Money, money, money, sigh

I have already posted my thoughts on creators making money from their Dreams creations.

Making things for fun versus profit

I think it is a bad idea. I also think it won’t happen, because it is a minefield of legal issues for Media Molecule, and would seem to be at odds with the ethos of the company. Media Molecule want to make creative games that gives everyone the joy of making games as a hobby. They want to cultivate a community of creative minds that share their work for free. This doesnt sit easily along side a commericalisation of those creations.

However there are noisy people out there who really push this idea that creators should be compensated for their work, and the conversation goes round and around with various ideas of how it could work being bandied about. So lets look at it reasonably shall we.

  1. Your game sucks.
    In Dreams your level may impress people, they may like it, they may play it, they may tell you its the best thing they have seen. They aren’t lying, they genuinely feel those things, but only within the confines of the Dreams platform. If you tried to put out your Dreams level in the Playstation store the reviews would be less than complimentary, because your game lacks complexity, length, and quality. Before you say anything, lets be real – AAA games take on average 18-36 months with a team of 600 people and a budget of $20M. Independent developers take 3-5 years to develop their games at a cost of anywhere from $20,000 to $250,000. Your game took you 3 weeks with just you and you paid $29.99 for Dreams. Your game sucks. It does. Few people will be happy to give you money for it. Thousands of people are happy to take it for free, but then there are very few things in life that people wont have if it is free so…you cant really tell if your game is any good because of high like numbers within Dreams. Believe me when I say your game will be slaughtered by professional reviewers who expect so much more than your little game can give. In Dreams however you can be the best developer making the top flight games. Be a big fish in a small pond.
  2. You dont own the rights to your game
    Everything made in Dreams belongs to Media Molecule and Sony. Here is the User Agreement part where you sign away your rights to everything you make:
    You hereby waive, to the extent permitted by law, all claims, including any moral or patrimonial rights, against SIE and its affiliates or any third party’s use of the User Material. 
    So they could make a game using your characters that you made in Dreams and sell it, and you would have no rights to it at all. Without a claim on your own content you cannot sell it, so a whole new Agreement would have to be written out that would allow you to have a claim on revenue generated from content created on the platform. Not impossible to do, but lawyers are expensive, and this sort of thing takes a long time to iron out. So even if Media Molecule decide to go down this route – if it is even technically possible – it will be a few years in the future, so don’t hold your breath.
  3. Dreams made levels are very limited, because Dreams tools are limited.
    Because your level is sitting inside another game, the memory capacity has to be capped. Your game was built with an artificially low memory limit that is a fraction of that of other games. It also have very limited multiplayer capabilities. You cannot build Fortnite or World of Warcraft in Dreams. Your levels will be small with constant need to swap from level to level to get different scenes in. Yes, the level loading is quite quick, but it is not seamless. You are more likely to make a mini-game then anything that would qualify as a full title. Dreams has limits that you just do not find in other games – such as opacity (you cannot make a solid shape opaque which makes ghosts and holograms an exercise in workarounds).The Dreams logic capabilities are also limited – you cannot create object sets and arrays for example. Then there is the thermometer which further reduces your capabilities to very limited gameplay, visuals and music.
  4. It’s not going to make you rich
    You will be competing with companies with huge budgets, tons more experience, and skill. Your game is not going to stand up all that well in the marketplace, and you will probably have to give it away for free or practically free. You are not going to make money from this. If you do, it is tiny amounts because you will have to share it with Media Molecule and Sony. Its like being one of the millions of creators on YouTube that make zero money from their content. You see the big hitters and believe that could be you, but chances are it really wont be. Let’s imagine you sell your game at $5 a pop. Digital sales generally will generally remove something between 70-95% of the revenue once you have taken away licenses, registration fees, fees for the download, royalties etc. So you could get as little as 25c per download. The average Steam game gets 1,500 downloads. So you could make $375. And that is if your game is popular. Is it really worth it?

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