Written by Jonathan Lee, October 29, 2017, 9:00 AM. Tweet to: @Writerscube
EA Gives Visceral Games the Ax, Now the World Watches
It’s hard not to pay attention to EA after they just put an end to Visceral Games, the studio popular for the Necromorph-plagued Dead Space series. Visceral Games had been on its way in developing a new Star Wars game that was meant to have been a single player linear-adventure, not unlike that of titles like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Unfortunately, those aspirations would never come to fruition when this month, EA shut the studio down.
Now, by this point, we’ve learned that EA is pursuing a gaming model that places heavy emphasis on player retention. Making the player return to the game a lot more than just once. One need only look to Bungie’s popular Destiny and Destiny 2 to see how money can be continually raked in when a game is made to encourage player transactions. That’s not to say it’s the only game, but from what I’ve seen so far, Bungie’s done an excellent job so far in pulling players in, and keeping them. Another good example would be any number of popular MMO games that have in-game real money transactions.
So, it makes sense that EA will want to cash in on this method. Why not? They’re in the business to make money. It’s sad, but it’s true. I remember the days when I played on my 3DO system and I used to see the Electronic Arts logo intro pop up. I remember when the company wasn’t so over-the-top ambitious for the bottom line. But times change, my friends. And EA is continuing to change with it.
Or is EA really changing?
Let me rephrase, I think EA is continuing to help change how everyone else changes. While EA didn’t begin the whole big-emphasis on in-game transactions and squeezing every dollar out of the player, EA is not a small company. It’s colossal! When a big company like that does something drastic or significant to its marketing strategy, everyone in the industry is going to take notice. Some fear that the single player experience is in danger because of an industry giant making such a move.
I don’t believe the single player experience is necessarily going to get erased. I can’t see that happening because people love stories. But it’s been happening for a while, with single player games still having some form of micro transactions built into it. Take Mass Effect 3, for example. Full single player story. But a multiplayer mode that offered you enticing bonuses… for a fee. But EA saw that it worked. And they haven’t stopped putting them into their games with popular multiplayer modes. The upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 will also be sporting micro transactions for loot crates, which, riding on the enthusiastic wave made by Overwatch, is bound to be a popular item that players can buy with in-game credits, or will undoubtedly buy with their real wallets.
Single Player Lovers, Don’t Lose Hope
A lot of players have embraced the way games are going. It’s not like we’ve let these micro transactions get in the way of our love for games. And we can still enjoy them so long as it doesn’t interrupt our ability to enjoy the whole story (Oh wait. That happens a lot, though, doesn’t it?)
But for those who remain adamant that the single player experience is a sacred part of what makes video games what they are: Take heart. Games solely made for the single player experience are not going to go extinct, but something tells me that there’s going to continue being a gradual shift. A lot of the big name production companies and studios are adopting micro transactions to increase their profits. Understandably, it helps them recover from the burgeoning costs of making their AAA titles. But there will always be great studios who don’t use micro transactions. There will always be studios who make games that are exciting, compelling, and (gasp) re-playable. Heck, most of the games I play and write about (not including Destiny) are done by wonderful studios and have a very fulfilling single player experience. So the sky hasn’t fallen just yet.
The best thing you can do, if you are of the heavy-single-player-experience persuasion, is to write to your favorite studios. Encourage them! Let them know how much you love their games and stories. Good feedback always helps in its various, little ways.