Shannon Loftis, the Xbox publishing head, has offered her take on the future of single-player games in the wake of EA’s decision to close Visceral Games.
Acknowledging the production burden of delivering both cutting-edge graphics and a strong story that can last many hours, Loftis has said that developers must now weigh the risk of investing resources into a single-player game against the profit that can be made from the title. While this issue is not new, this year has been particularly relevant to the topic with EA also facing the troubled launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda this past spring, highlighting the struggle of delivering players a worthwhile experience that also sells.
Microtransactions, a solution to this problem with a way to bring in revenue beyond the initial price point of a title, offer a way to mitigate financial loss while also giving players something in return. The recent Star Wars Battlefront II beta showcases that such methods can also receive their fair share of criticism, and the argument of what to include in loot boxes and how much they should affect the player experience is also raised.
Loftis argues, however, that “storytelling is as central to game development as it ever has been,” and posits instead that this complication does not mean the end of single player titles, but rather an evolution within the industry as to how developers approach producing these games in the future. No easy answer can be suggested here, nor can such a complicated issue be resolved by any one studio. Undoubtedly single-player games will remain a cornerstone of the industry in some form, but who makes them and how they do so will be something to watch as time goes by.
For now, a slate of single player titles is still on the horizon, and the Xbox team will be focused on the launch of the Xbox One X on November 7. As the newest console, the system will support past single-player titles and be able to showcase just what this new frontier of single-player games has in store for the industry.