These days, a few publishers are arguing the merits of making single player games. For example, EA recently made the controversial move to change direction on its Star Wars project, shutting down Visceral Games in the process.
But an interesting new argument has arisen as to why single player experiences are so tough to come by these days – they're way more expensive.
Remedy Entertainment has, for the longest time, been known for its single player efforts, including the legendary Alan Wake, the classic Max Payne games and its Xbox One/PC release Quantum Break. But development for the games has not come easy.
Thomas Puha, who serves as the head of communications for the developer, recently spoke to GamesIndustry International about how tough it is to put a single player experience together – and it's a lot costlier than some might think.
He explained, "The reality is the traditional AAA single player experience is just really expensive to make. The expectation level from gamers is really high in terms of how long the game is, what sort of features it has, how good the production values are. All those things are very expensive to do. And if you go back 10 years, you could still say the console market is roughly the same size. In the end, the audience you're selling to is relatively the same size but the cost of making the game is ten-fold these days. So that's an obvious problem."
There's also some strain from a reselling point, as some gamers have been known to purchase the game, play through it, and then get rid of it. This does benefit the publisher at first, but then bites creators in the rear end. Puha noted, "From a creative perspective, even when we made Alan Wake, it was like we spent all this time creating the characters, the universe, the rules and everything. It's a place where you want the player to spend a longer period of time, and that's hard to do in the traditional single-player space."
That's not to say developers are giving up, though. Bethesda has still vowed to stick with single player experiences in the future, and other companies are looking into it as well. But you can bet a lot of them are looking at the bottom line and seeing how effective their products will be in the long run.
As for Remedy, it's hard at work on a new project called P7, which features cooperative and multiplayer elements. We should be hearing more about this game soon.