Future of Music Coalition Policy Intern Cody Duncan describes some recent innovations in video game bundling, and suggests that musicians (and presumably purveyors of other digital content) can learn a thing or two. As a systems geek, I’m particularly impressed by some of the thinking around combining pay-what-you-can with gamification:
Taking a cue from the success of Steam’s bundle sales for independent games, independent game developers David and Jeffrey Rosen of Wolfire Games tried a similar approach, selling games on a pay-what-you-want model…In addition, Wolfire adopted a new and innovative pricing system. Think Radiohead’s In Rainbows, with a dash of gamification and some charitable giving. Basically it works like this: Name your price. If you pay more than the average (which is constantly visible and updating), you receive bonus material, typically another game or two. These schemes seem to mitigate some of the problems artists have faced under a raw pay-what-you-want model, turning a race to the bottom into a race to the top (or at least an average). A portion of each sale goes to one or two charities, and in a move that capitalizes on the gamer demographic, there’s a kind of high score board where those who paid the most are placed on a list of contributors.
This idea takes me back to the Audiences at the Gate guided crowdsourcing concept for grantmaking that Daniel Reid and I co-developed a couple of years ago. That system attempts to use gamification to take the popularity contest element out of crowdfunding and instead turn the focus on to identifying expert curators. Much as the refinement of manufacturing processes played a huge role in the economic advances of the past two centuries, I suspect that many of the innovations of the future will emerge from introducing complexity into, as Cody puts it, the “raw” elements of revolutionary ideas, so as to correct the negative side effects and perverse incentives that may come with them.