Since budget has been mentioned by the original poster and others...
I've wondered if a shift in the industry towards releasing resources such as models and textures to the public domain after some time could help to moderate game budgets. As it stands, each developer must "reinvent the wheel" for each game, spending large amounts of money to develop graphical assets from scratch, right? And assets simply "go to waste" after use in a single game (or sometimes series) and are not used again? Having a large pool of existing assets might cut development time and budget while shifting the focus to creating a unique visual style, further refining of the models and textures (eventually enriching the community pool), creating additional clothing/armor/whatever, etc.
The concept is similar to resource sharing in some mod communities. Modders who aren't obsessed with "permissions" sometimes release their work as "modding resources". For example, a dress model resource can be retextured by other modders to produce dresses in a variety of different colors and patterns, or the base model can tweaked by other modders to produce similar dresses with different sleeves or other parts. An object like a stove released as a resource can enrich the atmosphere of a plethora of mods.
Perhaps other game assets such as rulesets could be released in this fashion as well, in a manner similar to the Open Game License
. Perhaps even certain code; think Linux and open source.
I'm not sure how this would interact with copyright and intellectual property. Perhaps mundane objects such as dresses, stoves, etc could be shared while objects like unique armors or monsters or other IP-specific items could be withheld from public release, but then what is the criteria that determines what is specific to an IP (as opposed to "just another dress" or "just another dragon")? It would have to be self-determined, I suppose; after all, such a system would be a voluntary sharing of resources in the first place.
Anyway, I haven't given it much thought beyond that, but I find the concept interesting, so I thought I'd share it. Feel free to ignore these ramblings, build on them, or tell me how the idea is utterly impossible/impractical/insane. ;-)