There's no doubt that Media Molecule detonated a user-generated A-bomb with its adorable PlayStation 3 platformer LittleBigPlanet. And while the majority of user-created levels aren't masterpieces of game design, there have been some outstanding offerings that truly show off the tremendous creative potential housed within the game's level editor. As such, it's pretty obvious that Media Molecule has its eye on a sequel, but the company has been consistent in saying that it's in no rush to start development, and for now, its primary focus is LBP.
However, as MMs co-founder Alex Evans recently told GamesIndustry.biz, he and his team are very much looking ahead to the future of the LBP franchise, especially when it comes to digital distribution and the various options it offers.
"If you look at online distribution for LBP, when the sequel comes along, what do we do with all that content? I think we can give consumers lots of stuff that you couldn't in a traditional game. We can give them backwards compatibility with those levels, and then when you decide on how you're going to sell that to them... all I'm saying is that we've got loads of options open to us, and we can pick really late."
This model sounds similar to the one Harmonix used for Rock Band 2, by letting players transfer songs from the first game into the new one for a small fee. Although, I could see people being a bit miffed at the thought of having to pay for levels that LBP owners can access for free, despite the fact that a solid chunk of the levels just aren't very good.
Evans goes on to say MM is also considering a subscription-based service, and since, as Evans points out, there have been over 2 million levels published so far, this model would certainly be the obvious way to save players a little cash. (Of course, if MM ends up charging for access to specific user-generated levels, some amateur level designers could start screaming that MM is profiting off of their creative work without providing proper compensation. However, MM has legal protections against such accusations, but it's easy to imagine some players being upset about it.)
Whatever Media Molecule decides to do, I'm sure it will be worth keeping an eye on, especially if it finds out a way to add PS3 cross-platform support for its upcoming PSP version of LBP. I have no idea what that would look like, but it sounds like an awesome idea.
Would you be willing to pay for old user-created LittleBigPlanet levels, assuming they are worth your money in the first place?