"Game development in general is about a couple of things. It's about delivering an experience and it's about telling stories. Storytelling is as central to game development as it ever has been.”
- Xbox publishing head Shannon Loftis weighs in on the state of single player games
The viability of single-player games has been up for debate for a while, but it has become a hot topic as of late following EA's closure of Visceral Games and refocusing of its previously linear Star Wars game.
But does the closure itself mean that the end is nigh for single-player-focused experiences? Xbox's head of publishing argues that single-player games have a future, but it could be an economically complicated one.
In a conversation with Gamespot, Xbox's Shannon Loftis weighed in on the issue and said that, while single-player games aren’t dead, developing one is becoming somewhat of a risk.
She explains that, while single-player may become less popular years down the line, she doesn’t believe such games will ever disappear completely. Part of this, she argues, is because pouring money into a graphically appealing, story-centric game can be a risky move for game developers and publishers.
This economic uncertainty is part of the reason lootboxes and microtransactions have started showing up with higher frequency in both single and multiplayer games like Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The more microtransaction-friendly game genres can allay some of those fears, since developers and publishers don’t only have to rely on sales of the game itself for revenue.
"I don't think that it's dead per se," Loftis told Gamespot. "I do think the economics of taking a single-player game and telling a very high fidelity multi-hour story get a little more complicated. Gamers want higher fidelity and they want higher resolution graphics."