Discussion in 'Video Games' started by Arcinferno, Jan 22, 2018.
Lets pretend that its a fundamental truth that linear single-player games won't sell up to desired expectation. Would changing that specific game into a multiplayer shooter similar to the ones people have been citing in the Top 10 best selling games of 2017 make it sell more? Most likely not. Would making it open world make it sell more? Most likely not. If a market is oversaturated then there will always be products that under-perform sales expectations. For every linear single player game that didn't sell up to expectation, there is an open-world or multiplayer game that didn't sell up to expectation.
Setting aside the perceived "small" market of gamers who mostly buy single-player games, there is an opening for linear single-player games to be considered complementary games as they require less time and effort of someone already devoted to their annual shooter, sports game or GAAS title. So now the goal should be to figure out a way to take advantage of this market.
There needs to be a way to get budgets under control and for publishers to accept that every game released is not going to be a homerun when it comes to profit or sales. Small profits build up over time and you have more than you had before.
On a side note I loved Firewatch and preferred it as a game to Dishonored 2 :P
This is a valid topic that keeps coming up, and I do agree with her responses on this, but it's not a "one" or "two" side problem here, there are quite a few things that have led to the decline in linear single player game sales...
It is a fact, that large single player games (or mostly single player), linear or not, do cost any where from around 100 million to produce, to well over 100 million depending on the exact game. So yes, they do cost a ton to make, and at $60 a pop, which is no where near what the actual profit is for the publisher/developer, that is much less, they do have to now have these games sell far more copies just to break even, not to mention make a profit which is what any normal business try to do. So these games are now becoming MUCH bigger gambles for publishers and developers alike. I mean it doesn't take a genius to realize that if you wait a few months you can't get the same game used for $15 or $20 bucks at a lot of places. So even though there might be the same amount of people crying for these games, and still buying them, more seem to be buying them from the used game market which of course does nothing for the publisher/developer.
Then you have the fact that a lot less people are buying these games (at least overall there are exceptions of course), during the normal priced time, than they were in the past. One major reason for this is value... If the single player game cost $60 and it has an 8 or 10 or 12 hour story and then your done. And you have the non linear open world sandbox game or multiplayer game that also costs the same $60, but has 50 ot 100+ hours of gameplay, or is a game as service and might last for years and years and also feature microtransactions and other ways for them to make extra money such as DLC packs etc. You now have the same price point for 2 different types of games, and the gamers nowadays understand that same $60 dollar investment can get them near limitless amounts of gameplay in one type of game, and a very small amount of gameplay and replay in another type of game (single player linear), so gamers are not able to justify paying the same price, but getting far less overall gameplay.
Then you have the fact that a larger portion of gamers nowadays love online multiplayer modes, and simply want games that offer those. You do have some linear single player games like Uncharted 4 offering a decent multiplayer component too, but must don't offer this and that hurts the sales as well.
Over all there is not "one" issue that is causing less linear single player games to be made, it's a whole host of factors that are at play here, as is usually the case with thing's like this. A few ways to possibly fix this and get more people on board would be doing things like adding decent, mulitplayer components to these games to attract a wider audience. Another thing that might work is simply charging less for them, which in the end might actually mean more sales and more profits....But of course that is risky and might blow up in a publishers face and end up costing them a ton of money. But seriously, how many of you would be whilling to buy a bad ass, linear story driven single player AAA game from a well known studio with ZERO multiplayer if the price at launch was suddenly $30 bucks instead of $60? I think that actually would cause a lot more people jump on these types of games, specially if they knew they could pick up 2 amazing, though linear games, for the same price as one non linear game.....
Of course you could also raise the price overall on games as well, which is something I believe needs to happen. Look at movies, the price of tickets has sky rocketed over the last 20 years... The price of blu-rays were much higher than dvd's etc. And people need to remember, as I have seen a lot of these comments here, that the prices of video games have not "remained the same over the last 20 years" they have actually gone down a good bit from where they were 20 years ago... Young kids here don't understand this as they were not alive, but us older gamers have no problem remembering picking up SNES and Genesis titles that were $79 and $89 bucks....Killer Instinct was $79 dollars at the game stores when it dropped for the SNES and that wasn't alone. Obviously a lot of that had to do with the format these games were on, Carts, but that same priced game now would be around $120 or $130 with inflation taking into account. It make's zero sense to have the prices going down, and staying down for all these years since the switch to disc based and digital media when the graphics hardware has gotten to the level where the detail now in games is so high it takes soooooooooooo much longer, and cost sooooooooooo much more to make than it did 10 or 15 years ago. I mean a normal AAA game nowadays cost as much as your average Hollywood action movie. So yes, something, or more accurately, many things do need to change. If we made some changes like the ones I have suggested here, and I am by no means saying that I think all of these would work, but just making some changes along these lines, that would take sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much of the pressure both financially and mentally off the publisher/developer and you would actually see more money being made, more people buying these games, more of these types of games being made again, and more importantly, more publishers/developers taking bigger risks in design again too, which will give us more variety in the AAA market. All huge wins for the industry, gamers, developers publishers alike!
Nioh was more my thing as far as third person action games go. And I'm always a Yakuza guy.
The problem is Skyrim didn't inspire the right things from imitators. Everybody saw Skyrim's breadth of content and theme park-style world and tried to emulate that ,but didn't try to emulate its dynamic systems. Well, Breath of the Wild tried to emulate the spirit of some of those systems while coming up with its own. Minecraft might also be IM-like but I actually haven't played it, and it's like the most popular game in the world right now.
This is also fair.
I know a lot of people are probably throwing their hands in the air right now wondering if everything is an IS, but I think those people /severely/ underestimate the impact of Looking Glass' design ideas on western game development. If you look at almost all games from the FPV today you can almost always trace them back in some way to either Ultima Underworld, System Shock, or DOOM.
*glances at Steam library filled to the gunwhales with linear, single player, story-based games*
I'm not sure I quite agree with the thing about people watching games instead of playing them.
I mean, sure, I've done that plenty of times. For example, I just watched the cutscenes of the last two Starcraft games because I wanted to know what happened, but be damned if I'm paying full price and sitting through that tedious gameplay to find out. Likewise, I bought Valient Hearts: The Great War, quickly got sick of the puzzles and just hopped over to Youtube it. (Although in that case they still got my purchase.)
On the other hand, streamers and Youtubers make for cheap (or even free) advertising. I had barely heard of of Telltale Games until I saw a youtuber's video of the intro of Walking Dead. I promptly ran out and bought it and have gone on to buy a bunch more of their games since then.
I don't have any hard data, but I'd bet that streamers and youtubers are a net positive for sales.
I appreciate 6h AAA games because i can consume them in a weekend. They are laser focused. There is no grinding. And i have actually the time to play them.
I think youtube is no problem. You can't watch films on youtube. Same should be done with videogames.
I think the future of video games is digital only. And there will be a revival of single player focused games because people will not be able to buy them used or cheap.
How did Battleborn and Lawbreakers do recently? Do you think Wolfenstein would sell more if it became primarily a multiplayer shooter? The 2009 game had multiplayer tacked on and sales were very underwhelming. Wolfenstein already has a lower sales ceiling than Call of Duty. Besides that, look at that design of the campaign. Its an ultra-violent campaign based on killing Nazis. There is going to be a ceiling, but there is a market for it. If Wolfenstein became a Call of Duty clone then it probably sell even less. It would also add to development costs and make it necessary to sell even more copies. Oversaturation won't solve anything.
The games we are talking about in this discussion should not be compared to Call of Duty, Battlefield/Battlefront and Destiny (with the lineage of Halo) as those are established brands with established mindshare. I'm also not saying that new potential shooter games should not be developed. Overwatch and PUBG are successful new IPs that have broken through in recent times.
Five of the top 10 selling games in 2017 (including FIFA) come from annualized franchises. The point of my post was that linear single-player games can take advantage of the market and still be successful. I'll end this post with a quote from my last post for clarification purposes.
The only MP title I bought this year was Splatoon 2. All other games (50 or so) were SP. A lot were from steam sales but a dozen plus were full price. Especially vr titles which I spent far too much money on this year. I dont need 100 million dollar games. I enjoy them too but would rather have Nioh, The Surge, Nier, Lone Echo, From Other Suns all day long. Make good titles and i will buy them. Force online and loot boxes and I won't touch them.
Obviously she is able to provide excellent insight and clearly state what we all kinda know: the current or older models are not sustainable and it’s been like this for 5-10 years. The future is bright, but not certain by any means, as this industry continues to evolve.
It is a really great time to be a gamer, so many good choices and games out there and not enough time to get to it all. It may be that the market is too saturated, for that I am not sure. People have changed the way they consume games over the years. It’s not like it used to be... games are far more consumable but that’s not a bad thing necessarily.
And of course put every youtube video down. It is common practise with films. It is intellectual property.
Happy to go back to playing games that look like Mario 64 if costs of making games that look like pixar movies are too prohibitive. In fact, I prefer it.
Sorry, Amy, but the best selling exclusive on the PS4 has a lengthy 20 hour single player campaign (Uncharted 4) and the best selling exclusive on the Switch is a 100 hour long single player RPG (Zelda). So you might just be full of it.
EDIT: TAKE A LOOK A ERA'S TOP 10 GAMES OF THE YEAR. HOW MANY OF THEM ARE ONLINE?!
She's absolutely right. Look at Bethesda's recent games. They're not charting high on the NPDs by any stretch. Wolfenstein is one of the best games of the year, and it didn't sell too well, and Prey had high praise but even had soft sales.
I don't read this as a knock on single player games as a whole.
She and folks like Mat from NPD pretty clearly mean that short, linear single-player only games rarely do well at full price anymore (So, AAA). Which is pretty obvious to anyone paying attention. Games like Zelda, Horizon and AC Origins aren't exactly short, linear games. It's the Wolfensteins, immersive sims and Quantum Breaks that are struggling.
Obviously things are different in the indie space.
I found the Nintendo part interesting. They both seemed envious of Nintendo's position, being neither big nor small development by western standards, but it was left as a curious oddity. (Amy also seemed somewhat envious of Sean). There is, of course, being envious of what someone has by virtue of them being different from you and yet not wanting to be that or have that. They both seem to, in some sense, very much want to be doing what they are doing. But...I do wonder why companies aren't interested in being like Nintendo in the west.
There is so much drive to be as big as you can be when you are big, imo, when you don't really need to be. I think the arms race is, ultimately, a bit of a self-perpetuated farce the industry subjects itself too and a bit of something brought on by audiences. I don't think it is clear-cut either.
They have copycatted every game they have made. (At least starting from Warcraft 1, I don't know their games before that. Hearthstone would be the only exception after that.)
And this is not a criticism because I'm a gigantic Blizzard fan. But I recognize that they copy genres, they just outdo other developers on coding polish, art design, production values. Which I think is great.
Her single player story driven game would sell on the Switch, with all us thirsty gamers.
I'm only 125 hours in on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and on chapter 7.
linear SP games she is talking about.
- story driven
- AAA budget
I don't think it's even arguable that those games are on their deathbed. The market just can't support them anymore.
That does NOT mean SP games are dying. SP games are alive and well. They have adapted and continue to adapt -- for example, by becoming less linear and more open-world, by adding a MP component, by extending the length, by adding GaaS elements, or by developing the game with a AA budget.
It's actually quite rare to get a game matching her description anymore. I can only think of a handful this generation. What she is saying should not be news to anyone following the industry. It's been true for quite a while now. Fortunately, SP gaming is alive and well.
I love SP games, but I think some SP gamers get defensive and reactive about this, rather than thinking it through.
I think there are examples of single player linear games that did great relatively recently, as well as examples of games that didn't do so great. But there are always reasons for both. The market didn't change so much since the first Dishonored in order to make such games non viable, it's just that the sequel got a lot of criticism and had a pretty awful launch, that there was a good game hidden underneath took quite a while to surface. Similarly for Wolfenstein 2, for all its praise there is tons of valid criticism directed towards it even in comparison to the previous games in the series which weren't exactly groundbreaking either, but sold more than enough to greenlight that sequel still. Similarly for Mankind Divided vs Human Revolution, personally I got it and it didn't grab me at all, I won't play it just because theoretically it's what I want when it doesn't do it for me in practice. I mean, you can't expect people to buy just anything because it hits bullet points and then claim those bullet points don't sell, it needs to be en enticing package as a whole, it needs the right marketing and support, etc. Like any other success story. I'd say Prey is the one game that really was shafted and didn't have any major flaws that made it deserve its lack of success, but it barely got any exposure and it was also not the replacement people wanted for a Prey game. I mean, we live in the era where Souls became the massively successful series it is and even spawned successful IP inspired by it like Nioh, where the walking simulator genre flourishes, where indie developers have more exposure and sales than ever primarily with single player linear games (they aren't making crazy big sandbox experiences either with their funds and small teams), etc., how does that show single player linear games aren't viable? Just do it right, on all fronts, and you could catch lightning in a bottle. It's a risk like any game, multiplayer has such competition where you need luck to be successful there too, how many failed mobas and Overwatch-likes etc have we seen? Similarly for sandbox single player games, not all of them get Assassin's Creed/GTAV sales and you certainly can't easily find the funds/teams to work on games like that.
Amy spoke the truth.
Totally offtopic, but I wish I got to play the Uncharted 4 she was working on, the end product we got was completely boring and lame
She's right, I don't buy AAA single players story based games.
And BotW is neither linear or story-based, so I'm not sure exactly how it fits into the discussion.
Uncharted 4 sold that well because except Bloodborne,the system had no exclusive games worth to play back then plus all of those visual Showcases.
She is right. I don't buy story based games anymore unless they are RPGs or Horror Survival. I don't want to pay full price for a game presenting max. 10-15 experience.
Oh, and I'm not giving you a honest answer to your question only to have that turned into another insult.
It's also important that even *if* forum posters etc were honest and put their money where their mouth is regarding expensive linear SP games, we're talking about a vocal minority.
There's probably more posts here discussing the Zero Escape series than in-depth FIFA posts. How can any (big!) business take this as a representative sample of anything?
She’s right and she’s wrong in a way.
I agree with most of her thesis. Some folks would rather watch a Let’s Play than go out and buy a game, but that’s also not limited to solely single player games. Some people will watch someone play multiplayer games because they have no desire to go out and buy it themselves for various reasons (maybe they think they suck at MP, and would rather watch someone more skilled than them play, for example).
I’d argue against people not buying single player games. People are just being more particular about the single player games they buy. I bought The Witcher 3, Nier: Automata, Yakuza series, Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, etc etc, not because they had hours upon hours of gameplay, but because those games looked really good and I was interested in playing them. We’ve reached a point in the gaming industry where people aren’t just buying a game because it has “cinematic experience,” slapped on the box.
People want a bit more substance in their single player games. Uncharted, The Last of Us, Horizon, have strong single player (with UC and TLU also having MP, but I admit to never touching those modes beyond a cursory glance at them), and that’s what gamers with limited budgets are looking for.
As a developer, I understand her perspective and the need to turn a profit so we can keep doin what we do is vital to our industries survival. As a consumer, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles released a year, often within days/weeks of one another.
I just beat The Witcher 3 last year, and that game came out in 2015. My backlog gets larger and larger every month, but during lean months, where I have some extra gaming budget money, it’s like tumbleweeds when it comes to new releases. By the time I get around to picking up the latest game, unless it was a day one title (ie, Horizon), I wait to pick it up, and often sales happen during that time, and price reductions, and I snag it.
My sister-in-law watched a Let’s Play for Horizon and fell in love with the game. When she got a PS4 , she bought the game for it. It’s more about time, budget, and quality when it comes to why consumers aren’t buying games in droves.
Perhaps publishers should be more conscientious about release schedules. When three or four hot games release in a single month, at least two of them are going to suffer in some way. In my dream world, we’d have a balanced release schedule, with blockbuster style games releasing every few months, and smaller titles releasing in between.
If you’re a fan of indie titles like me, that’s another hit to the wallet that I have to factor in. My Vita library is 250 games and then some. My PS4 library is the same. There’s just too much to play, and not enough time and money for it all. It’s not just a lack of consumer interest in single player games. Sometimes the closest you’ll get to experiencing the game is through a Let’s Play, because, like it or not, the average age of gamers is in their 30’s, and they have other things to split their time between than games.
I’ll watch Let’s plays on the commute to work for a game that I’m interested in, but know I’ll neverr get to play it. Then I’ll catch it on sale and buy it, and it goes into the backlog. Don’t use lack of consumer interest as catch all excuse when it’s more complicated than that.
The amount of people who don't know the difference between linear and open world games here is disturbing...
That said I think she's right, hell, look at Bethesda's output recently.
I think its important to note sales do not equate profit.
Some game types take far more investment upfront and have less long term future profitability opportunities.