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Amy Hennig: People ask for linear Story-Based Games but aren’t necessarily buying them

Oct 27, 2017
6,387
#51
Is what Ninja Theory was able to do with Hellblade a counter-point to this that isn't just talk? I mean, a 30-dollar price-point for a SP only, linear but AA quality experience for a budget of half the low-end AAA cost. It was well-received critically and (I think) commercially has earned everything back and is now bringing in reasonable profit for NT.

It's just a data point, but I feel like it's a pretty big one. The AAA SP game may be in danger, but is the AA and A market getting underexposed by big companies?
A big company couldn't stay in business like that unless they radically downsized and restructured around that business model.
 
Oct 29, 2017
246
#52
Is what Ninja Theory was able to do with Hellblade a counter-point to this that isn't just talk? I mean, a 30-dollar price-point for a SP only, linear but AA quality experience for a budget of half the low-end AAA cost. It was well-received critically and (I think) commercially has earned everything back and is now bringing in reasonable profit for NT.

It's just a data point, but I feel like it's a pretty big one. The AAA SP game may be in danger, but is the AA and A market getting underexposed by big companies?
Something like Hellblade isn't gonna turn as much profit as COD or PUBG. So it's not really what the big publishers want.
 
Oct 26, 2017
988
#53
I don't understand why we can't increase the price of games? Some budget games can be cheaper, normal games $60 and your big budget games say $80-90.

I'd take that over losing single player games with high production costs.

Or, you know.... don't devalue your game so much. Nintendo knows what is up by barley ever discounting stuff.
No way a general consumer would buy an $80 linear game when there are several games below $60.
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,485
#55
She's kinda right. Look at Bethesda's recent underwhelming sales. That's not to say that those who are clamoring for more SO games aren't buying them, it's just that, unfortunately, they're the vocal minority that only appear larger due to online forums.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,872
Appalachia
#56
I gotta say I'm glad a lot of big industry people are being more transparent about the money side of all this. Consumers need to know the costs and risks involved in making these games, and they need to realize how much their demands and "I'll get it on sale/watch a stream of it" habits have helped get us here.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,979
#57
She's right, I don't know why people are disagreeing with her. Story based games aren't doing it anymore for these huge AAA companies. People can blame whatever they want, it's true that mainstream audiences are buying GaaS now as they feel a single player story based game isn't worth 60$ anymore because of how fast prices drop (this is simply stupid, honestly).
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,660
#59
Yeah, the success of games like freaking Nier Automata of all things shows that there is a way.
That game isn't actually linear.

Even on Square Enix's own website they bill it as an open world game: https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/435171/nier-automata-black-box-edition-ps4
  • Beautifully Desolate Open-World – The game seamlessly joins together hauntingly beautiful vistas and locations with no area loading. The environments are rendered in 60fps and contain a wealth of sub-events in addition to the main storyline.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,559
#60
Already a thread, but that's no excuse. Look at Hellblade for an example how to not burn through millions of unnecessary dollars and make money. And the game isn't even $60.
You can't make larger-than-life set-pieces and complex mechanical gameplay with detailed photorealism through lint. The story driven experience that most clamor for can't just have good-enough systems, scant playabaility, and is the size of a microscope.

Devs really should be taught on what Ninja Theory was able to pull off but it may not be enough from what expects the average taste to be from this particular gameplay philosophy.

I must be out of touch, but are there really that many people who prefer watching somebody play through a whole game on Twitch/YouTube, rather than actually play the game and experience it their self?
Yes.

I sometimes think watching games is going to be the Next Big Thing despite consoles selling faster then ever.
 

Redcrayon

Zoinks!
Moderator
Oct 27, 2017
5,058
UK
#62
The idea that a game is only worth full price at release works against single player games too. Multiplayer and GAAS service titles get multiple bites of the cherry as it’s possible to offer incentives for new players to join in months or even years later, and then gain that revenue digitally without relying on the shelf space of physical retailers or visibility on an ever-more-crowded digital storefront that can barely promote what came out last month, let alone six months ago. With single player AAA titles, millions of copies get printed because only the first couple of weeks after launch matter, and then the remainder get heavily discounted a few months later to make room on the shelves for the new hotness. When you are spending five years making a game that only has a two week window to sell, no wonder they’ve looked at ways to expand that window that don’t rely on third parties. Meanwhile, that ‘pre-order! Anything after day one doesn’t matter!’ approach exactly doesn’t do retailers any favours either.

I realise this is pedantic, I only really play single player, ‘story-driven’ games, but I don’t really find games that have to squeeze a story in between a hundred shootouts because it’s a shooter first to be particularly ‘story driven’. It’s clearly gunfight (or sword-fight) driven with the mechanics largely based around combat and the story just an excuse to move to the next arena.
 
Last edited:

Fahzzy

Self-Requested Ban
Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,079
#63
Dunno why people are dog piling OP about the Title. Her name is in the OP lol.

Anyways, it's really sad to hear this, but I'm glad she's transparent about it. I'd be totally willing to pay $80 for a really good, high production, Dark Souls or linear story game like classic Halo/Half Life. Heck, I'd pay 100.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,730
#65
I love my single player games and I'm very surprised by how people prefer to watch them. I personally can't stand watching someone else playing a game, I need to experience it for myself.

As for rising Video Game costs, I understand that the dev costs are higher than ever before, but I worry for the effect raising the price in the US would have on other countries. Here in Australia I already regularly pay $100 for a video game at launch, and up to $130-160 for a deluxe edition. New Zealand is worse. If they raise the prices here even more I feel like I won't be able to play as many single player games as I would like.
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,879
Mt. Whatever
#66
NieR Automata, Persona 5, say hello. Commercial and critical success, heavily dependent on story not budget.

And I mean hey, I bought Hellblade twice, despite only being a 4 hour platinum. Game length means nothing to me if the story is great. Bring on more titles like that and Edith finch, I'm sure they're not raking in the dough, but they're definitely sustainable. :)
 
Oct 25, 2017
989
#67
Look at how much time Ninja Theory needed to just break even and look at their experiences and the actual quality of the game.

Why would a studio want to risk that? I personally only play SP games (except sports games and Nintendo games) but if I’m running a business, I would choose the option most likely to ensure the viability of the studio. Right now SP games aren’t cutting it.
Isn't the problem that studios doing big AAA SP games are already at risk? Hellblade was an attempt to minimize their risk: they had a far lower budget than what is probably seen on an average AAA game, were laser focused on what they were going to deliver (and the scope of that) and people responded generally pretty well to the price. It may have taken some time for them to break even, but they are now making a profit and have been confident in using their experience as an example for how to actually get great games done on a budget and pass the value to the customer.

As for the quality of the game, it was one of my favorite games of last year, and was an outstanding achievement in audio and performance, while making the best possible imitation of a AAA game's visuals thanks to UE4 being a beast of an engine.

I guess what I am arguing is that these studios are biting off huge chunks, going all in on big AAA SP campaign games, and they *might* do better to produce (many) smaller games. If one fails, it doesn't topple everything and cause a huge rent in their production pipeline. I would personally rather see a move to this than getting AAA SP games with MTX everywhere to support their game or a throwaway MP mode, but the long and short of it is that any creative endeavor is risky, and *any* big budget game can take a dive nomatter what kind of game it is.
 

ElephantShell

10,000,000
Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,824
#68
I don't understand why we can't increase the price of games? Some budget games can be cheaper, normal games $60 and your big budget games say $80-90.

I'd take that over losing single player games with high production costs.

Or, you know.... don't devalue your game so much. Nintendo knows what is up by barley ever discounting stuff.
Nooo games are already $80 in Canada I don't wanna pay $100 for Uncharted 5 don't do this to me
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,701
Indonesia
#69
Of course people don't understand the difference between 'Non-Linear Single Player Games' and 'Linear Single Player Games'.

There's always drive-by posts by those people and it gets tiring.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,144
#70
I really want some one to do a study on the effects on Let's Play on story-driven AAA games. Are Let's Play actually increasing (from exposure) or decreasing the sale (from people watching instead of playing)
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,324
#71
People rather watching those games than playing them themselves is the fault of the modern story focused action game. They put the gameplay so much to the back of the experience that people stopped caring about playing them. They just feel halfassed and people rather spend their active time with online games. That wasn't the main reason people gravitated to online games but that was the watch/play differentiator.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,387
#73
She's right, I don't know why people are disagreeing with her. Story based games aren't doing it anymore for these huge AAA companies. People can blame whatever they want, it's true that mainstream audiences are buying GaaS now as they feel a single player story based game isn't worth 60$ anymore because of how fast prices drop (this is simply stupid, honestly).
This, not to mention consumer's can get good value of solid story driven game experiences playing indies like Firewatch, Oxenfree or games made by Telltale or Life is Strange, etc...for often a 3rd of the price of a Triple AAA game.
 

Fahzzy

Self-Requested Ban
Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,079
#74
I really want some one to do a study on the effects on Let's Play on story-driven AAA games. Are Let's Play actually increasing (from exposure) or decreasing the sale (from people watching instead of playing)
Completely agree. This is super important data, but I don't think there's a way way too quantify it accurately.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,697
#75
I think her logic is flawed.

Look at the sales of Zelda, Mario, Horizon, Nier Automata and others.

Then look at the sales of LawBreakers, Battleborn, Drawn To Death etc.

I think people obviously want single player games, and are happy to spend $60 on them, they just have to offer something interesting and unique, and have to be produced on a realistic budget.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,949
Japan
#76
Wow what an age we live in. It's true, we just watch others play them but isn't that what Indies were meant for? Smaller projects that focused on either a niche market or used less money?

Hellblade is a good example of this.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,302
canada
#77
That game isn't actually linear.

Even on Square Enix's own website they bill it as an open world game: https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/435171/nier-automata-black-box-edition-ps4
Nier is a success because its development cost were much lower than for Western games and thus needed much lower sales to be a success.

And it's not linear either.
Of course people don't understand the difference between 'Non-Linear Single Player Games' and 'Linear Single Player Games'.

There's always drive-by posts by those people and it gets tiring.
Ah yeah i conflated all single player games together. My B

Tho other games like P5 or Nioh would fit wouldnt they?

I feel good games still sell but there is a lot of money in MP titles.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,355
#78
I think her logic is flawed.

Look at the sales of Zelda, Mario, Horizon, Nier Automata and others.

Then look at the sales of LawBreakers, Battleborn, Drawn To Death etc.

I think people obviously want single player games, and are happy to spend $60 on them, they just have to offer something interesting and unique, and have to be produced on a realistic budget.
None of those games are linear, those are the types of games she's talking about...
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,326
#79
Not gonna lie if its a short based story game nowadays i won't buy it i will just rent it

And if i do buy it i sell it straight away
 
Nov 4, 2017
589
Taiwn
#80
I am not being bitter(well, maybe a little). But I expect all these people agreeing with her will defend Phil Spencer or Booty next time when they say single player games are hard to invest.
 
Nov 14, 2017
6,695
#81
This essentially echoes what Phil Spencer has said about GaaS, as much as people don't like it they are largely going to be the way forward unless the price of games dramatically rise with inflation. We've been paying roughly the same price for games for over 20 years. The reality is through inflation games should be $90 right now yet they're still stuck in the $50-$60 range.

To avoid a service based future they have to increase cost, and people need to not bitch about it and actually pay it. The cost of everything else around us has increased, why not games?
Because $60 is expensive as its for games, why no raise the cost of consoles too? A couple hundred of dollars is nothing right surely it won't affect potential buyers they will understand
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,387
#83
Isn't the problem that studios doing big AAA SP games are already at risk? Hellblade was an attempt to minimize their risk: they had a far lower budget than what is probably seen on an average AAA game, were laser focused on what they were going to deliver (and the scope of that) and people responded generally pretty well to the price. It may have taken some time for them to break even, but they are now making a profit and have been confident in using their experience as an example for how to actually get great games done on a budget and pass the value to the customer.

As for the quality of the game, it was one of my favorite games of last year, and was an outstanding achievement in audio and performance, while making the best possible imitation of a AAA game's visuals thanks to UE4 being a beast of an engine.

I guess what I am arguing is that these studios are biting off huge chunks, going all in on big AAA SP campaign games, and they *might* do better to produce (many) smaller games. If one fails, it doesn't topple everything and cause a huge rent in their production pipeline. I would personally rather see a move to this than getting AAA SP games with MTX everywhere to support their game or a throwaway MP mode, but the long and short of it is that any creative endeavor is risky, and *any* big budget game can take a dive nomatter what kind of game it is.
A big studio couldn't sustain itself using that business model because it wouldn't generate enough revenue fast enough to cover their operating costs.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,239
#84
Isn't the problem that studios doing big AAA SP games are already at risk? Hellblade was an attempt to minimize their risk: they had a far lower budget than what is probably seen on an average AAA game, were laser focused on what they were going to deliver (and the scope of that) and people responded generally pretty well to the price. It may have taken some time for them to break even, but they are now making a profit and have been confident in using their experience as an example for how to actually get great games done on a budget and pass the value to the customer.

As for the quality of the game, it was one of my favorite games of last year, and was an outstanding achievement in audio and performance, while making the best possible imitation of a AAA game's visuals thanks to UE4 being a beast of an engine.

I guess what I am arguing is that these studios are biting off huge chunks, going all in on big AAA SP campaign games, and they *might* do better to produce (many) smaller games. If one fails, it doesn't topple everything and cause a huge rent in their production pipeline. I would personally rather see a move to this than getting AAA SP games with MTX everywhere to support their game or a throwaway MP mode, but the long and short of it is that any creative endeavor is risky, and *any* big budget game can take a dive nomatter what kind of game it is.
I wasn't saying that the game was bad, quite the contrary they released an extremely polished game, but that was my point.

You had an extremely good game, a low price point, a great critical response yet the game needed 3 months to break even. Sure they're making a profit now and can leverage that experience later with reused assets and such but I don't see it as being sustainable because as I stated in a previous post, expectation from consumers are growing regarding SP games. They have to be as close to perfect as possible to be even deemed worthwhile to play. So producing more smaller game wouldn't really be a better way to work against that since the expectations are still going to be there and will still grow. That's putting the game more at risk than anything else for me.

Sure, one of them can be a smash hit, but that's still a huge gamble that can be avoided by either going open-world or rather by doing a multiplayer/service game.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,697
#85
None of those games are linear, those are the types of games she's talking about...
So why are they not making a single player Star Wars game that was a similar scale/scope production to Zelda, Mario, Horizon or Nier Automata? I think a lot of people would want to play a single player game along those lines.
 
Oct 27, 2017
400
#86
This is actually one of my pet peeves at the moment. Between family, friends and coworkers - I know a bunch of gamers.
Quite often they'll complain that they're bored, or want something new, or X shooter game has a bad story.

However when it comes to supporting devs and buying new games - especially single player style games, (think Yakuza, Nier, Gravity Rush, Persona), they just don't do it. You could write these off as all being quite quirky, but even stuff like Uncharted Lost Legacy and Horizon were overlooked by the majority of the gamers I know. Meanwhile, they'll go and buy the latest COD, Destiny or Assassin's Creed - which is not a bad thing, but it's kind of 'been there done that'. Then complain that they're bored, or the games are repetitive.

More importantly, when talking about games like Persona, Yakuza, Horizon - they'll watch a 15 minute YouTube clip/impressions/review upload, and then write it off.
I'm often on the other end - buying too many games, creating a backlog that I can't possibly get through. And as a result, I assumed it was a budget/finance thing - with people only wanting to buy a couple of games. However I have found it increasingly frustrating over the past year or so, with some truly excellent games releasing from a single player and story perspective - and more and more complaints (or ignorance) from people who should probably know better.
 

MrHeisenbird

Banned
Member
Nov 8, 2017
751
#89
Of course people don't understand the difference between 'Non-Linear Single Player Games' and 'Linear Single Player Games'.

There's always drive-by posts by those people and it gets tiring.
There are still examples of both of those kinds of games, from just last year alone, that sold a few million copies.
 

Rez

Member
Oct 25, 2017
915
#91
we had a whole thread about this -- posting a link to someone's repost of a fantastic polygon article is super lame.
 
Oct 28, 2017
26
#93
I would definitely be OK with paying $69.99 for top notch, true AAA next gen games. whether the market could support it.. I’m not sure.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,355
#95
So why are they not making a single player Star Wars game that was a similar scale/scope production to Zelda, Mario, Horizon or Nier Automata? I think a lot of people would want to play a single player game along those lines.
When the project was greenlit early 2015 (?), making the title a linear single player wasn't a bad business decision.
 

Frostman

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,187
Great Britain
#96
Sounds like she’s echoed EA’s stance. I still believe that the only games that fail to be a success are the ‘bad’ games without a solid backing. I don’t know off any single player games in the last 5 years or so, that I loved and also didn’t sell well.

Hellblade being the recent example.

This Star Wars game Amy was on, would have sold well, whether or not it ended up being good. It had EA’s marketing machine behind it. But EA love the insane numbers, the incredibly big profits and it seems they won’t settle for anything less. I still could’ve seen this game pushing numbers in the 7-10m range. Certainly not Battlefront 15m numbers, but still very profitable and successfull.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,053
#98
Idk about others but I love story-based games. These days I don't watch much tv and movies so when I see games doing it, I appreciate it.
 

DynamiteCop!

Banned
Member
Dec 23, 2017
129
#99
Because $60 is expensive as its for games, why no raise the cost of consoles too? A couple hundred of dollars is nothing right surely it won't affect potential buyers they will understand
People need to adjust to the value of the dollar falling, wages increasing, inflation and the reality that things need to cost more.

Using your logic cars should still cost $15,000.