Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 24 Number 2 2007 pp. 195-219

Digital Consumer Networks and Producer--Consumer Collaboration: Innovation and Product Development in the Video Game Industry

Arakji, Reina Y and Lang, Karl R

ABSTRACT: This paper examines new forms of collaboration between producers and consumers that are emerging in the digital entertainment space. Taking the case of the video game industry, we show how some firms have opened a portion of their proprietary content for transformation by consumers and allowed the development of consumer-designed and consumer-implemented derivative products. By reappropriating these derivatives, video game firms are successfully outsourcing parts of their game design and development process to digital consumer networks. Applying economic analysis, we explore the potential benefits and risks associated with outsourcing to networks of consumers. We also derive the optimal combination of copyright enforcement and consumer compensation. Our results suggest that profit-maximizing producers of video games have incentive to partially open game content to their users and to remunerate the most innovative ones, under the condition that the derivatives constitute complements to, and not substitutes for, the original product. We discuss the implications on firm strategy for innovation.

Key words and phrases: digital entertainment, innovation, outsourcing, producer-consumer collaboration, user-generated content, video games