Xbox boss Shannon Loftis, who heads up Xbox Publishing for first-party games, believes single-player-only games aren't dead but they do have questions to face around their economic viability. Speaking to GameSpot today, Loftis said the demand by gamers for higher quality experiences comes with a price tag. While storytelling is still of paramount importance, the economics of single-player-only titles is "complicated" in today's industry due to the dramatic and constant evolution of the game market.
"Game development in general is about a couple of things. It's about delivering and experience and it's about telling stories. Storytelling is as central to game development as it ever has been," Loftis said.
There are of course strong examples of compelling single-player-only games that have performed well in the market, such as Bethesda's Fallout 4, Sony's Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Microsoft's own Ori series, Loftis pointed out. But overall, Loftis said the call for higher-quality experiences can result in a big production budget. The suggestion is that some publishers might be understandably spooked putting so much money into a project when their return is not as much a sure-thing as it could be for a product with more potential revenue streams beyond the initial game sale.
"I don't think that it's dead per se," Loftis said about the market for exclusively single-player games. "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."
Loftis said Microsoft's Netflix-style Xbox Game Pass service for Xbox One, which costs $10/month for access to a library of more than 100 games, is one method by which Microsoft can help fund single-player-only games. Game Pass "gives us the opportunity to potentially fund games like that," she said.
Retail game sales and subscription revenue--from Xbox Game Pass and other sources--"helps us put games like that in the market over time," Loftis explained.
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