Rob Pardo: Single Player Games An Endangered Species
News flash: The makers of games built around persistent, online multiplayer think that well-made single players games are soon to be a thing of the past! Ha, yeah I know. We’ve been here before, but bear with me. Blizzard’s Rob Pardo has given a fascinating interview with GI. It’s definitely worth a full read, but we were struck by Pardo’s blunt assessment of the state of the single player game:
I do. I don’t see there being a great business model for it these days. It’s really sad, there’s just a lot of elements out there that conspire to make those games difficult to make now. Between pirating or the ability for people to rent games, it’s hard for publishers to pour millions and millions of dollars into a game and not necessarily see the return they need to make those budgets realistic.
Now, with all due respect to Pardo, we ought to consider the source of the lament. Blizzard’s entire business is built around social/online/multiplayer gaming. Blizzard also joins fellow industry titans Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, (as well as Activision, natch), in openly clamoring for a world in which gamers rent, rather than purchase games, only at full price. These commenters tend to throw out big claims about the impact of piracy on the industry, but the specific damage wrought is never clarified. Until actual, concrete numbers are produced to verify their claims that it’s piracy, and not players rejecting inferior products, causing industry sales woes, I’m inclined to feel about these claims the way I do about the estimation of street value whenever the cops make a huge drug bust.
Confirmation bias, in other words.
Notably, he doesn’t discuss actual budgets, so I have no idea what he thinks is too high, but I can think of at least one example of a single player game whose sales more than justified its budget. Maybe the secret is… making great games?