It's well-documented that the cost of making top-tier games is rising, and that in turn is impacting consumers in a number of ways, including a move away from solely single-player games by certain publishers/studios, and the rise of microtransactions in the AAA space.
Now, in a recent interview with Polygon, former Naughty Dog developer Amy Hennig has shared some interesting thoughts on the matter. Her opinions are particularly timely when you consider that EA recently shut down Visceral Games and with it the Star Wars game that Hennig was in charge of.
"Obviously what happened with our Star Wars project didn't come out of the blue ... there is a real problem: this line we've been running up to for a lot of years, which is the rising cost of development, and the desires, or the demands even, of players in terms of hours of gameplay, fidelity, production values, additional modes, all these things. Those pressures end up very real internally. If it costs you, say, $100 million or more to make a game, how are you making that money back, and making a profit? And the $60 price point can't change, right?"
This led the developer to address the matter of the monetisation of AAA games, which most notably caused EA a headache around the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II.
"There's a lot of negative press around monetisation, loot boxes, games as a service, etc. but these things are trending now in the industry, especially for larger publishers, as an answer to the problem of rising development costs. Budgets keep going up, the bar keeps getting raised, and it starts making less and less sense to make these games."
Another concern that Hennig thinks feeds into the wider issue surrounding profitability is the streaming of story-driven single-player games:
"There is also this trend now that, as much as people protest and say, 'Why are you canceling a linear, story-based game? This is the kind of game we want,' people aren't necessarily buying them. They're watching somebody else play them online."
"When you're spending millions on a story-based game that may not be perceived to have long-term value beyond that one playthrough, the question is, 'Well, why would anybody buy this if they can just watch somebody play it?'"
Do you agree with Hennig and think that streaming has an impact on the fortunes of single-player games, or do you buy games that you've seen streamers play on Twitch and YouTube?