time creating content for it, when Spore was “just around the corner” (three years, however, is an eternity, and they have long since returned to SL).

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