Tommy Tordsson Björk is the latest industry veteran to come out in defense of single-player games.
By Robert Marrujo:: It's pretty astounding how much of a response there's been to the closure of Visceral Games and the repositioning of Amy Hennig's Star Wars game as an open-world, multiplayer-focused affair. EA has opened quite the proverbial can of worms when it comes to the debate over games as vehicles for narrative-driven, single-player experiences versus online, service-focused ones that engage multiple people at the same time. While there's clearly merits for both styles of game in the world, industry bean counters seem to be leaning towards games as services as the way of the future, jettisoning linear, story-focused titles in favor of experiences that can continue to generate cash well beyond the limitations of traditional single-purchase transactions.
It's not that these sort of multiplayer titles aren't capable of being fun. After all, games like Overwatch and Destiny 2 are luring in hordes of fans and can be a merry time when done right. Still, for folks who want to immerse themselves into an engrossing narrative like in the Uncharted series or bask in zany, bonkers set pieces and grandiose visuals as in the Super Mario titles, it's unsettling to think that the these sorts of games might be going away or becoming highly scarce. Enter MachineGames' Tommy Tordsson Björk, who believes that their upcoming game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would suffer from the inclusion of multiplayer.
Speaking with GameIndustry.biz, Björk had this to say:
"The only way we can create these super immersive narrative experiences is if we can solely focus on the single-player. Having a multiplayer component in this work process would just dilute it all. That's the danger if you try to do two things at once.
We just keep our heads together, and focus on making a really good single-player game... Doing our thing is what makes the game great."
What's particularly interesting here, as GameIndustry notes themselves, is that Wolfenstein II left E3 2017 as one of the more talked about games of the show. People were digging what was on display despite the fact that there was no multiplayer mode to speak of. At the same time, there's no denying that even if a game like Wolfenstein II goes on to become a success, everything is, at the end of the day, relative. Meaning, if it goes on to sell x-millions of dollars worth of copies, that's not going to matter to a publisher if a similar game with multiplayer goes on to make xxxxx-millions of dollars because it includes loot crates, DLC, and other microtransactions that extend the lifetime and value of the title. In brief, for publishers the question becomes, why make $100 million when we could make $750 million?
Those are all ballpark figures, of course, but the root of the issue is plain: there's simply too much cash left on the table, in the eyes of many game publishers and developers, when there's no multiplayer component on hand to make the title stay in players' consoles for months and even years beyond launch day. Regardless, for those simply looking to escape and have fun with a video game, the fact that people like Björk are stepping up and essentially saying they won't budge on making games that don't bow to the almighty dollar is definitely a good sign.