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Blizzard Says Single-Player Games are Endangered Species

By - Source: GamesIndustry | B 104 comments

The single-player game as we remember it is on the way out.

In a recent interview with Games Industry, Blizzard's Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo agreed that the traditional, big-budget single-player game is an endangered species. He said that between piracy and the ability for consumers to rent games, it's now extremely difficult for publishers to dump millions of dollars into a single player game and not see the financial return they need to make the investment realistic.

"One of the bigger trends is there's a lot of smaller games able to be created, so you are seeing a lot more innovation that isn't possible in the AAA space because of the money and the risk involved," he said. "You'll see a lot of these really innovative indie games, mobile games, social games, that people can try out and test new and innovative ideas."

Some of those ideas, he said, will eventually turn into AAA games. They'll also become an "experimental hotbed of gaming design."

He goes on to defend the subscription-based game model, saying that it still works when games aren't over-valued. That means publishers and developers need to design a game to keep the player engaged on a daily basis. Some have slapped on a subscription model because they thought they could get away with it, and failed. Players looked at what they received for $10 to $15 per month and didn't see any value.

Pardo actually moves on to defend the free-to-play model as well, calling it a strong, friendly business that lets potential customers try a product with no risk, and then lets them pay for what they want (such as gear, locked continents, extra characters, etc).

"I think that is a really strong model," he said. "Free-to-play is almost like a genre of business models, there are so many different ways you can apply it. I think for free-to-play to work really well it has to be deeply integrated with the game design itself. What is it that people are going to buy, and how much are you going to pay for this versus the other thing? One of the biggest issues with free-to-play models these days is the feeling that a lot of games give me: That for me to progress in this game, or to really have a deep game experience, you have to pay. That's where free-to-play gets a bad rap. But that's more the game design than the model."

The full interview can be read here.

 

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  • 43 Hide
    oxiide , October 7, 2012 7:19 PM
    I agree that the $59.99 single-player game with an 8-hour play experience is an endangered species—cough, Activision, Ubisoft, EA—and it damned well should be. Single-player games like Skyrim that offer customization and tons of replay value will continue to do just fine.
  • 39 Hide
    amoralman , October 7, 2012 7:19 PM
    In response to the title :

    No, Blizzard *wishes* single-player games were an endangered specie.
  • 38 Hide
    jdwii , October 7, 2012 7:08 PM
    Skyrim oh i guess that is not a big hit either?
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , October 7, 2012 7:07 PM
    I'm trying to imagine Shadow of the Colossus as anything but a traditional single-player experience and it's making me shudder. Let's make the game free and charge you to boost your stamina; no more lizard-hunting needed! Or hey, we'll upgrade your sword so that it guides you even when you're in the shade!

    F--k no.
  • 27 Hide
    edogawa , October 7, 2012 7:07 PM
    I have a hard time believing piracy really hurts companies that bad. With steam you've got so many good deals I can't imagine people would pirate games anymore(unless the game is just pure garbage); if someone does pirate games anymore it's sad I think.

    I kind of wonder why console games don't have serial codes for accounts yet too, they lose so much money on people trading and selling used games.
  • 38 Hide
    jdwii , October 7, 2012 7:08 PM
    Skyrim oh i guess that is not a big hit either?
  • -4 Hide
    rds1220 , October 7, 2012 7:12 PM
    FU Blizzard and your shitty World of Warcraft games. No everone likes MMORPG's I would give up gaming before I would start playing stupid unrealistic games like World of Warcrap that takes no skill.
  • 31 Hide
    Pennanen , October 7, 2012 7:16 PM
    The "is game worth 15$ a month" part is bit funny. Wow is hardly worth anything but people keep playing it because they are so obsessed about virtual items they have there.

    I got bunch of friends who always complain how bad wow is, yet they keep playing. When i ask them why wont they just quit, they tell me they dont want the things they worked hard for to go waste.

    I dont even.
  • 39 Hide
    amoralman , October 7, 2012 7:19 PM
    In response to the title :

    No, Blizzard *wishes* single-player games were an endangered specie.
  • 43 Hide
    oxiide , October 7, 2012 7:19 PM
    I agree that the $59.99 single-player game with an 8-hour play experience is an endangered species—cough, Activision, Ubisoft, EA—and it damned well should be. Single-player games like Skyrim that offer customization and tons of replay value will continue to do just fine.
  • 16 Hide
    dimar , October 7, 2012 7:20 PM
    Lack of story rich single-player games is what makes me lose the interest in gaming. Mass Effect series was the last game I was interested in.
  • 14 Hide
    mousseng , October 7, 2012 7:24 PM
    edogawaI have a hard time believing piracy really hurts companies that bad. With steam you've got so many good deals I can't imagine people would pirate games anymore(unless the game is just pure garbage); if someone does pirate games anymore it's sad I think.I kind of wonder why console games don't have serial codes for accounts yet too, they lose so much money on people trading and selling used games.

    On the piracy point, I know that a lot of piracy is to actually *try* the game before you buy it, because often times demos are completely non-representative (or non-existent). Publishers see piracy as lost sales, as if every time a game is pirated that's one person that isn't buying it. The thing is, either they don't have the money to buy it (so that's not a lost sale either way), or they like it (after which they're likely to buy it, so it's not a lost sale), or they don't like it and they'll delete what they downloaded (which is a lost sale, but is their fault moreso than the pirate's).

    Also, you make a good point about used sales: I'd wager used games hurt publisher's profits much more than piracy (even if what I said about piracy is totally wrong).
  • 3 Hide
    matt_b , October 7, 2012 7:26 PM
    Quote:
    Blizzard Says Single-Player Games are Endangered Species

    I've said the same thing about their ability to release innovative and quality content that isn't a rehash of the same old formula that used to work just to earn a quick buck - for awhile now. I can understand the piracy thing, but it comes back to the fact that those that truly pirate on a noticeable scale, KNOW what they are doing and any new DRM is just another obstacle that they will eventually find a path around. This comes back to just hurting your average consumer (ie: limited install, jumping through hoops just for activation, constant internet connection, etc.). Free to play can be applied properly, but I've also seen it implemented more to where if the user "didn't" buy this weapon, character, vehicle, map/level pack or whatever, then the developers have made it so that gamer feels sorely at a disadvantage or purchasing said items is intrusively spammed. I know there are some that do it right, TF2 sort of comes to mind with the economy it created. Yet the play "experience" is exactly that of others that have paid. There is no weapon that owns all, no maps you're missing out on (community created and the Valve ones are all free), no augmentation that makes you player that much better - hats? I feel if as he says, FTP gives the user a "taste" of the experience, why do we have demos for so many titles then?
  • 24 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , October 7, 2012 7:28 PM
    Just like the big labels killed music, these big labels will kill games. Blizzard used to be the peak of PC gaming and now they sound like Ubisoft.
  • 10 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , October 7, 2012 7:31 PM
    Well co-op is such fun, but every now and again I find a single player game that just has me addicted for weeks. I'd hardly say they are endangered.
  • 12 Hide
    matt_b , October 7, 2012 7:37 PM
    oxiideI agree that the $59.99 single-player game with an 8-hour play experience is an endangered species—cough, Activision, Ubisoft, EA—and it damned well should be. Single-player games like Skyrim that offer customization and tons of replay value will continue to do just fine.

    The Elder Scrolls are the absolute hallmark when it comes to single player as well as replay value. Add to it the community tools for ordinary users to mod and add content, you have an absolute jewel of a model that practically no one follows. Not to mention the fact that these things have about a 5 year development cycle, that's a ton of time and effort put in to one game that for me, feels every bit worth what their asking price is. As for the 8 hour play experience, that's the norm unfortunately - but I think this is THE reason the single player campaigns are being made extinct by players. I cannot tell you how many titles I've been psyched-up for, read the review of a 5-10 campaign, and said F-that for $50/$60. What's a real shame is the extinction of (what used to be the norm), the 25-40 hour campaign titles. Or should I even say, what's a bigger shame is when games were actually challenging. Anyone old enough to remember when you beat something it was news worthy to your buds, whereas now it's, "Yeah, I beat it in xx hours".
  • 21 Hide
    Vorador2 , October 7, 2012 7:38 PM
    So much concentrated bullshit on a single interview. After the disaster that was Diablo III this guy should just shut up.

    It has been proven than the MMO market is oversaturated, and it's really hard to turn a profit on big budget games. Companies turn to F2P because they have no other choice. WoW survives because it was the best and it is the one with the most content, by far. But it was losing subscribers fast before Mist of Pandaria, and i wonder how many it recovered with it.

    And single player games are still turning a nice profit, no matter. Mass Effect series, Skyrim...and games with both singleplayer and multiplayer like Borderlands 2.
  • 25 Hide
    SirDevon , October 7, 2012 7:39 PM
    I admit I am a big fan of GuildWars and now GW2. Since I do not have to subscribe to play the game, it allows me to pick it up anytime I have the free time and desire to play.

    I tried WoW, and for me, I felt I had to devote time to play in order to get 'value' for the subscription cost. That really soured that game for me.
  • 10 Hide
    mortsmi7 , October 7, 2012 7:42 PM
    So to sum up this article...

    The less money you have, the more likely your company will be to innovate because you can't afford to fail. But somehow less risk in involved. Indies will be the new AAA makers.

    I think Blizzard could learn a few things about innovation from IBM and Intel. Blizzard no longer wishes to move forward. They should sell themselves off to EA.
  • 8 Hide
    spentshells , October 7, 2012 7:43 PM
    I hate to say it 1 player games are usually just to easy even when on hard.
    The reasoning is a complete lack of even reasonable AI for enemies,

    the big draw is full on graphics because that is easier than programing even mild AI or implementing the more than 1 or 2 routines or even random actions of enemies standing at point a b and c
    I agree 60 bucks for that is a stretch but 29.99 > 39.99 games might clear a lot of that up..
  • 0 Hide
    hootis8 , October 7, 2012 7:56 PM
    Its only an endangered species because none of the big companies make large enough profits since to make a proper single player game the developers need to actually know how to make good game play meaning that they have to be paid and it will also take time; Chief offenders EA and Blizzard its incredibly ironic that blizzard is making this statement, since they have invested their huge sums of money in keeping bad developers that only know how to add levels and loot to game making them addictive while keeping as much real game play as far away from their games as possible. So EA managed to take a good FPS call of duty and over the course of several years manage to make millions of dollars while removing any real game play in exchange for experience that pops up everytime you kill someone which managed to be turned into a menial task compaired to the like of LOL,CS(all of them), TF2 and many other game where killing someone is a feat in themselves rather than rely on experience to fill the void that the developers weren't able to fill themselves.
  • 4 Hide
    MAC_HATER , October 7, 2012 7:56 PM
    even if they are an "endangered species" - can a game be a Species? in any case - it doesn't mean cheap out on the bloody things and make them terrible - if anything the reason they are apparently in decline is from terrible games being hurriedly churned out with rushed development and crappy ports!
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