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Why consumer is a dirty word

By on September 3, 2010

Welcome to twenty-first century media, where there are no consumers.

To consume implies to use up. To expend. To stop, by the act of consumption, someone else from having the same thing.

CDs are consumables. If I buy one, someone else can’t buy it until the manufacturer presses, packages and distributes it to the retail store. So are books, or copies of Red Dead Redemption from GAME.

iTunes logo

But an iTunes download is not. Nor is a PSN game, or an ebook, or a map pack.

In media, we have no consumers any more. We have users, or experiencers, or customers. We have fans, and players, and gamers.

More importantly than that, every time someone downloads a piece of digital content, they are not consuming it;. Quite the reverse. They are creating a new copy.

Perhaps if we move away from the idea that people “consume” our content – that each time someone experiences our creativity they somehow reduce the sum of our content in the world – we will see the simple truth of twenty-first media.

Our users are not consumers. They are multipliers.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: