Contest Immortalizes User Snowboard Designs in Video Game

When you’re planning to launch a video game, it’s important to create buzz. But when it’s still summer and the game being launched in November is about snowboarding, that can be difficult.

In an effort to get people excited about the upcoming Shaun White Snowboarding game — even those whose thoughts are on sun and surf, not snow and mountains — game company Ubisoft Entertainment created an online contest featuring user-generated content.

The company invited people to submit through its Web site proposed designs for snowboards to appear in the new game. The contest was begun in early August and ends Oct. 12. Every two weeks, users vote for the two best snowboard designs.

Ubisoft Associate Director of Brand Marketing Danny Ruiz said the contest has been very popular. “The response has been tremendous,” he said. “I have no hard numbers, but it was well into the hundreds for the first submission.”

Ruiz pointed out that only the designs submitted early on had a chance to be hard-coded into the game. The game designers needed time to incorporate the winning designs into the product, he explained.

However, winners who submitted their creations later in the contest will still be “immortalized in the game” through downloadable content, said Ruiz. “Gamers will hook to the Internet through their consoles and we will distribute free packs that will incorporate the [homemade] board designs,” he said.

The idea to seek user-generated content for a game prior to the game’s launch is a first for Ubisoft, according to Ruiz. On top of that, snowboard maker Burton is planning to create real boards based on winning designs, said Ruiz.

He said he didn’t know if Ubisoft will use similar online efforts in promoting future games. “We’ll look at the interaction rates, the number of impressions the Web site had,” he said, suggesting users might be asked to develop a game character or other element in an upcoming game.

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