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

Yerba_Sutra

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,094
Appalachia
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.
I think a new AA market is on the rise. It's inevitable, honestly. The old players left but there's always demand for solid games in that price/budget range, and new companies are filling the void from both the AAA side (Hellblade) and the indie side (lots of companies are putting out AA-value projects now that the tools are available to them at an affordable price).
 

scitek

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,225
Yes, there are exceptions like The Last Of Us,
And that's precisely the type of games she works on. I think she just lives in a bubble where, to her, AAA games are all that really exist. It's hard to keep up with the changing landscape when you're stuck in a building for 80-100 hours a week for years at a time.
 
Oct 30, 2017
3,005
I guess I'm part of the problem. I buy games when they a sub £20. The occasional odd multiplayer game I buy day 1 to not fall behind competition, though most of the time I don't buy multiplayer games.
 

litebrite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,493
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.
I think Indie developers are evolving to get those spots and making bigger games. I mean what would you categorize a game like Divinity Original Sin? Lab Zero has a JRPG influenced 2d 40 dollar game on the horizon.
 

raitosaito

Member
Oct 28, 2017
246
Firewatch is basically Uncharted 2 Tibet, minus all the combat. Maybe Amy is right, and she admits she only has so many games left in her now. Might as well be creatively fulfilled and make the kind narrative driven games she wants to make by going indie.

My favorite games lately aren’t the bombastic AAA titles. The kind of games she cares about can be made on a smaller budget, not beholden by publishers. Little Nightmare/Inside/Hell Blade. I don’t think she needs to subject herself to the shit fest that is EA.
 

Halabane

Member
Nov 10, 2017
240
Maybe story titles go away from AAA. By nature of them being a story based game they should be focused on characters and plot lines not graphics and tech. Bring them back to turn based games. Bring it back to the switch, 3ds, vita and even cell phone. Nintendo may have it right about having 'enough' power. All those dialog scenes for less than a hundred line of dialog probably cost millions to make. Leave more to the player to fill in the visual gaps. I have played SE FF games 1-10 on handhelds based on older limited graphics and had great experiences. Strange Journeys is coming back from the DS to the 3ds and it was a great title back then....as was the Fire Emblem Series. If there is no voice acting that is okay on the handheld because usually its easier to read there than on the console, its more like a book. I would hate to see this genre of games go away. But I do understand cost. So just focus on story and less on tech and see what happens.
 

Dreamboum

Member
Oct 28, 2017
12,898
Does she receive the full profit of her labour at EA ? Is she in charge of the budget she receives ? You can't just hide behind Amy for problems that are because of publishers. Amy Hennig wasn't going to have a better living because games are suddenly priced 120$ with a lootbox inside another lootbox.

And again, this is Star Wars, not Elmo. No one can say with a straight face that a linear game about one of the most popular and profitable IP of our time wasn't going to sell and make a profit for EA.

We're framing the issue in a way where consumers are the problem ( they can be), but publishers aren't (they are definitely more of a problem).
 

litebrite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,493
I think a new AA market is on the rise. It's inevitable, honestly. The old players left but there's always demand for solid games in that price/budget range, and new companies are filling the void from both the AAA side (Hellblade) and the indie side (lots of companies are putting out AA-value projects now that the tools are available to them at an affordable price).
Agreed.
 

ZhugeEX

诸葛亮 - 卧龙
Administrator
Oct 24, 2017
2,882
I made a thread on this a while back about why we're seeing less AAA linear single player story driven games at the $60 price point.

https://www.resetera.com/threads/why-there-are-less-third-party-aaa-single-player-games-read-op-before-posting.10433/


Amy isn't exactly wrong here. Those games don't sell as much or have as much long term engagement / spend as live service games. Just look at the top 10 best selling games of the year in the US.

  1. Call of Duty: WWII
  2. NBA 2K18
  3. Destiny 2
  4. Madden NFL 18
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  8. Star Wars: Battlefront II
  9. Super Mario Odyssey*
  10. Mario Kart 8*
Odyssey is the only one I would consider a traditional $60 linear single player game.
All the others are live service titles, open world games, multiplayer / co-op focused etc...
 
Nov 2, 2017
2,013
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.
Most companies don’t treat most of their employees horribly, dude. There are tens of thousands of people in the industry happily working for major publishers.

People were expecting Resident Evil, instead they got a new IP billed as a horror game with very little relation to Resident Evil.

Capcom has huge problems listening to their community.
I think you’re projecting a little bit here. Yes, the game is a different take on Resident Evil, but critically it did great, and tons of people think the game is excellent. Certainly there are fans who feel unserved (just like with 4,5 and 6), but it still sold over 4.1m units in just a single year, compared to RE5 and RE6 which have both sold over 8.2m across their entire lifetimes including rereleases. The notion that it’s done badly is a weird one, and it should be noted that just because it’s not nailing projected sales expectations does not mean it’s not profitable. A similar situation happened with Tomb Raider when it first came out and didn’t hit it’s 5m goal that Square had set out for, but it had been profitable nonetheless. I think it’s clear Capcom just had very high hopes considering we know the budget was under RE6’s and they had just come off of RE5 and RE6 which are literally their two best selling titles (single SKU) of all time.
 
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Protome

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,425
I’d be interested in seeing more break downs as to why AAA budgets have increased by such an astronomical amount over the last generation or so. It feels like there must be better ways to cut back on the budget rather than trying to push that increased cost onto consumers through predatory methods like loot boxes.
 

Cap G

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
2,488
What's the downside of AAAA moving to nothing but open world/multiplayer, honestly? It's not like linear story based games will die out. They'll just be made for cheaper by smaller devs that see a hole in the market to fill, and unless you're playing them only for the production values (god help you) you'll still have plenty of games to play.

Hennig is talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. That's a stupid amount of money. Of course everything that expensive is going to fit into one of like, three archetypes and be the death of any creative elements that dont appeal to absolutely everybody. Movies also have this problem, and there's no reason to think gaming is any different.
 

legend166

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,210
I mean, profits are at a record high for all the major publishers.

The "we can't raise prices from $60!" argument she uses is disingenuous. There's literally no proof of that because no one has even attempted it. Why? Because they'll make revenue leaving the prices at $60 but shifting to revenue-based game design instead of say, increasing prices to $80 but not including loot boxes and progression based microtransactions.
 

supernormal

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
641
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.
People won't pay 80-90 dollars for one and done single player games. Most of the time they don't pay the 60 dollars for them either.

I love story based SP games but I can see why they're not really the smartest business move. Gamers now more than ever look at the value proposition and how many hours they can get out of the game vs what they paid, which is why multiplayer has dwarfed Single player, and the single player games that remain have shifted to adding open world filler to increase perceived value.

I've often thought the best solution going forward for big budget story based SP, is to go episodic. Split the game in a way that each smaller part can help fun the development of the next. Either way it's a tough position to be in.
 

zoodoo

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,718
Montreal
They've been back, where do you think games like Nier Automata, Persona 5, and Recore fit at.
True but not enough. Big companies like EA, Activision and co need to diversify their port folio. That's one thing I like about Ubisoft, give them shit for their tower design but they have a range of games that vary both in terms of budget and genre. Capcom used to be like that during the ps2 era. Look at Rainbow Six Seige, For Honor, Rayman Legend, Mario vs Rabbids etc, those games did not cost 100 millions to make and are yet still profitable. In the meantime, they still have AC that take hundreds or thousands of employees to make. Companies need to adapt also. Yes the consumer has to suck it up and pay part of the bill but not all of it. With micro transactions and loot boxes, companies are expecting to hit the jackpot but it does not always work.

A mix of different strategies can be applied. Have your mobile gatcha, your AAA blockbuster and your AA spring release. Trying to make one game being everything does not work most of the time. Square Enix is doing just that, milking their franchises on mobile with gatcha games, developing AAA like mainline Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider and financing AA games like Nier and it seems to be working.
 

DocSeuss

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,560
Sadly, that's what happened with Deus Ex Mankind Divided :(
We 9n era love linear games, those with an story, but the industry, and the game buyers, are going on a different direction.
It's true you can have success with those types of games, but it's much more difficult now, I think.
The problem with Mankind Divided was:

1) it was bad
2) no, really, so bad it actually ruined a bunch of people's saves, including my own, and I had to start over after 19 hours in the game
3) man, that ending, it was so bad
4) this is a game that takes like an hour to get going, with lengthy, dull cutscenes and frequently-interrupted linear levels
5) the game's focus on being in just one (incredibly small) location really hurt it
6) remember when the writers tried to make it about apartheid, but that didn't really work because people with cool robot bits whining that their bodies are cool robot bits comes across as disingenuous? (DEHR had way smarter plotlines, like the lady who felt she had to upgrade to compete, but couldn't afford expensive implants)
7) remember when the "augment your preorder" campaign backfired and upset a lot of people?
8) Remember when they added in a really un-fun side mode that wasn't exciting and nobody liked it?

It didn't really have much of a narrative hook, it didn't keep itself exciting, and all the technical issues early on led to a ton of complaints which killed its chances at success. It didn't help that hyperbolic YouTubers like Jim Sterling were out there making up shit or repeating bad rumors about how the game had been split in half (it wasn't) and the second half would release like a year later or something (which didn't happen, as you all know).

Mankind Divided didn't fail because it was single-player, it failed because it sucked. It sucked because it didn't have a solid, clear vision about what it wanted to be, and a lot of the ideas it did have were genuinely bad ideas (like the apartheid and augment your preorder stuff, as well as a bunch of huge, ultra-linear missions like Golem City).
 

Phrozenflame500

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
1,743
Personally I'm entirely comfortable with single-player titles shifting towards a lower budget AA or indie spaces. Blockbuster linear story-driven AAA titles rarely hold my interest unless anyways with only a few exceptions nowadays.
 
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Aters

Banned
Oct 26, 2017
7,948
Does she receive the full profit of her labour at EA ? Is she in charge of the budget she receives ? You can't just hide behind Amy for problems that are because of publishers. Amy Hennig wasn't going to have a better living because games are suddenly priced 120$ with a lootbox inside another lootbox.
How the hell do you know that? Don't you think people who work on more lucrative projects usually make more money?
 

Vishmarx

Banned
Oct 26, 2017
5,043
Much as i agree with her, it doesnt apply to EA. Theyve done fuck all for single player this gen and lootboxes and streams are largely only prominent for multiplayer games. Nobody minds paying more for games that arent outright designed to scam you. Compare the backlash of Bf2's 'free' dlc to paid dlc like old hunters, zelda, frozen wilds or witcher 3 or hell even far back as skyrim. I would understand if ND tomorrow said theyre not gonna improve graphics anymore to keep dev costs down, i would understand if theyre selling a season pass day 1 but EA can fuck right off for sitting on the star wars ip for so long and not making a single good game out of it and outright cancelling the two that actually looked good.
EA can talk this talk the day they make another kotor, i couldnt give a rat's ass how many A's it has, look like the first two games for all i care.
So yeah while her message makes sense, lets not ignore there plenty of greedy asshats simply using this as an excuse to continue with this trend.
 

DynamiteCop!

Banned
Dec 23, 2017
129
I made a thread on this a while back about why we're seeing less AAA linear single player story driven games at the $60 price point.

https://www.resetera.com/threads/why-there-are-less-third-party-aaa-single-player-games-read-op-before-posting.10433/


Amy isn't exactly wrong here. Those games don't sell as much or have as much long term engagement / spend as live service games. Just look at the top 10 best selling games of the year in the US.

  1. Call of Duty: WWII
  2. NBA 2K18
  3. Destiny 2
  4. Madden NFL 18
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  8. Star Wars: Battlefront II
  9. Super Mario Odyssey*
  10. Mario Kart 8*
Odyssey is the only one I would consider a traditional $60 linear single player game.
All the others are live service titles, open world games, multiplayer / co-op focused etc...
I think a lot of people are unwilling to accept this reality even as it stares them in the face. A lot of gamers talk big about the importance of this, and the importance of that yet in the face of statistical breakdown most of it is rendered null.
 

Hermii

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,227
I guess I'm part of the problem. I buy games when they a sub £20. The occasional odd multiplayer game I buy day 1 to not fall behind competition, though most of the time I don't buy multiplayer games.
Yea I think a big part of the problem is games falling to quickly in value, combined with the fact that theres often signficant improvements in patches months after launch. So if Your willing to wait Your often getting a better Product MUCH cheaper.
 

Patapuf

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,413
The fact that people point to Nier, Yakuza, Hellblade or Persona as "huge sucesses" says everything a big publisher needs to know about just how many people are buying SP games.

Unless you are a GOTY caliber SP game or a huge brand you don't pass the 5+ Million mark.

Whereas if you do a reasonably good job with an MP focused game, you do. If one wants to bring up breakout hits for MP we are looking at Rocket league, PUBG, ARK, Rainbow Six Siege ect. Those players are also still putting money into the games.
 

Dreamboum

Member
Oct 28, 2017
12,898
Yes but I also mentioned large companies doing greedy shit, and a few other factors. Where did I make it seem like I was putting all the blame on the consumer?
I think we need to reframe the argument. I just think that saying that youtube is (one of) the issue is short-sighted because it doesn't explain why things are the way they are. But I think it goes beyond publishers simply being greedy, and I understand that you call them out on it.

The thing is that they just don't care. It's the quest for a bigger profit that drives them. Framing a linear game as a GaaS is hard to work it out, so they make it something else where they can make it a live service. It's not "linear games can't make a profit", they definitely can. It's more "I can make a live service that can profit off the consumers instead". This is the basic argument.

But from that point, do you think that a game being priced 90$ is going to put a leash on their live service ? Is it going to give more options to devs to make what they want ? Remember that Amy's studio was already in an incredibly low morale because the studio had to be splintered for the Battlefield Hardline live service, which put several devs into distress. EA was already starving and draining the studio of their capability to create a great product.

I don't know, it just seems clear there's one target here. And it's not us. At least not in this specific case.
 

hichanbis

Member
Nov 2, 2017
74
I'm pretty sure many SP games in the recent years (like TW3 or Uncharted 4 for example) sold more than decently.
The problem is not with people who will buy anything as long as there's a proper marketing behind it (all the more if the game is critically acclaimed). The problem is that publishers don't really publish a lot of big AAA SP games.
 

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
2,684
Well, I exclusively buy single player games these days but I know I'm in the minority. I don't really play or spend money on multiplayer games at all.
 

Joeyro

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,160
Trophie/achievement stats already tell you enough about completion rates, i'm surprised that games like COD don't drop the single player portion considering that it's probably the most expensive part of their development.
Single player games will thrive on AA experiences and AAA productions by console manufacturers like Sony and Nintendo because they don't need to compete with service based games that are on their platform.
 

MrHeisenbird

Banned
Nov 8, 2017
751
I’d be interested in seeing more break downs as to why AAA budgets have increased by such an astronomical amount over the last generation or so. It feels like there must be better ways to cut back on the budget rather than trying to push that increased cost onto consumers through predatory methods like loot boxes.
100% agreed.

I have my suspicions with publishers sales expectations. Corporations should consider looking at themselves in the mirror if they need their games to sell +10 million to be a success.
 

Mondy

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
2,456
It's not that people aren't buying single player games, it's just EA's idea of a "successful" game has become a 10 million+ PUBG like behemoth that has high profit turnover post launch.

So basically Amy, the fact we were looking forward to a Star Wars game made by you notwithstanding, you get into bed with the devil, you should always expect the worst.
 
Nov 2, 2017
2,013
I'm pretty sure many SP games in the recent years (like TW3 or Uncharted 4 for example) sold more than decently.
Many have also not, like Dishonored 2 and Mankind Divided. It really goes both ways and tbh the majority of the ones that have been sales successes have also been pretty much universally GOTY material. I think it’s tougher than ever right now to be a good-but-not-GOTY-caliber AAA single player game.
 

Dreamboum

Member
Oct 28, 2017
12,898
Most companies don’t treat most of their employees horribly, dude. There are tens of thousands of people in the industry happily working for major publishers.
And there are tens of thousands that are being canned and/or reshuffled around for the publishers needs with no concern for their well-being. What do you think happened at Visceral ? They all left on good terms and it just was a difference in philosophy ? What do you think a crunch is ? A passion drive ?

How the hell do you know that? Don't you think people who work on more lucrative projects usually make more money?
It's putting a band-aid on the issue that regardless of the product and the sales they put out, the money they receive doesn't equal the real price of their labour. Considering that EA also plays the game of delivering bonuses from the metacritic score, that's actually not even a given in the first place.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,481
United Kingdom
Make a good, single player, linear game, which is 5-8 hours long, and I'll buy it.

If you make it open world just because, shove it full of shit side content, make it last 20-30 hours just to say it's long, I won't buy it.
 

TheKidObi

Member
Oct 27, 2017
710
For people saying they need to increase price, your free to go buy the 99$ gold edition or limited edition what ever it is, you can even support them by buying their micro transaction if they have it in their game. As for me I'll keep buying for 60$ if it's worth it and if they have a DLC that's reasonable I'll buy that too. Dont feel sorry for non of this publisher most are making profit with their MP games If they can't make anymore SP games that's fine with me I'll just move on to the next game that do.