With the rise of interactive media, Bruns, Levy and Von Hippel question, to what extent does produsage exist within a commercial entity? It has been suggested by Bruns, that produsage can be utilised as a low cost business model. In understanding how produsage technologies can be incorporated into a commercial context it is necessary to look at the gaming industry, which was one of the first industries to place emphasis on systematically empowering its customers (Prugl and Schcier 2006, 2). Today the gaming industry has a worldwide sales volume of more than USD 49.1 billion (Bond, 2008), and remains at the forefront of open innovation for user innovation and design (Prugl and Schcier 2006, 3). The player population has been transformed from mere consumers into active, vested participants in the development and evolution of the game. Accordingly, research and development belongs as much to the players as to the developers, since player innovations are incorporated into the next iteration of the product (Herz 2006, 331).
In terms of sustaining a business model, it is important to note that produsage is used to best effect in the research and development industry. Since a company’s competitiveness increasingly depends on its capabilities beyond its internal boundaries, by harnessing the community, gaming companies have loosened the hold of platform manufacturers over game content (Meikle 2006, 322). Not only are consumer innovations drawn from the message boards of websites to identify weaknesses in the game, developers are also changing the dynamics of the game by giving gamers access to functionality. In a professional sense, this has business application, as empirical studies on the sources of innovation have revealed that in the fields of both industrial and consumer goods, users are often the initial developers of products, prototypes and processes which later gain commercial significance (Prugl and Schcier 2006, 3). Common tool kits awarded to consumers, range from level builders (which allow players to create their own game environments) to character-building kits (which enable users to create avatars). An example of this model is the first person shooter game Doom (1993), which was released on the Internet before its commercial debut.
Furthermore, The Sims, illustrates how produsage can produce profits from increased engagement with the game. Before the game was even released, the company released the tools to allow players to create custom objects for the games virtual environment including architecture, props and custom characters. The hype surrounding this release resulted in record sales, with one quarter of a million boxes sold in the first week. One year after the release date of the game, there were already 150 independent content creators, half a million collectors and millions of players reading 200 fan sites in 14 languages (Herz 2006, 335). Accordingly, this represents the completely bottom up process, of open participation with community property that is inherent to produsage. Herz (2006, 330) argues how a comprehensive business model can be built of the back of produsage. He notes that even only if 1 percent of the population contributes to the innovation in the product, (no matter how minor), that translates to 10, 000 (unpaid) people working in research and development (Herz 2006, 331). This represents, the heterarchy within produsage projects that Bruns (2008, 25) describes. Using the tools supplied by the company, customers can take on problem-solving tasks and design products to fit their individual needs. However, with this model it is warned that the challenge lies in the developer’s ability to cultivate this community but not to exploit it. For example, there is current copyright and patenting laws that inhibit the open source sharing of knowledge. An example of this, it the threatened law suit against Second Life.