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The Reason One Of 2020's Best Releases Is Struggling To Stay Alive

Developer Media Molecule made a major stride in the gaming world this year with its official release of Dreams, a creation system exclusive to PlayStation 4 where creators can share their art, music, and even full-fledged video games (both original and pop culture remakes) for other community members to enjoy and play. Since Dreams' early access release in April 2019, the game has won multiple awards, including Gamescon's Most Original Game and MCV/Develop's Gameplay Innovation of the Year. Dreams is home to thousands of user creations, and its reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Despite all of this, Media Molecule's hit title is, unfortunately, struggling to stay alive for one major reason.

As Kotaku reported, the platform is not short on creators but rather players. The work that Dreams creators are putting in isn't getting enough exposure, which has caused an imbalance in the community. There just aren't enough people who simply want to play. In an analysis of Dreams' progress since its official release this year, YouTuber Ugly Sofa Gaming noted that out of more than one million registered users, the platform's active users has steadily decreased to just about 1,000 users online "at any given time."

Plus, as Reddit user pandapeer pointed out, the platform's less serious creations like memes and video game rip-offs get more traction and bigger audiences than higher-effort original content. "Getting exposure on a high effort music track for example, is WAY more difficult than getting exposure on a 'Wario commits tax fraud,' because music pieces simply aren't Dreams," pandapeer wrote.

In that same thread, user flashmedallion suggested that Media Molecule implement a new category in Dreams specifically for that lighthearted meme content. "Maybe even leave it out of the default Trending Feed and give it its own feed on the front page. People who want to browse then can do so, those who don't can avoid them in the regular feed, and [those] who want to take part will have their own category to hang out in," they wrote.

Kotaku spoke with content creator Alexa Wignall, known as LadyLexUK on YouTube, who began tracking and analyzing the number of likes on new Dreams creations since early access. Wignall confirmed that there has been a fall in engagement within the past year, which she believes is a direct result of the lack of people joining Dreams to play original creations. "It's a huge number of creators and a very small number of viewers, and that is why Dreams doesn't really work," Wignall said. "And I'm not really sure there's anything Media Molecule can do about that other than incentivizing people coming in to play these games."