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

Oct 26, 2017
7,065
How many linear story-based game were released last year?
I can only recall Hellblade, and for what I read that game was a success.
The fact that you never heard of Prey, Wolfenstein 2 and The Evil Within 2 tells you how dire the situation is.
 
Oct 27, 2017
660
I think the key is to be smarter and reign in the budgets. There are devs are making great single player linear story driven games with smaller budgets. I mean a game is $60 - calculate how much you want to make/ forecast what you would like to sell - then set a budget based on this? Maybe I am missing something obvious here.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,778
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.
There are games that could get away with charging more than 60. Single player only games, especially linear ones, aren't those games. Not if you want to keep a big sales volume.

The problem with rising the price is that people are already waiting for sales. And if those sales don't come, that won't suddenly mean people will buy the game.

There's obviously a few exeptions, but those games already don't get discounted often (Nintendo, GTA, COD, Fifa ect.)
 
Nov 14, 2017
6,695
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.
Yeah but obviously companies aren't willing to take the risk, USA has it easy other countries change the price of their games accordingly and the result isn't pretty
 
Oct 28, 2017
10,905
Amy Hennig is just spewing the same doomsday scenario every other gaming outlet has done so every time a game is cancelled.

It’s becoming utterly tiring to see a defense of publishers all the time and justify morally wrongful practices and say it is to recoup costs. No, loot box is not a necessary evil. It’s wrong.

Publishers are in it for profit. Publishers keeps generating even more profit. Publishers are notoriously bad at handling projects and sinks far more money than what is needed to make a game. They need to handle themselves, we don’t have to suffer to their schemes just to play games.

Amy seems like she took an L for life. I know the Star Wars snafu must have hurt, but you don’t have to become a mouthpiece for publishers and keep on circulating the same fallacious arguments to justify monetization. It wouldn’t even have helped the Star Wars game !
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,879
Mt. Whatever
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.
I guess I did the same, but I dunno, they feel linear to me. The story only goes in one direction with little room for interpretation. In P5 for example you can change what you do on the day-to-day schedule, but the game still has deadlines for everything and events that won't change no matter what. Likewise in Automata, there is nothing you can do in game which will have any effect on story or endings.

I guess we just gotta kinda really limit ourselves to the most finite interpretation.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,871
Appalachia
I think the key is to be smarter and reign in the budgets. There are devs are making great single player linear story driven games with smaller budgets. I mean a game is $60 - calculate how much you want to make/ forecast what you would like to sell - then set a budget based on this? Maybe I am missing something obvious here.
That brings up an issue mentioned by Nirolak in the "Lessons from 2017" thread: a lot of big companies would rather blow up the budget to make sure their game in some way sets a standard to consumers that prevents competition from entering the market.
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,065
Man the "but Hellblade, but Nier, But Persona" posts are so tiring. I feel like people just argue for the sake of it and they already know what the truth is.
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,065
Are those linear games?
Wolfenstein and TEW are definitely linear. Prey is not open world, so it's at least half linear.

Amy Hennig is just spewing the same doomsday scenario every other gaming outlet has done so every time a game is cancelled.

It’s becoming utterly tiring to see a defense of publishers all the time and justify morally wrongful practices and say it is to recoup costs. No, loot box is not a necessary evil. It’s wrong.

Publishers are in it for profit. Publishers keeps generating even more profit. Publishers are notoriously bad at handling projects and sinks far more money than what is needed to make a game. They need to handle themselves, we don’t have to suffer to their schemes just to play games.

Amy seems like she took an L for life. I know the Star Wars snafu must have hurt, but you don’t have to become a mouthpiece for publishers and keep on circulating the same fallacious arguments to justify monetization. It wouldn’t even have helped the Star Wars game !
Devs want to have a living, how evil they are! They should just deliver on bigger and better looking games without asking for more!
 
Oct 25, 2017
988
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.
I see what you're saying, but I think expectations are the key point here: we all expect different things at different costs. Our expectation of what a 30 dollar game must provide is different than a 60 dollar game, for sure: knowing that, there's an opportunity to play in that space that is being passed on for "greener" pastures: in other words, these companies are saying they don't want to make 60 dollar SP games, and that's understandable, but the SP market might survive in the A or AA space if the price is right.

If nobody wants to make smaller games, and just bite off huge chunks in hopes of making vast amounts of cash, nobody is telling them not to get rid of their golden geese here, but instead of investing big in a dangerous AAA SP game, make 3 or 4 smaller games using their already-there technology with smaller teams, and see if they can't find a break out success with good ideas rather than throwing huge amounts of cash at it and hoping it sticks.

Or they can just keep trying to push their luck in AAA SP space and see what happens, but my *guess* would be if you could figure out how to produce these games cheaper, control their costs, have smaller team sizes, and ask for less, then they can produce more in that span, and hope for a breakout success of one or more games rather than betting the farm on something big that underperforms in a huge way. It's just bet hedging.

Eventually being open-world, or having MP won't even be a silver bullet anymore. Then what do we do? Might be a good idea to try and figure out how to reliably have controlled-cost versions of these projects without just continually raising the bar to the point where you can't save yourself down the road, and I personally think the AA space should be explored for that.

But that's just like, my opinion.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,773
I understand what Amy is saying but if anything, watching gameplay videos on youtube has led to me buying MORE single player games than I already do. I'll watch the opening into, maybe 30 minutes of gameplay and sometimes, the game gets me. Most recently was Hellblade. I watched the first 45 minutes or so and purchased it that night and started playing the next day and completing it a few days later.
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,879
Mt. Whatever
The fact that you never heard of Prey, Wolfenstein 2 and The Evil Within 2 tells you how dire the situation is.
Maybe Bethesda just has a really shit reputation. I didn't buy any of those games until sales and tech analysis specifically because I've been bitten by Bethesda in the past. (Playing Bethesda titles on PS3 = Ouch.)
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,871
Appalachia
we don’t have to suffer to their schemes just to play games.
There is an aspect to this that is the consumer's responsibility and it's the most naiive to assume otherwise.
Consumers need to check their entitlement and understand how budgets are handled and stop expecting the best thing ever while also expecting that best thing ever to dip to $20 or go up on YouTube within a month of release.

Yeah, pubs do dumb money-grubbing shit, and I call them out on it a lot - but don't dismiss all of this as a simple defense because she's mad a game she was working on got canned.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,700
Indonesia
There are still examples of both of those kinds of games, from just last year alone, that sold a few million copies.
What are some examples of linear SP games in 2017 that sold a few million copies?

I can only think of Uncharted TLL and Mario Odyssey.

we had a whole thread about this -- posting a link to someone's repost of a fantastic polygon article is super lame.
Yeah.
It's such an interesting article.

We've had a thread here about the topic back then but people didn't care at all. Probably due to the "LOL Polygon" culture which is qute prevalent in this community.
 

DynamiteCop!

Banned
Member
Dec 23, 2017
129
Yeah but obviously companies aren't willing to take the risk, USA has it easy other countries change the price of their games accordingly and the result isn't pretty
They're partially to blame for this as well, they should have eased into price increases over the years.

The fact of the matter though in the mid 90's the average price of a game was about $55, that average has moved very little. Games should be $89.99 right now in the US just based upon inflation, that doesn't even account for how much more costly it is to make games now. The reality is publishers and developers are getting screwed financially by sticking to this $59.99 standard, the only way they know how to recoup some additional earnings without raising prices and causing a huge problem is by implementing transactions in their games.

If things keep going the way they are a lot of companies are just going to shut down or move into something else, it's becoming financially unsustainable and if nothing changes will result in a crash.
 

Yoshi

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,047
Germany
Why does the 60$ price point need to be fixed? In Germany, most games have a luanch price point of 70€ nowadays and e.g. if you want to have the complete Fire Emblem Fates game, you needed to pay 90€ as well (for a single cartidge). You need to market it properly of course. I wouldn't have bought a game from Mrs. platformers-are-outdated, anyway, I require full focus on gameplay, not videogame stories.
 
Oct 28, 2017
10,905
There is an aspect to this that is the consumer's responsibility and it's the most naiive to assume otherwise.
Consumers need to check their entitlement and understand how budgets are handled and stop expecting the best thing ever while also expecting that best thing ever to dip to $20 or go up on YouTube within a month of release.

Yeah, pubs do dumb money-grubbing shit, and I call them out on it a lot - but don't dismiss all of this as a simple defense because she's mad a game she was working on got canned.
Because it doesn't seem short-sighted to you to chalk up lack of sales to people watching it on youtube ? I'm sure it's responsible to say that everyone just go on and watch it on youtube to call it a day. A sensible, data-driven argument and not a handy generalization that everyone can use to justify an audience not buying.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,164
Belarus
The game have just now turned profitable iirc, not something that would be acceptable for any major publisher.
It turned profitable quicker than devs expected, some months ago.

I dont think that's a good example. Hellblade is a 6 hour restricted linear cinematic adventure.
So just like Uncharted but a bit shorter?

and how much net profit did Hellblade make?

anywhere close to PUBG, Overwatch, MOBAs, games like that?

it's not enough to just make any amount of money. the total amount matters in comparison to other games
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.
So the problem is unnecesarily high budgets and greedy publishers. Not people watching games on YouTube and Twitch.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,094
What she's saying makes a lot of sense to me. Like you can invest $100m in a single player game that might decent amount of profit... or you could invest the same money in a multiplayer title that could hit the jackpot and become ludicrously profitable.
 
Nov 5, 2017
1,254
If I think about the story based games (or let's say "experience based games") that I liked, almost none of them have super high production values. Life Is Strange, The Walking Dead, Abzu, Journey, Pony Island, The Stanley Parable, Katawa Shoujo... all mid or low budget games, and all manage to tell much better stories than a random Uncharted or Resident Evil. Yes, there are exceptions like The Last Of Us, but in general I think story based games simply need to keep an eye on the budget and pick a price accordingly.

People don't want to pay full price for a game that's over in a few hours and they won't replay (because no one replays games)? Fine, let's sell at half price. It's the reason why streaming is so popular, why buy a DVD/BR for 10-20€ and litter your house with plastic crap when you can just stream the movie once? Collectors will buy the disc, everyone else is fine with streaming.

Think about writing better stories instead of rendering every hair on Nathan Drake's ass.
 
Oct 27, 2017
218
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.
So your suggestion for saving single player games is to RAISE the price?

Ok.
 
Jan 17, 2018
1,098
Well (I'm almost sure I'm mistaken when I say this but here it goes anyway), games should be in the first place an interactive and fun experience to the player, meaning it should promised something that we as costumers are not going to have by only watching the game.
If linear single player games are failing at sales is because they're not providing that singular experience that separates the gaming one from the other entertaining industries.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,871
Appalachia
Because it doesn't seem short-sighted to you to chalk up lack of sales to people watching it on youtube ? I'm sure it's responsible to say that everyone just go on and watch it on youtube to call it a day. A sensible, data-driven argument and not a handy generalization that everyone can use to justify an audience not buying.
Do you really think that's all she's chalking this up to?
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,985
I dunno. I'm having a hard time believing that games that are either single player, story driven, linear or all 3 are having a hard time selling.

Look at Xenoblade 2, Yakuza 0, Nier Automata, FFXV, Persona 5, Mario Odyssey, BotW.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,387
Compared to the days of Acclaim, Midway, Neversoft, Iguana Entertainment, Sierra, Infogrames, CORE, Crave etc.

It's still greatly on life support.
Sure, however I meant this generation which started out primarily small indie games and Triple AAA. The Double AA game has been making a comeback in relation to that start.
 
Oct 26, 2017
957
There's truth to this. My watch to play ratio is skewered towards watch. Also I don't understand why the standard price in NA must remain $60 when the price increased everywhere else this gen.
It's not $60 this gen in North America with the falling Canadian dollar, and NA also includes Mexico and the Caribbean too.

Yes, I know with sales at launch you can get games for $60 or slightly cheaper in Canada still.

Anyway games are more expensive in other markets. Look at Japan, companies can charge a premium based on name alone like FFXV at launch which was about 9000y with tax at launch. And that is the price without the season pass too. Yes I know the price eventually sunk to the bottom of the ocean but still the point stands.
 
Nov 2, 2017
1,593
Yeah, the success of games like freaking Nier Automata of all things shows that there is a way.
NieR still “only” did a bit over 2m units shipped and evidently did not cost as much as games like your Uncharteds and Battlefields. The 5m+ sales bracket is what you want for the games this conversation is about. 2m units sold at $60 (which isn’t even what NieR got to factoring in sales) is nowhere close to successful on the types of budgets Amy is citing ($100m range). It is certainly possible to be succeful with “smaller” titles like NieR, Ni-Oh or Persona 5, but the biggest of big tent pole games for the biggest publishers cannot be moving only 2m units and genuinely do demand gargantuan investment and thus also demand gargantuan return.
 

DynamiteCop!

Banned
Member
Dec 23, 2017
129
Sure, however I meant this generation which started out primarily small indie games and Triple AAA. The Double AA game has been making a comeback in relation to that start.
Maybe for Japanese games, but they appeal to such a small niche in the market it hardly amounts to anything notable. Western AA's need to come back for there to be any real impact, that is what made the AA market thrive.
 
Oct 28, 2017
10,905
Wolfenstein and TEW are definitely linear. Prey is not open world, so it's at least half linear.



Devs want to have a living, how evil they are! They should just deliver on bigger and better looking games without asking for more!
Ok, now that is becoming ridiculous. Publishers are devs, now ? Please don't equate people passionate enough to create a game with a company that profits from their labours and treats them horribly.