It's no secret that the industry in recent years has shifted towards multiplayer games, especially multiplayer games crafted in the magical "games as a service" model.
And while both Sony and Nintendo have remained steadfast on single-player games, Microsoft has increasingly focused its attention where just about every other big publisher in the industry is.
Just this year Microsoft has released State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves, both games that fit the games as a service mold, especially the latter. Meanwhile, its three biggest IP at the moment -- Gears of War, Halo, and Forza -- also fit this bill.
In a sea of games chasing the games as a service model, Sony and Nintendo have stuck with their roots in telling rich, single-player stories, and it has paid off for them. But Microsoft has opted to ride the wave, and while it's not lighting the world on fire, there's no doubting it's likely future-proofing.
That said, MCV (via Gearnuke) recently conducted an interview with the Head of Microsoft Studios, Matt Booty, who further echoed Microsoft's opinion on creating big AAA games in alignment with the latest industry trends.
"There will always be single-player games with maybe 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, we love those kinds of games and there’s a place for those, but it’s also certainly the case with the focus on watching, streaming, broadcast and esports that it’s really important to think about the longevity of a game,” said Booty.
"It’s really difficult for anybody to think about making a large scale triple-A game these days without having in mind a content and service plan that goes one to two years into the future out of the gate. Games really have become much more social, much more mainstream, much more widespread. We know that the games industry is growing, and that’s taking nothing away from what you call the ‘single-player, narrative, cinematic game’ but we see a lot of interest from our players in more community-driven ongoing franchises. I think that is in alignment with a lot of the trends we see in gaming overall.”
“With games being as large as they are, with the move to games as an ongoing service…It is difficult to pivot quickly and try to chase after trends that might happen even on the scale of a year. In business terms a year can be a long time, but development time being three to four years these days, that’s the span we need to think about.
“We’ve got to get our strategic long-term bets, our game development cycles and the things our players like to do in sync. And that will set us up for success.”
While the above comments are far from confirmation that Microsoft is kicking single-player games all together -- it certainly isn't -- they do confirm that Xbox is likely to feature more games created in the ongoing services model, which is perhaps to be expected; after all, unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft's gaming origins are rooted in multiplayer experiences.