In a debate commissioned by Polygon between Amy Hennig, previously from Naughty Dog and Visceral Games, and Sean Vanaman from Firewatch’s Santo Campo we got an insight into how the two see modern games development.
In the extensive piece, the two developers kick things off talking about the difficulties of getting back into the swing of things after a holiday break and how early game trailers don’t reflect the end game, more what the end game could be.
Hennig then dives into the problems she, and other developers, face when making single-player games and meeting the demands of players within a budget.
Obviously what happened with our Star Wars project didn’t come out of the blue … there is a real problem: this line we’ve been running up to for a lot of years, which is the rising cost of development, and the desires, or the demands even, of players in terms of hours of gameplay, fidelity, production values, additional modes, all these things. Those pressures end up very real internally. If it costs you, say, $100 million or more to make a game, how are you making that money back, and making a profit? And the $60 price point can’t change, right?
Hennig and Vanaman then discuss how two million units sold for Santo Campo is acceptable while a game like Tomb Raider selling the same number of units would be deemed a “failure.” Hennig goes on to point out that while the Internet is full of players saying they want single-player story-driven games, those don’t necessarily convert to sales. She goes on to question whether single-player games make business sense when a story-driven title could be amazing but only have one playthrough value to it. To that point, she asks
Well, why would anybody buy this if they can just watch somebody play it?
The two go back and forth bouncing their experiences off one another and is an interesting read to see how the developers see the industry and the future of the market. Check out the full debate between Amy Hennig and Sean Vanaman over on Polygon.