The Weekend Chat: Is Phil Spencer Right About Single-Player Stories?

 
 

Phil Spencer has again made some controversial comments in an interview with Giant Bomb during E3 around the viability of single-player games; having lauded games like Destiny and The Division for their longevity whilst questioning single-player experiences for their brevity:

"One of the things I worry about, and I've talked about a little bit are the single-player, story-driven games - 'cause it's hard when so much of the gameplay that happens"..."is on these games that are long and service-based, and then you get a small, single-player game, and how does it find its audience?"

So this week, we ask you:

Is Phil Spencer right about single-player games?

Are service-based games like Overwatch and Minecraft the direction our industry should take? Are they better for gamers and those who make them? After all they are immensely popular, with a lot of replay value, and they make a lot of money. Or is Spencer misplaced in his comments?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Comments Comments (46)

 
Posted by walmeister
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:09 PM
1
I can see where he is coming from. Just finished Uncharted 1, and the story driven aspect means I wouldn't replay it.
 
 
 
Posted by iludez
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:12 PM
5
While he does make a good point,games like hzd and uncharted are so good they can be played through multiple times
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:15 PM
8
Single player and multiplayer games will exist together forever.
 
 
 
Posted by cleggy
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:17 PM
15
For old fart gamers like me, where reaction times mean we get pwned on the multiplayer battlefield, single player games still reign supreme.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:24 PM
7
I can understand a business man wanting to go the way of service based games. Service based games can make a lot of money, but they have a higher risk and don't always work out. Look at Battleborn. Still, from a money perspective, they are definitely the way to go. It would be truly sad though to see that. I love a story based game, and I've played though my fav trilogy (Mass Effect) six or seven different times, with all the dlc.

I also think that if companies entirely scrapped the single player story in every game ever a lot of people would just stop playing. I buy A LOT of games on launch, but if my options were just Destiny type games I doubt I'd touch many at all.

Weirdly enough, the middle ground between these two ideas is Skyrim. Just re-release after re-release. Same game, different service.
 
 
 
Posted by Bank
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:25 PM
7
I'll say this.

There isn't enough time in life to constantly keep up with service games. I mean, we jump on a couple hours a week to do the same things with different people. Sometime you get left behind. Powercreep saves you here.

But there is Just barely enough life to finish a few single player masterpieces once in a while. They wait for you forever.
 
 
 
Posted by Xaphriel
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:31 PM
10
It's like saying we should only make movies because no one reads anymore. There's room for both in the industry; not every game needs multiplayer, not every game needs a 60 hour solo campaign.

The more people focus on how to make the 'perfect' game that makes the most money, the less likely we are to see a perfect game.
 
 
 
Posted by MadDudeHorse
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:32 PM
2
My most played game this year is Overwatch but I do love good single player games. My game of the year for 2015 was Ori and the Blind Forest and last year other than Overwatch my top games were Ori: Definitive Edition, Hue, Fallout 4 and Life is Strange. So other than the token multiplayer, I find a solid singleplayer story more satisfying.
 
 
 
hitokirix
Posted by hitokirix
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:33 PM
3
As someone that prefers Single player games I think Phil Spencer is full of sh*t if you look at the xbox ecosystem its filled with nothing but multiplayer titles he's done nothing to cultivate single player titles, single player games will always be there multiplayer will only be there as long as the player base and servers are on...
 
 
 
Posted by MadDudeHorse
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:34 PM
-
23 June 2017, 04:32 PM Reply to MadDudeHorse
My most played game this year is Overwatch but I do love good single player games. My game of the year for 2015 was Ori and the Blind Forest and last year other than Overwatch my top games were Ori: Definitive Edition, Hue, Fallout 4 and Life is Strange. So other than the token multiplayer, I find a solid singleplayer story more satisfying.
Oh and Batman: Arkham Knight
 
 
 
Posted by ironfist92
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:37 PM
9
Where's the audience for single player narrative-driven stories? Gee...idk, ask the new generation of people who are more than capable of binge-watching an entire season of a show in one sitting and getting invested in stories and characters and narrative plots there..

If you're not gonna put the effort into making a campaign then I'm not gonna put the effort into caring about your aimless repetitive game.
 
 
 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:37 PM
5
I like Phil, hes doing great things with Xbox, but can't agree with him on this.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:46 PM
-13
Phil said people don't care about 60 fps, if that were the case then why do they watch 60 fps videos on youtube?
 
This comment has been down-voted by the community.  
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 4:54 PM
-1
I have played Mount and Blade Warband, 800 hours of single player.


But.... Mods make a game last much longer than the original game, it's why people are to angry at T2 *banning* mods. Because after you finish the gta story, it's boring. and you are forced to go online (what they want) or play another game.
 
 
 
Posted by LukeB
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 5:04 PM
4
Service based games can only take up so many of a players gaming hours - they are games you return to after completing the single player games. They are the things you talk about while playing the multiplayer only titles. They are perfect to use for taking a break from mp-only experiences in order to recharge your batteries, then dive back in again.

Flood the market with service based titles, and the servers will be next-to-barren on far too many of them. Both types of games are needed - gamers will always need classic and fresh icons to love, and most of those tend to come from the single player portions of games (even those with astounding multiplayer).
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 5:55 PM
1
Shouldn't hold people hostage over comments they make, we all say dumb sh*t all the time we don't necessarily believe. I don't think these comments were controversial, they were honest and he mentioned how much he loves single player games #gain of salt.
 
 
 
Posted by 163Battery
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 7:10 PM
2
I definitely disagree with him. I don't really see how horror games or adventure games would work without a story.

Think about different set pieces in some of the games you have played and how they made you feel. The tension of the sniper mission in MW1. The heartbreak when Roman gets killed on his wedding day in GTA4. They are the ones that spring to mind for me but any gamer will have a number of those stand out moments that they remember from games. And I think those moments are more likely to come from a story, not a multiplayer.

And I 100% agree with what Xaphriel said, there is room for both.
 
 
 
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 7:13 PM
5
I like Phil but dont agree. Everyone is going to have different genres they like, there is definitely a big market for single player games - look at Uncharted... people dont buy it and play that for the multiplayer, but for the single player, same with Last of Us, Mass Effect, Horizon Zero Dawn etc. They just might be a different crowd to the ones that generally only buy and play Cod, Battlefield, Overwatch over and over again etc
Personally I find MP dominant games boring playing the same modes, same maps etc. Id much rather play a story driven RPG type single player over 20-50hours, then move to the next one.
The emphasis I guess is is replay value really that important? To me its not if I get a good story but plenty of progression (stats, skills, loot etc) over a 20+ hour experience like the SP games I listed above.
But thats me, as for the business side of things maybe thats where he is coming from - he obviously has all the access to numbers and reading the trends.
 
 
 
Posted by trun39
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 7:55 PM
3
Different people like different games :).

The way games are delivered to people now are dynamic, developers can make changes and 'make it better' or whatever. Back in the day that ps1 disc was it. The way we play is evolving but hopefully there'll be a little bit of something for everyone.
 
 
 
Posted by captain X nz
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 8:08 PM
4
Racking my brain for some xbox exclusive story driven titles with the kind of kudos you get from Horizon, Uncharted and TLOU and I cant.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 8:18 PM
6
Why not both?

Personally I'm more likely to buy single player games. But there is a huge market for multiplayer.

I think a message implying shafting single or multiplayer is daft.
 
 
 
Posted by piratemonkey
On Friday 23 Jun 2017 9:30 PM
8
God I Hope not
I have no interest in multiplayer games ..never have
also, why is it in the developer's interest for gamers to play one game over and over
rather than playing one for 8-15 hours then buying a new one
 
 
 
Posted by robmacd1
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 9:12 AM
2
Sounds like a money hungry corporate that just wants people to keep paying subscriptions, I much prefer single player games, the likes of The Last Of Us I have played through repeatedly because of it's story - the investment of the characters. Multiplayer games: build up your avatar and go shoot someone, where is the investment?
 
 
 
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 9:53 AM
4
Well, I'm not gaming anywhere as much these days, so even the short games I don't tend to replay much anymore either. (I think I'm getting old!)

But.. for comparison. Horizon Zero Dawn I've really enjoyed, and still haven't finished it (not long to go). But the combination of my lack of gaming time and the game size means I have absolutely no idea what is happening outside of a general gist of the main story. I can't remember any of the side quests I did a month ago.

Uncharted Drake's Fortune I've replayed start to finish on every single difficulty multiple times over 10 times now. (With the PS4 remaster I'd guess I'm up to 15 completions of the game). The two PS3 sequels and Vita game added would take me up to around 30 times I've finished an Uncharted game prior to Uncharted 4.

Uncharted 4, although I loved the experience, has been a total different Uncharted gaming experience for me. I managed to play all the Trilogy remasters in the six months before the game and platinum them all (two plats for each game now), but I haven't even finished my second run of Uncharted 4 yet on a harder difficulty. If you compare the game size of UDF to U4, they are world's apart..

I see as I get closer to 50, even the shorter story games I'm not going to replay that much, and platinum trophies only come from the likes of a Telltale Games game... Big open world games (with the exception of GTA and RDR) I'll risk getting lost in and never completing... and online, well I can't remember when I last played a shooter online.. I did I think two missions on the PS3 version of GTAV? (I don't think it was the PS4)
 
 
 
Posted by trun39
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 11:23 AM
2
Also how much money you have plays a big factor. Growing up we didn't have a lot of money to buy new games (most were second hand) so in order to get value out games, I'd replay the ones I really loved - and that was enough for me.

If you'd had more money then you can consume game after game - and be satisfied after one playthrough.

But I think the way young gamers are growing up now, investing money constantly (e.g. through microtransactions or subscriptions) , it is probably normal to them to consume content this way. (Throw in things like Netflix and such).

I'll replay uncharted and tomb raider forever :)
 
 
 
TronieNZ
Posted by TronieNZ
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 11:34 AM
1
I can see that. I think the blend is important. A single player story is now almost a tutorial into a game where the co-op experience vital to expand on from there. I think recent PvP or Co-op only games have struggled, as has Solo only. For it's flaws, I think Vanila Destiny set a bench mark and the only Destiny Killer in the past three years will be Destiny 2!
 
 
 
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 1:44 PM
2
Even racing games I play exclusively offline, but never online.. (you could wrap up any genre as online, and I'm never going to be interested)... But.. I'm clocking up way less hours, and not advancing anywhere near the end potential of the Career Modes.

Gran Turismo 3 the ex and I played to death. I think we had first place completions in every event except the "F1" series (use that term loosely, and the Yaris race in the final Professional Series. But prior to Forza 6 I think I last took a Forza game past Level 3 with Forza 3?.. Doing my best to give F6 a decent stab before Forza 7 comes out, and as always for a change in 2017 pace, Forza Horizon 3 keeps ticking along, but I'm a long way off most of the NZGamer names I see pop up racing the Australian roads..
 
 
 
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 1:46 PM
1
24 June 2017, 01:44 PM Reply to kiwiatlarge
Even racing games I play exclusively offline, but never online.. (you could wrap up any genre as online, and I'm never going to be interested)... But.. I'm clocking up way less hours, and not advancing anywhere near the end potential of the Career Modes.

Gran Turismo 3 the ex and I played to death. I think we had first place completions in every event except the "F1" series (use that term loosely, and the Yaris race in the final Professional Series. But prior to Forza 6 I think I last took a Forza game past Level 3 with Forza 3?.. Doing my best to give F6 a decent stab before Forza 7 comes out, and as always for a change in 2017 pace, Forza Horizon 3 keeps ticking along, but I'm a long way off most of the NZGamer names I see pop up racing the Australian roads..
Grrr... midlife lack of proof-reading, and no ability to edit. I meant Level 30 in racing games, not Level 3..
 
 
 
Posted by ModifiedSoul
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 3:29 PM
1
a mix of both would be great
theres a few games that have little bits of amazing in them

Destiny has so much replay-ability and i dont know why but it feels so much bigger than your average arena shooter (makes them feel empty and pointless)
secure the building.... why ?....
beat the other team..... why ?



Titanfall lightly touched on something very amazing, i dont know how many people actually stopped mid fight and took the time to look around while the dialogue was actually unfolding, watching a support ship jumping into our local air space and watching swarms of ships going at it above us gave the mission i had on the ground purpose
 
 
 
Posted by SkylineObsession
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 4:58 PM
6
There is, and will hopefully forever be, room in the market for 'service' games and story games. If i had to pick only one, i'd go with story games as they take you away from the world for the duration of the story.

Service type games can be a good distraction tool, but with no story usually you don't come away from it with the same feelings.

It's like reading your monthly magazine, vs a good book.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 7:42 PM
-13
23 June 2017, 04:33 PM Reply to hitokirix
As someone that prefers Single player games I think Phil Spencer is full of sh*t if you look at the xbox ecosystem its filled with nothing but multiplayer titles he's done nothing to cultivate single player titles, single player games will always be there multiplayer will only be there as long as the player base and servers are on...
I think you're full of sh*t. See how that works?
 
This comment has been down-voted by the community.  
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Saturday 24 Jun 2017 7:43 PM
-13
23 June 2017, 04:54 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
I have played Mount and Blade Warband, 800 hours of single player.


But.... Mods make a game last much longer than the original game, it's why people are to angry at T2 *banning* mods. Because after you finish the gta story, it's boring. and you are forced to go online (what they want) or play another game.
Read that as "I need to get a life".
 
This comment has been down-voted by the community.  
 
Posted by robmacd1
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 8:38 AM
5
23 June 2017, 07:55 PM Reply to trun39
Different people like different games :).

The way games are delivered to people now are dynamic, developers can make changes and 'make it better' or whatever. Back in the day that ps1 disc was it. The way we play is evolving but hopefully there'll be a little bit of something for everyone.
I actually preferred the old version of the whole game is ON the disc, it is nothing less than frustrating to put your new game into the console with great anticipation to have the message come up: downloading the latest update, 26gb ish, be ready in a couple of hours. Seriously, I just want to put the disc in and play the game:(
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 8:47 AM
-
24 June 2017, 07:43 PM Reply to Nick2016NZ
Read that as "I need to get a life".
You say that, but you tell people on the internet to get a life? hmm.
 
 
 
Posted by polarbear
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 9:08 AM
1
I totally understand his point of view. I find multiplayer so much more engaging and with more to offer than singleplayer. Its why I never understand criticism of multiplayer only games.
In saying that, I don't think Phil is bagging on singleplayer here, definitely room for both.
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 9:16 AM
2
23 June 2017, 07:10 PM Reply to 163Battery
I definitely disagree with him. I don't really see how horror games or adventure games would work without a story.

Think about different set pieces in some of the games you have played and how they made you feel. The tension of the sniper mission in MW1. The heartbreak when Roman gets killed on his wedding day in GTA4. They are the ones that spring to mind for me but any gamer will have a number of those stand out moments that they remember from games. And I think those moments are more likely to come from a story, not a multiplayer.

And I 100% agree with what Xaphriel said, there is room for both.
Just like 123Battery, in single player games, I feel we get our moments of awe. Story telling is not a dead delivery system. We get our 'experience' from the narrative, and our 'fun' from the playing it.

Multiplayer games provide us fun, like playing tennis, but the primary goal is winning or achieving. Single player games reward us with a story that keeps us picking the game back up to relive the experience. I'm on to my 6th Skyrim character, but I also play a lot GTA. I play each for different reasons.
 
 
 
Posted by trun39
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 1:16 PM
1
25 June 2017, 08:38 AM Reply to robmacd1
I actually preferred the old version of the whole game is ON the disc, it is nothing less than frustrating to put your new game into the console with great anticipation to have the message come up: downloading the latest update, 26gb ish, be ready in a couple of hours. Seriously, I just want to put the disc in and play the game:(
Yes, I prefer things working on the disc day one and no patches. I avoid downloading patches if I can.

For example, in uncharted 4, their patches have actually sort of broken the game. The game crashes at this certain point (in the single player) and you can't move forward (I've messed around with it) and the subtitles got stuffed up too with code randomly appearing, like NPC #272!
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 2:55 PM
-1
25 June 2017, 01:16 PM Reply to trun39
Yes, I prefer things working on the disc day one and no patches. I avoid downloading patches if I can.

For example, in uncharted 4, their patches have actually sort of broken the game. The game crashes at this certain point (in the single player) and you can't move forward (I've messed around with it) and the subtitles got stuffed up too with code randomly appearing, like NPC #272!
Well frankly it's not going back to the "everything is on the disc" age.
 
 
 
Talonnz
Posted by Talonnz
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 7:07 PM
1
Personally, I prefer single player and if it an engaging and awesome story ill reply it. Geez I think I replayed ff9 5 times back in the day.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 9:06 PM
-1
24 June 2017, 07:43 PM Reply to Nick2016NZ
Read that as "I need to get a life".
and considering the game came out in 2010.... don't you play old games?
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 9:37 PM
2
25 June 2017, 09:06 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
and considering the game came out in 2010.... don't you play old games?
Have you still been pondering over that one.

"Here's my response"... 12 hours later... "And another thing!"

Nicks comment is obviously daft as many of us spend many hundreds of hours playing games, but dude...
 
 
 
Posted by Meanvision
On Sunday 25 Jun 2017 10:10 PM
1
I prefer a bit of both depending on how I feel, I'm playing thru last of us at the moment and its an amazing single player, but once I finish it I don't normally replay games .I think online multiplayer has the benefit of lasting a lot longer, I spent a lot more hours on things like destiny raids/overwatch and battlefield than single player stuff, because once I'm completed the story I just move onto the online aspect of it.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Monday 26 Jun 2017 4:27 AM
1
25 June 2017, 09:37 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Have you still been pondering over that one.

"Here's my response"... 12 hours later... "And another thing!"

Nicks comment is obviously daft as many of us spend many hundreds of hours playing games, but dude...
Well forgive me for not being able to edit.
 
 
 
Posted by sakuraba
On Monday 26 Jun 2017 8:34 AM
-
I think it depends on the game, for me any sport, shooter or fighting game has to be online but rpgs are always single player.
 
 
 
Posted by sassydot
On Monday 26 Jun 2017 11:02 AM
-
I know I'm quite disappointed with the multiplayer-focus that xbox seems to have going, as I think it is at the expense of some great single-player or co-op potential. It's easy enough for me to avoid them, though, and find something else to play, I'm not lacking anything to do so will just ignore what I'm not interested in and carry on. Some of us are quite introverted, and need 'alone' time, and a good solo game works so well for that.
Multiplayer games are fine, it's just there's so damn many, and only so many gamers to go around. People seem so fickle (on xbox side at least), and jump from the newest thing to the next newest thing a few weeks later, nothing really sticks and so it's hard to get a stable group going. As much as I love the look of Sea of Theives, I don't see that I'll get it because of the investment vs playability of it.
I like games best that you can solo OR co-op the content. ESO works really well for me in that regard, and FH3 would have too, if it had been more interesting.
 
 
 
Posted by guido
On Monday 26 Jun 2017 4:39 PM
2
25 June 2017, 08:47 AM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
You say that, but you tell people on the internet to get a life? hmm.
LOL you'd think the ONE place you'd be safe to fess up to how many hours you've spent on a video game would be a video game website!?! :-D Apparently not?? There's several single player games I've spent several hundred hours on each over the years!

There's always going to be lots of single player focused games, especially now that there's DLC, in game purchases, integrated expansions, stand alone expansions, HD remasters, full on remakes, mod support etc etc all of which keep the dev teams ticking over and the cash coming in while extending the life of the game, potentially spanning multiple console generations.