One of the most influential people in video games, Amy Hennig, believes that there is a big problem with the pricing of single-player video games. Although many are ringing the death knell for single-player games, Hennig believes they are not dead yet and that a different pricing model could fix the problem.
Hennig began designing games for Nintendo in the late 1980s. Since then, she has gone on to help create some of the most beloved game franchises of all time, such as Legacy of Kain and Jak and Daxter series. Most gaming enthusiasts know her, though, for her groundbreaking work as writer and creative director on the Uncharted games, right up until she left Naughty Dog in 2014. After that, she joined Visceral Games to work on a Star Wars game, although that studio later got shuttered. She then started her own small game development studio to work in virtual reality.
In an interview with Venture Beat, Hennig spoke about her experience in game development, as well as about the future of single-player video games. Hennig reiterated that she does not believe that single-player games will ever truly go away, although some studios seem to want to move away from them. Instead, she questioned the current pricing model, which she feels actually hinders the industry and makes single-players games increasingly more cost-prohibitive.
"It’s not that we’re looking at the death of single-player games, or that players don’t want that. Some publishers are going to fall on one end of that spectrum or another based on their business plan. Fair enough. It’s just that the traditional ways we’ve done that are getting harder and harder to support. That’s why I’ve talked in the past about feeling like we’re in an inflection point in the industry. We’ve talked about this for a long time. How do we keep on making games like this when they’re getting prohibitively expensive? We don’t want to break the single-player experience, but there’s pressure to provide more and more at the same price point games have always been."
Hennig has often spoken about the importance of storytelling in video games. She believes that players will still want that, especially in an environment so inundated with multiplayer where the story seems secondary. She offered some suggestions on what game developers could focus on in the future when it comes to releasing single-player games:
"I hope that we see more shakeup in the industry. We’ll open up the portfolios — maybe with a subscription model — so we can see that there can be story games that are four hours long at an appropriate price point. We have digital distribution. That should be possible. We shouldn’t be stuck at this brick and mortar price point and trying to make more and more content, breaking the spirit of these games."
Her ideas aren't too far-fetched. Digital distribution is already becoming more popular in the industry and some analysts believe that games will be 100 percent digital by the year 2022. This saves developers on manufacturing costs, allowing them to release games in a faster and more cost-efficient way. Many small developers are already doing this. For example, last year's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, by Ninja Theory, offered a digital download that included a gaming experience of around 6-8 hours for the lower price of $29.99. That's about half of what a AAA title generally costs.
Hennig is an expert in her field and developers should take note of her words. Gamers still want single-player experiences, particularly those who love titles that are more immersed in creative stories over the typical monotony offered in the loose storylines of multiplayer.
Source: Venture Beat