In the video game industry, the beginning of 2007 was a different universe from 2012. The console business was ascendant, propelled to new, heretofore unknown heights of success thanks to games like Guitar Hero 2, the brand new Nintendo Wii, and the unusual Nintendo DS. Social gaming was World of Warcraft, not FarmVille, and the iPhone had yet to transform the mobile game industry into a potent force. Player communities, user-made content, and microtransactions were the future, it was known, but what shape that future would take, no one knew.
At the Game Developers Conference that year, Media Molecule and Sony’s Little Big Planet looked like the future. It had at all: A familiar game or running and jumping plus a complex tool set that let people build their own worlds to share and play in. It didn’t quite work out that way. When the game finally released in 2008, it was a little too difficult and cumbersome to build and share. Media Molecule addressed these problems in Little Big Planet 2, but by then that future had become the present and its game was a successful experiment rather than a defining moment for the medium.
This week though, more than 5 years on from that spectacular GDC debut, Media Molecule celebrates a new milestone for its Sackboy-starring series. On Sunday night, the 7 millionth level was published in Little Big Planet.
Media Molecule published an impressive chart of the game and community’s progress over the past few years on the road to 7 million levels. In addition to marking the awards received by the game—not to mention those given to users for their contributions—the company included a host of fun facts. For example, it’s used 82,590 Post-It notes during the development process. It also destroyed 150 keyboards and 120 full computers. Also, 100 percent of the Little Big Planet community managers were hired directly from the community itself, and 25 community members were hired by Media Molecule as full-time employees.
What’s most impressive is that the growth of content in Little Big Planet has remained consistent. 1 million of the levels made have been created since just the beginning of this year. Little Big Planet may not have the frothing community that a Call of Duty enjoys, but it is thriving.
What’s next? Little Big Planet for PlayStation Vita, a much needed shot in the arm for Sony’s handheld, is out in September. Little Big Planet Karting will follow on PlayStation 3 in November.