“It was not really a conscious decision, it’s just what happened.”
That’s a quote from Rockstar’s Imran Sarwar when asked if it was hard to make the decision not to create single-player DLC, and instead focus on GTA Online.
I’m sorry, but at some point someone had to have made a conscious decision, right? I mean, game developers don’t just go into work and wander around the office aimlessly until stuff ‘just happens,’ right?
Somewhere along the line, they realized what they had with GTAO, that the Shark Cards were bringing in half a billion dollars, and decided that was more lucrative than a few single player DLCs.
It is a conscious decision, and it’s the kind of decision happening all across the industry lately.
I don’t see companies going where the money is as inherently bad; after all, making money is literally the purpose of companies. That is their prime directive (though I think we can all agree that there is a spectrum of sleaziness these companies can fall on in the pursuit of that goal).
Unfortunately, where the money is right now is online. The hard truth of it is, the limited profits of linear, single player titles are quickly being outpaced by rising development and maintenance costs on these AAA games. Which unfortunately means we’re now seeing big single-player titles that are three years into development suddenly “pivoted” towards more easily monetized platforms.
I know that it’s really easy to imagine the only reason loot boxes and DLC exist are because a bunch of fat, rich guys in a boardroom somewhere like rolling around naked in huge piles of cash, smoking their expensive cigars and laughing about how gullible gamers are. And that desire for larger profit margins is certainly a part of it all. But there are also underlying economic reasons why the $60 cover price isn’t cutting it anymore that we shouldn’t just brush aside when having this conversation.
As gamers we tend to demand a lot from our games. With so many titles to choose from, we gauge our spending based on how many hours of entertainment a game will provide; the more the better. We question when a game doesn’t have both a single-player campaign and a multiplayer component. We desire games that look better than ever before.
Those things have costs associated with them.
You kind of have to ask yourself, if it were your company, and you were going to spend 3 years and hundreds of millions making a game… would you settle for someone paying you $60 once, or would you rather have the guy dropping $15,000?