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GDC Paris: Good games don't need big teams, says Media Molecule

LittleBigPlanet keynote talks team sizes, and the possibility of consumers earning money with user-gen content

It's easily possible to make great, fresh and successful videogame experiences without having to rely on huge teams, according to Mark Healey, co-founder of the LittleBigPlanet developer, Media Molecule.

In a keynote presentation at GDC Paris, Healey and colleague Alex Evans took the audience through some of the concepts that they're building their PlayStation 3 title on, and pointed to a number of games that have made an impact in recent times, without the need for teams of 200 plus people.

"One of the interesting things about the titles shown here is that the team sizes vary quite a lot," said Healey. "I think there's a misconception in the games industry at the moment that you need 200 people to make a game now because technology is so amazing.

"But actually, some of the recent very successful games had teams of about four or five people - for example, Brain Training."

And Evans added: "I believe that was a very small, focused team. And when you go through the breadth of our industry, it's really staggering that you have casual games, role-playing games, you have MMOs, you have educational games, puzzle games, social games - the breadth is completely insane, and that's just a huge inspiration for us."

The pair also speculated as to how user-generated content could help to make games more profitable in the long term, and Evans particularly raised the question of whether or not games should be kept under wraps for so long before the big reveal.

"There's still this hanging question over all of us in the industry, of how do we make games more profitable? Do we try and ship fat games every four years, or do we try and slow them down and release?

"I haven't got an answer to that, but I'm hoping that user-generated content and a willingness to release early and often, combined with people accepting change, accepting patches - and not just as a bug thing - that would be a really interesting model for the industry moving forward."

On the question of pricing for LittleBigPlanet content, Evans refused to be drawn, and merely pointed to the fact that there are several options moving forwards - although Healey did stress that server access would be free.

And when asked if consumers would be able to sell LittleBigPlanet content that they had made themselves, Healey clamped his hand over Evans' mouth, and simply said: "That's a fantastic idea…"

LittleBigPlanet is set for release in October for the PlayStation 3. GDC Paris continues today and tomorrow.

The first part of an in-depth interview with Alex Evans can be found here, with part two to follow later this week.

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