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

Oct 26, 2017
9,278
The issue is way too complex to boil down to "linear" vs everything else. I guess Hennig's breed of linear AAA game definitely has this issue but I think it's a largely self-inflicted one. Publishers have been conditioning customers to go for the best of the best only. But I don't think that opponents of GaaS are necessarily asking for linear games only, just single-player experiences that aren't monetized to hell and and back.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,911
Hellblade sold well.
Nier Automata sold well.
Persona 5 sold well.
Cuphead sold well.
Nioh sold well.
You know why? Because they managed their budget better.

Then you have the triple A games like RE7 which is over 4 million. Uncharted 4 sold over 8 million. Yes U4 has multiplayer co-op stuff but people buy naughty dog games for the single player. Crash sold well all year last year and that's linear. I don't give a fuck it's a remaster/remake it's still a linear single player game. Then there's Mario Odyssey which sold well.

Thank you to all the developers/publishers who still make great linear single player games.
 

EMGESP

Banned
Member
Oct 31, 2017
506
Tomb Raider 2013 and ROTR says otherwise Amy. Stop making excuses, there is still a decent chunk of the gaming market that want linear experiences.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,387
I acutally don't think it's a problem.

If more people prefer MP games that's were the big guys will put their money in.

It's not like there's not a plethora of high quality SP games at lower budget levels. They just don't look like Uncharted or Battlefront and they will not be made by the big publishers.

Some high budget SP games will also still be made, it's not like that market is dead.
True, but if your position revolves around Triple AAA story driven, linear games than I can see how it's a problem. LOL
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,684
People are also watching multiplayer games like PUBG and Overwatch online. To say that nobody's buying linear games b/c they're watching them online is an oversimplification. I think they pull different types of customers. Certainly there is some segment that will watch a game online, but how can you translate that 1:1 to lost sales? It's like piracy. A viewer may never have bought the game anyway. But you might also get some people that see it and say "hey! I want to play that myself!". I know that's happened with Giant Bomb Endurance Runs.
When you watch a movie you watch a movie. When you watch people play match that doesn’t spoil anything for you nor discourage you from playing.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,004
None of those games are linear, those are the types of games she's talking about...
You are right except many of those games have sold before. Devs moved away from them, so you cannot blame consumers if you made the choice for them already. It can be argued that the success of Uncharted and TLOU, are thanks to them being linear with a strong story focus.

Open world, open world, open world, open world. Literally none of those games is a linear, story-based game. And the last game you listed sold has textures that look like this.

Western AAA games are not permitted to look like this.
It really depends on what they are focusing on. And Automata runs with a 60fps target. Most western AAA games target 30 FPS and prioritize graphics.
 
I get what she means, but it's hard to sympathise with. As a consumer, I don't care about their budget-concerns or about how they need to compete against online multiplayer lifestyle games. I understand that they feel pressure and it might even be their fiduciary duty to investors to chase the golden geese of the season, but again I don't see how that's on the consumer.

I do admit that's easy for me to say, since I do not care about most of these AAA games, and couldn't care less about games that push hardware to their limits. In fact, especially in case of the latter, I wonder if you look at the best selling games out there, how many of them are technical show-pieces. PUBG is killing it at the moment, and that game can look pretty gnarly.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,528
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?
It's entertainment. My kids do it. Just to see the game. Now they play a little of Minecraft and watch a lot of Minecraft.

It's just a new age 'now it's your turn' except the person isn't in the room
 

BLLYjoe25

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,969
i prefer single player linear games. maybe not everyone is buying them but i can only speak for myself of course. if you don't make liner SP games then i'm not buying your game. i don't want Star Wars Battlefront. I want a good story driven game
 
Oct 27, 2017
7,251
On the other hand EA totally invested a comparable number into Mass Effect Andromeda and that certainly demonstrates that even loads of money can’t guarantee anything.
ME: Andromeda's sales figures are unknown. We do know it was financially successful, however. The game's DLC being cancelled seemingly has more to do with the development team being dysfunctional.

Wait, did you just call Mario Oddysey "open world"?
Yes. We don't really have a precise word for the Mario 64 style of world design, but it isn't linear, and "hub based" doesn't quite describe it. Saying that Mario Odyssey isn't open world is like saying that Homefront: The Revolution or Stalker: Call of Pripyat aren't open world (and people did actually try).
 
Oct 28, 2017
9,981
Sorry but you can't convince me I'm "wrong" for waiting for sales, specially when most publishers don't use regional pricing, and don't give me the "gaming is an expensive hobby don't do it if you can't afford it" schtick.

Like people already said, linear story driven games need to tone down to AA instead of chasing AAA. The story is the major point after all, non? Leave the eyecandy and technical prowess to genres that depend on it. Surely the singleplayer crowd - which still exists and buy games - will get your product still. I'm already expected to pay 300 reais or more for a game im playing once and it's done, raising the price to 500 reais will just make me stop buying games.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,778
It does if you care, bioware is already on a decline and their best were already siphoned off to make the next lootbox sensation anthem. By having the money, i mean its more than just the process of withdrawing a wad of cash from the bank and throwing it inside the office building. If your top brass is composed of talentless hacks who are more interesting in twitter politics than their job then its your job to get them replaced by people who are actually good at what they get paid for. If you dont have the time for that then hire someone who does.It also means acknowledging the controversy around how much of a shitshow andromeda looked prior to release and making sure it never came to that.
failure is a part of business, just like they wont stop making battlefront after 2. but you just know ME is in the grave and if it does come back itll be worse than ever. instead the next bf3 will have more money, more marketing and more everything from them.

Despite setbacks nintendo and sony have always proved single player games can be guaranteed success just as much as mp games, long as youre committed to it.
Tell me if you had to put money on one of the following crackdown being a big success or the next linear mario bros/tlou 2 being a big success which one would you go for?
EA is a perfect example.

Mass Effect Andromeda was bad. It tanked.

Battlefront 2 was a terrible game with a huge social media shitstorm and regulators taking a close look at it.

It's in the top 10 best selling games of the year.

That's the difference of the market for big pubs right now.
 
Oct 29, 2017
1,786
You do realise that their performance, except for BotW and Odyssey, would be considered dreadful if they were AAA games right?
There's still a sizable market for this type of games for sure but it's not as profitable as it once was.
Precisely this. And all these people arguing arguing for developer to "manage costs better" will be the first to complain about the games not looking like Assassin's Creed Origins.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,550
I don't think it's that people want linear, story based games though. I think people just want single player games that have everything available to everyone from launch to when it drops in price.

GTA San Andreas is a perfect example of what I mean. No matter when you bought that, you got the exact same experience. Players who pre-ordered didn't get any extra content, and they didn't release any other DLC. It wasn't a linear game though, nor was it's story the main part of the package.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,980
Singapore
Just a thought but maybe she should try actually shipping a linear story driven game again before making comments about sales. She hasn't shipped a game since Nov 2011 and considering her ambitions, starting a third new project anytime soon will mean she won't ship one before 2020 or 2021. That's a whole decade out of the market. Depressing.
 
Oct 27, 2017
946
Why pay 60$ when I can watch 100% of the game on Youtube/Twitch and spend half of that for a game that I can play for hundreds or even thousands of hours? This is how lots of my friends and people that I know think. And I can't really blame them. When you've paid 10$ for 2k hours of CS:GO or 30$ for 400+ hours of PUBG how can you pay 50/60$ for a game you'll play once or twice in your lifetime?

It's just how the industry is now. There are tons of games and with how limited time is people will give their money in whatever they see as a better value. Hence the shift to GaaS/online multiplayer games from devs.
I used to think like that as well when I was in my early 20s. But now in my 30s, I no longer care about kids half my age screaming racist insults in their mics, 95% of games I play now are single player story driven games. Tastes change, your income changes as well and 60$ for a 10 hour top notch story driven game starts looking like a bargain compared to other forms of entertainment.
 
Oct 25, 2017
707
UK
Oct 25, 2017
1,004
On the other hand EA totally invested a comparable number into Mass Effect Andromeda and that certainly demonstrates that even loads of money can’t guarantee anything.

Money doesn't solve all problems but you don't get to pull that card if the issues plaguing the development of the game have nothing to do with money.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was in development for five years, but by most accounts, BioWare built the bulk of the game in less than 18 months.
I don't think it's that people want linear, story based games though. I think people just want single player games that have everything available to everyone from launch to when it drops in price.

GTA San Andreas is a perfect example of what I mean. No matter when you bought that, you got the exact same experience. Players who pre-ordered didn't get any extra content, and they didn't release any other DLC. It wasn't a linear game though, nor was it's story the main part of the package.
I don't think people care about linear or open world. People are attracted to games that look good, or appeal to them. How many complaints about Uncharted 2 being linear did anyone hear?
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,566
Precisely this. And all these people arguing arguing for developer to "manage costs better" will be the first to complain about the games not looking like Assassin's Creed Origins.
Exactly..it's so hypocritical. Certain art styles don't appeal to people, we already have arguments on what type of graphical technique's are used on certain games, then there's the aspect of length of said game...most people would rather rent a game that can be completed in 7-8 hours before they buy it for $60….and some people think that budgeting is going to stop this? Come on, everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too when it's so much more complicated than that. I'm pretty sure Bethesda would have loved tons of people to buy the evil within 2 and prey but again, no one did....and probably only wanted to after it was at a reduced price of $30-40. So none of what she is saying is false.....people really think they want linear games but they really don't.
 
Oct 29, 2017
821
The problem isnt linear games per se its a combination of things. For example I have beaten this drum a lot but Wolfenstein 2 is a perfect example of one of the issues. Wolf 2 released at the same time as AC origins and Mario with CoD the week after. From the get go you look at that and see I can get Wolf which I am really looking forward too but I know I will beat it in a weekend or should I get one of the other games which will keep me going a lot longer. If they moved the release date to a less crowded time many more would of picked it up at full price. Then you have the price cuts. Wolf 2 was down to £25 within a month which also happens usually to these games. Why buy it if it gets discounted so quickly? The streaming is comment is interesting but I think for the most part is a red herring. If a game is good streaming it will help it rather than harm it as you would like to try out the game itself. For pure story based games (ie walking simulators) there may be a point but for actual games with real interactivity streaming would be a positive.

For me I prefer linear games for the most part. The clear beginning, middle and end work for me and you can knock the games out quicker. Don't get me wrong I like open world games as well and as strange it sounds even though I prefer linear games I am more likely to buy open world games at full price as there is more perceived value there. I think the solution is change the pricing structure and release schedule. Back to Wolf 2 if they released it two parts 6 months apart in a chuck like the Wolf The Old blood at the same price point it would look better. Budgets needs to be looked at to make them more realistic. Reusing assets to safe cost. There is a market for linear games but the industry needs to be smarter and move with the times. Open world games (and GaaS) have become a blessing and curse. If developers want to make linear games they need to be smarter and adapt and the growth of the indie scene proves graphics isnt the most important thing.
 
Oct 25, 2017
374
Just a thought but maybe she should try actually shipping a linear story driven game again before making comments about sales. She hasn't shipped a game since Nov 2011 and considering her ambitions, starting a third new project anytime soon will mean she won't ship one before 2020 or 2021. That's a whole decade out of the market. Depressing.
I'm pretty sure she is trying very hard.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,911
Just a thought but maybe she should try actually shipping a linear story driven game again before making comments about sales. She hasn't shipped a game since Nov 2011 and considering her ambitions, starting a third new project anytime soon will mean she won't ship one before 2020 or 2021. That's a whole decade out of the market. Depressing.
Agreed. She would've made U4 a bad game considering she wanted Nathan Drake to spend half the game not using guns. Wtf.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,980
Singapore
Agreed. She would've made U4 a bad game considering she wanted Nathan Drake to spend half the game not using guns. Wtf.
That's actually a pretty good idea considering how bad the shooting in Uncharted is... The best parts of UC4 were the exploration bits without combat encounters.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,697
If Star Wars sold what Nier sold it would be considered a flop, that's just the reality of the situation.

Nier did great for what it is but not even close to the big sellers of the industry.
I think the Star Wars ip is more likely to generate sales that the Nier ip.

I suggested they make a Star Wars game of the scope and scale of Nier. Not that they license the Nier ip and make a Nier game.
 
Oct 29, 2017
2,398
Maybe I'm speaking from tremendous privilege for not giving two hoots about the length of a game, or thinking nobody that paid $120 for a SF2 cartridge back in the day would, but I feel like all for all of these arguments

  • Gamers demand highest production values
  • Gamers demand long games
  • Gamers rather watch a let's play than buy a game
  • Gamers etc.
You can substitute "Gamers" with "16 year olds". And just because she works at EA and to a lesser extent ND for such a long time, who seem to think the 16 year old is the be all end all, she internalized that as the market. When, sure, that's probably the mode and close to the median, and therefore the single demographic you can make the most money on, but hardly constitutes the whole market.
 
Oct 31, 2017
671
Austria
I play only SP focused games and I want them to look good. Ergo I buy them day 1.

So yeah, I think I‘m doing my part. But I fully understand what she is saying. The mindset of some people is baffling to me. Like this one guy in my company who complains about microtransactions but bought and played Destiny 2 for months and only buys SP games on sale.

Like... I mean... The retardedness is causing me migraines.
 
Oct 29, 2017
3,674
In addition to my earlier comment, I also think this is partially the result of the previously-widely-held belief that there were millions of casual gamers just waiting to jump in, if only games had better stories and they weren't so intimidated by difficulty. When ironically the best-selling games seem to be multiplayer games, which have little (if any) writing and actually offer challenge and depth.
 
Oct 29, 2017
545
I disagree with her.

If she's expecting single player story driven games to move popular multiplayer game numbers, she's mistaken.

Plenty of examples already placed throughout this thread of single player games that sold well.
I think Amy's just frustrated (rightfully so) with her recent happenings with EA.
 
Nov 3, 2017
6,689
I think the Star Wars ip is more likely to generate sales that the Nier ip.

I suggested they make a Star Wars game of the scope and scale of Nier. Not that they license the Nier ip and make a Nier game.
The money that goes into that game might be better off funding a multiplayer shooter and making three times the sales.

I'm just speaking from the perspective of a money-hungry big businessman.
 
Oct 31, 2017
616
Montreal
I can confirm. A lot of people don't buy them usually... on day one. I saw a lot of people buying the big single player games of 2017 during Black Friday and Boxing Day. They don't just buy them full priced. :/

Framing her as "former ND employee" seems kind of dismissive of Hennig's role in the industry.
Why dismissive? Since when saying "former ND" means somethig negative. It's usually quite the opposite. :(
 

Vishmarx

Banned
Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,053
EA is a perfect example.

Mass Effect Andromeda was bad. It tanked.

Battlefront 2 was a terrible game with a huge social media shitstorm and regulators taking a close look at it.

It's in the top 10 best selling games of the year.

That's the difference of the market for big pubs right now.
Context is key,
Andromeda is a shitshow. BF2 actually isnt , id know because i had it preordered and got it day 1, still play it, thats how i know lobbies are starting to empty up already.
ME 3 soured fans, andromeda marketing didnt make them hopeful.
Star wars is arguably the biggest multimedia IP on the planet and bf2 released next to a mainline movie being the safest aaa genre right now. Theyre obligated to make more free dlc and their lootboxes are dead. It was also heavily discounted within weeks and is very easy to find for cheap. The fact that something that shouldve leapfrogged over a call of duty is seeing empty lobbies already is a bigger failure than andromeda in any reality. And i dont even kid, you could find matches on the first game easily even months or days before BF2 released.
 

Alexious

Executive Editor for Games at Wccftech
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
506
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?
I am as baffled as you are, however it is true. Even a friend of mine who used to play as much as I did recently got into this. Whenever I mention a new game to him, he just says he watched it on YouTube or Twitch.
 
Oct 30, 2017
108
hum... I smell bullshit. It's weird when something like this is being said by a person who were at Naughty Dog. Because all their singleplayer experiences were a success and i think Last of Us PART 2 will be too.
And a lot of singleplayer games were a success in 2017 : Resident Evil 7, Mario, Zelda, Persona 5, Nioh, Nier Automata, Assassin's Creed Origins. (not a 2017 video game but... The Witcher 3 ?)

It's not because some games are not a success means people don't buy them, a lot of GaaS and multi player games did bomb like shit : Lawbreakers, Battleborn, and many more

Just : Make good games, people will buy them, it's that simple !
 

Deleted member 11093

User requested account closure
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Oct 27, 2017
9,095
Why dismissive? Since when saying "former ND" means somethig negative. It's usually quite the opposite. :(
Because she’s the one who came up with Uncharted and Drake/Sully’s characters? You know, the franchise and the characters that made Naughty Dog the big thing that it currently is.

I mean, half the people on this board would raise their pitchforks and call for OP’s deaths had he called Kojima an “ex-Konami employee”.
 

Deleted member 11093

User requested account closure
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Oct 27, 2017
9,095
I am as baffled as you are, however it is true. Even a friend of mine who used to play as much as I did recently got into this. Whenever I mention a new game to him, he just says he watched it on YouTube or Twitch.
Yup, had a friend whom I thought played through Witcher 3 in its entirety due to how much he knew about the game when we used to talk about it, then I randomly found out by him that he actually viewed two entire palythroughs of it on YouTube.
Made me wanna die.
 
Oct 25, 2017
917
It's kind of weird that a forum filled with people who have never made a game before are telling the experienced game developer she's wrong.
 
Oct 27, 2017
790
Sounds like Stockholm syndrome to me. Amy is now talking like a real EA employee.

People want good games. People want good linear story driven games, as long as they’re good. They don’t need to have a 200 million budget, Japanese studios work under a very tight budget most of the time and their games are very good, ask them how it’s possible for them to do it.

But it doesn’t matter, I know it’s EA talking and I don’t exactly trust EA after all their fuck ups and lies. Maybe the problem is that you’re now working for a company who’s know for their not-very-smart decisions. Canceling your game was probably one of them, we would have bought it if we had the chance.
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,583
There's really nothing inaccurate about her statement. Anyone paying attention to this industry has been saying this for years.

And people raising things like fucking Nier or Hellblade as examples of successful linear single player games? A game that sold 2+million and a game that took months to be profitable respectively? If one of the big publishers posted results like that, heads would be rolling
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,004
Uncharted 3 was released in 2009 on the PS3. That was almost nine years ago.
Doesn't matter Uncharted 4 is in the same vein (slightly larger sandbox areas mid game) but the series basically was built around linear progression through sandbox like areas and was greatly story based. And that game sold almost 9 million copies. Point is, if you want to do the research I am sure you can come up with more games that did great sales. The issue is that alot of games have shifted towards open world that were more linear in the past. This was not done in reaction to customers demands it seems, this was done to make title more appealing based off of general feedback they got. To make each title less risky.

Square has had absurd projections for games for quite some time.
 

Vishmarx

Banned
Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,053
I'm just speaking from the perspective of a money-hungry big businessman.
Which is exactly what were arguing, its not as much about sp games not being successful as it is about the greedy businessmen wanting to make easier money, which kind of goes against what she's saying.
Whats ironic is that her former studio is still doing the same thing and doing just fine. Sure it comes with a truckload of stress but i highly doubt dice has been all sugar and rainbows either.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
Italy
again, blaming the gamers for this is so meaningless, nobody said amy has to make a linear game, or a AAA game. I think theres a gigantic canyon of options between the most expensive least lucrative game on the market and outright cancellation.
Hell say what you will ubisoft , but after unity they actually managed to pull their single player ip out of the grave and make it a big success in this day and age. Their mp games sell like hotcakes but they still actually put in the money and effort in even if it wasnt as profitable as wildlands or something.
I'm not blaming anyone. I know for a fact that what consumers state they want through questionnaires and focus groups differs from they actually buy. This is a known fact in business since many years and in many sectors.

Also, Assassin's Creed doesn't seem the right example. It's been one of the biggest IPs out there and also Origins will hardly match the sales of the peak of the series; it's selling better than previous entries but way worse that the best-selling entries, signaling a decline in the franchise.