In a recent interview with The Guardian, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, recently spoke about his views on single-player narrative video games. Apparently, the Xbox boss finds that the developers who opt to go with these grand experiences are fighting a more uphill battle with gamers seeing fewer and fewer of these titles release into the market.
There’s a number of reasons as to why Phil Spencer feels that way and he’s even found a means that could potentially help developers on Xbox One with more freedom and less risk when developing these types of games. In a statement, Phil Spencer wraps up his overall thoughts by pointing to the fact that service-based games may be a large reason as to why we’re finding the drop of single-player narrative titles.
“The audience for those big story-driven games… I won’t say it isn’t as large, but they’re not as consistent. You’ll have things like Zelda or Horizon Zero Dawn that’ll come out, and they’ll do really well, but they don’t have the same impact that they used to have because the big service-based games are capturing such a large amount of the audience.
Sony’s first-party studios do a lot of these games, and they’re good at them, but outside of that, it’s difficult – they become more rare; it’s a difficult business decision for those teams, you’re fighting into more headwind.”
These service-based video games are titles such as Destiny and The Division. Developers are continuously building onto these titles giving players more content as time goes on. This business model, however, does require more of a monthly fee where developers can turn revenue through season passes, DLC, and add-ons.
This is where the Phil Spencer finds the next big wave of innovation for developers and it comes thanks to services such as Netflix and HBO.
“I’ve looked at things like Netflix and HBO, where great content has been created because there’s this subscription model. Shannon Loftis [Xbox first-party publishing GM] and I are thinking a lot about, well, could we put story-based games into the Xbox Game Pass business model because you have a subscription going? It would mean you wouldn’t have to deliver the whole game in one month; you could develop and deliver the game as it goes.”
Microsoft is currently coming towards their general release of the Xbox Game Pass, a service much like PlayStation Now from their rival competitors Sony. With this service, gamers would have access to several previously released video game titles that can be streamed for gamers to enjoy on the Xbox One for a monthly to yearly fee.
Unlike PlayStation Now, Microsoft may intend to craft new unique titles for the service. This would, just as Phil Spencer stated, give developers the ability to craft video game titles on-the-go while likely also receiving some of the funding from Xbox Game Pass.
Of course, no information regarding any big narrative titles has been announced that would make use of this potential business model. Though with both Phil Spencer and Shannon Loftis taking an interest to this subscription service plan, perhaps we can see some big announcements regarding single-player narrative titles and Xbox Game Pass during this year’s E3 event.