A few years ago, developers were tacking unnecessary multiplayer games onto their single-player titles. Nowadays, they’re leaving single-player campaigns out of their games in favor of a multiplayer-focused experience. Whether it’s Titanfall, Rainbow Six: Siege, or Star Wars Battlefront, games that previously had strong campaigns, or came from production houses known for strong campaigns, are going without. It turns out, there’s a reason for that!
Gears of War and Unreal Tournament creator Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games and now of Boss Key Productions, spoke to PC Gamer and explained.
“Campaigns cost the most money. It’s usually 75 percent of the budget,” he said. “You turn through the campaign in a weekend and then you guys go to the multiplayer.”
It makes sense – a campaign usually gets one or two playthroughs. Things like actors, composers, and directors cost money, as does the process of designing the series of unique, expansive environments necessary to create a satisfying experience. And then all that stuff requires tons of testing and fine-tuning to be a fun, tight experience.
Alternately, the team could concentrate on some multiplayer maps which, even at their largest, will only be a fraction of the single-player space, and be used for countless hours by players. Some of the time and money spent on all those cutscenes and the like can be spent on improving and iterating the multiplayer experience to provide a better, more entertaining product. You end up with a lower-cost product that delivers better on the time spent making it versus the time spent using it.
That doesn’t mean single player games should go away – they’re my favorite gaming experiences, and I’d struggle to find new experiences without them. But when the market you’re looking at is so heavily multiplayer focused, like the shooter market Bleszinski’s upcoming Lawbreakers is diving into, it starts to make sense why certain elements go missing.