Amy Hennig is a writer who knows all about creating a memorable single player game experience. She helped craft Naughty Dog’s super-successful Uncharted series before departing after the release of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, in favor of working on a new Star Wars project alongside the developers at Visceral Games (Dead Space). But then that project abruptly shut down, with the studio closing its doors and Electronic Arts shifting it into a new multiplayer-oriented direction.
Since then, Hennig has been opening up about her work, speaking with Campo Santo founder Sean Vanaman over at Polygon, and she expressed some doubt regarding if players want single player experiences anymore.
Sure, there are still quite a few rewarding ones, like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey among others, but doubts still remain. “I think we’re in an inflection point right now,” she said. “Obviously what happened with our Star Wars project didn’t come out of the blue. A lot of too-dramatic articles were written about it — the death of linear story games and all that kind of stuff — but look, there is a real problem: this line we’ve been running up to for a lot of years, which is the rising cost of development, and the desires, or the demands even, of players in terms of hours of gameplay, fidelity, production values, additional modes, all these things. Those pressures end up very real internally. If it costs you, say, $100 million or more to make a game, how are you making that money back, and making a profit?
“And the $60 price point can’t change, right? There’s a lot of negative press around monetization, loot boxes, games as a service, etc., but these things are trending now in the industry, especially for larger publishers, as an answer to the problem of rising development costs. Budgets keep going up, the bar keeps getting raised, and it starts making less and less sense to make these games.
“There is also this trend now that, as much as people protest and say, ‘Why are you canceling a linear, story-based game? This is the kind of game we want,’ people aren’t necessarily buying them. They’re watching somebody else play them online.”
She does have a point when it comes to interest in single player experiences, even though some of them are doing okay as far as financials are concerned. But this is definitely a trend that a lot of publishers are looking into – and wondering if they’ll continue. Fingers crossed that they do.