LittleBigPlanet is generally viewed as the watershed moment for user-created content in console games. It's true that the game invites and champions it, and has a flexible environment for its creation.
But it's not the only example, and it's sure to be far from the final one. Heck, Microsoft's XNA Community Games experiment, while flooding its Xbox 360 channel with games that are difficult to sort through at times, at least shows the potential of handing console game creation over to high-level hobbyists -- another win for UCC.
And for conventional retail games, as professional creation of content gets ever more expensive, as the economy worsens, as the YouTube generation comes of age, the need to extend the lifespan and interest of titles continues to grow -- for retention and acquisition reasons.
Can there be any doubt that user-created content will become bigger and bigger? With the advent of the form -- big on PCs in one way and another for years -- on consoles in a truly user-friendly, 21st century way, it's going to drive the direction of the medium as much as any other recent innovation.
The murky division between indie and pro developers is getting, well, murkier. The creativity of indie developers has been recognized for years, but the proliferation of premium download services has made creating these games more financially viable and appealing.
In fact, it's got to the point that the stars shine bright enough to be pulled into the studio system. For example, consider thatgamecompany, developers of flOw and Flower, who signed a three-game-deal with Sony.
Mommy's Best Games' Weapon of Choice
But developers can go the other direction, too. Insomniac Games' coder Nathan Fouts decided he wanted out of the LA area and ended up creating Weapon of Choice, one of the most acclaimed games in the Xbox Live Community Games marketplace, self-publishing without Microsoft's assistance.
In another example, Torpex Games, developer of Schizoid, was founded by two alumni of Activision's Treyarch studio who decided that striking out as indie developers was more appealing than working on more Spider-Man sequels.
The success of games like Braid and Castle Crashers proves the commercial viability of the proposition; the flexibility of working from where you want to, how you want to, as Fouts did, proves the creative appeal.