More power for the consumer!



What we have seen over and over again during this semester is how media organizations are quickly starting to involve consumers in the production of their content/product. This trend is easily found in news where “citizen journalists” are becoming more and more popular, in music where bands are promoted by their fans through the use of particular websites and videogames.
The latter is the perfect example of what Deuze explains in his final chapter of “Media Work” regarding convergence culture: “Organizations brace themseves for intra and interinstitutional collaborations and cross-media production, while at the same time cautiously courting the consumer in her role as co-producer of commerically viable and creatively inspiring content and connectivity” (pp. 235-36).
Bioware, a very popular software house owned by EA, is not taking “cautiously” the collaboration with the consumer in its new massive multiplayer game “Star Wars: The Old Republic”. In a market where World Of Warcraft has ruled since 2004, BioWare, is developing its product with the help of millions of beta testers all over the entire world. This is not something new for videogames. Beta testing is something we have seen in the past. However, it has always been just a for selected few, and it has never involved some many people. Next weekend, there is going to be a massive test for everyone who is registered on the “SW:TOR” (this is the code name for the game) website. In the past five months, the game and its content has changed a lot thanks to the huge amount of information gathered by the “future” consumers. They have literally helped create and improve the game in a way that could possibly “kill” the king of this genre, WoW.
BioWare is taking a huge risk by giving basically to everyone the possibility to try out the game for free before the actual release that is going to be on December 20th.
Smart move? Mistake?
What is certain is that BioWare is not “hostile towards exploring ways to share control with members of the audience” (pp. 136).

-Fabio Monticone


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