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PlayCrafter launches open alpha

Casual game site to enable users to make money from their creations

PlayCrafter, the online portal that aims to facilitate the easy creation of casual games, has announced that it is entering an open alpha stage of development.

The site, owned by start-up company ZipZapPlay, based in Burlingame, California, will evolve to offer a share of any revenue generated by games created using PlayCrafter, and plans initially to target those people currently playing casual games, but eventually to appeal to Wii or iPhone gamers as well.

"User-generated content in games isn't a new idea," ZipZapPlay CEO Curt Bererton told GamesIndustry.biz. "It's been around since the earliest level editors or (closer to our site) pinball construction set on the Apple II.

"However, there was no easy way to share that content, short of calling a friend over to your house, and more often than not, the editors where clunky and hard to use.

"We believe that user-generated content for gaming is becoming popular now because the Internet has made it so easy to share that content, and editors are slowly becoming easier to use.

"These days, kids having grown up with MySpace and YouTube, they don't even think of it as generating content. To them, it's simply another thing they do, another way to use their creativity. Creating content and sharing it is fairly easy with videos and blogs, but we feel that this trend has only recently caught on for gaming."

PlayCrafter is attempting to address the problem of offering users a comprehensive set of tools, while at the same time keeping the editor accessible, and Bererton believes that the company has found "a good balance".

The company will initially rely on pre-load ad revenue, with functionality to be added later to allow game creators to charge for their products.

"All revenue earned from a game will be shared with its creators," said Bererton. "This opens up the possibility of having an open marketplace where creators can charge each other for quality game pieces and we would take a small cut of every transaction," he added, comparing it to an eBay business model.

The power of user-generated content is a hot topic in the games industry at the moment, with the October launch of LittleBigPlanet - another title which hopes to get gamers creating, and possibly offer revenue-sharing as well.

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