One of the reasons Unreal Tournament 3 isn't showing up on Xbox 360 this Fall is Microsoft's approach to user generated content. At E3, Microsoft Game Studios head Shane Kim told 1UP that Microsoft wants complete control over what's transferred through Xbox Live, thus preventing Epic Games from allowing PC-created mods (a step further than just levels, as these could be completely new modes or even games) to appear in Unreal Tournament 3. Sony has no such restriction, thus helping its appearance on PlayStation 3.
At Gamefest 2007, however, Microsoft's official line was less clear. To deliver user generated content, developers can take advantage of what's called Xbox Live Silver Platform (XLSP), where the data transferred runs through the publisher's servers, not Microsoft's. Publishers then become responsible for what runs through it, monitoring and policing offensive content, etc. Taking advantage of it, however, requires Microsoft approval.
During a Q&A session on the topic, someone asked Microsoft Software Design Engineer Zsolt Mathe whether this meant a developer could then construct a level editor for use on a PC but created levels playable that were then playable on Xbox 360. "Even though nobody has done that, I would highly recommend that," said Mathe.
During the Gamefest panel, Microsoft was very specific about how publishers would have to keep a keen eye on the content, as it doesn't explicitly pass by Microsoft's eyes. Of course, as we mentioned, taking advantage of XLSP requires Microsoft's approval -- maybe that's the hold up for Epic, considering what Shane Kim told us in May about Microsoft's desire to keep a firm grip on content being exchanged on Xbox Live:
"We have just as much interest in that space as anybody else, but I will tell you that there is a lot of value to managing the service and system the way we do on Xbox Live, versus the wild, open, supposedly open PlayStation Network. You're going to have to be very careful about what happens and we'll see how much responsibility the platform holder actually takes there in terms of managing that stuff.
It's not unlike Sony PlayStation HOME. It's great to talk about all this, but assuming you could even build it, one of the biggest challenges is actually managing the behavior. We have a lot of experience doing this on Xbox Live and that's part of the value proposition we bring to our customers, is that you're going to have a great experience on Xbox Live and we take care of a lot of problems for you and don't just say it's the responsibility of the publisher of the responsibility of the community to manage this. We take accountability, we do that as the owner."
Thanks to 1UP.com for sharing the news with us!