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Jade Raymond on Single-Player Narrative Games: "They're Definitely Not Dead"

An excerpt from our interview with the founder of EA Motive Studios.

News by Matt Kim, .

Are Single-player narrative games dead? EA Motive Studio head Jade Raymond certainly doesn't think so. At least not from our interview this week where one of the things we talked about was the future of single-player games in 2018.

At GamesBeat Summit 2018 I had the chance to speak with Jade Raymond after she gave a talk on building Triple-A studios. Raymond led to the creation of Assassin's Creed at Ubisoft and is now heading her own studio under EA with Motive.

After a year where companies like Square Enix declared that games as services are the future, and EA's own comments to service games after the cancellation of Visceral's Star Wars game, I asked Raymond her if she thought single-player, narrative-driven games were dead.

"They're definitely not dead. I love story-based games, that's sort of what I started out in. It's what I always traditionally played," she tells USgamer. "I think there's so much still to explore in terms of narrative games and new takes on them. And I think it's something that's in a sense the holy grail of games."

When asked to elaborate on what she meant by the holy grail of narrative games Raymond tells us, "We still haven't figured out what is a social narrative-based game, or what's a story that can really exist as a service... So I think it's really exciting how you can create a story that is compelling but can continue to live."

In contrast to say a MMORPG where every player exists in a shared world but experiences the same story, it will be interesting to see how stories can evolve so that even in these social instances, a player can experience a unique and personal story.

We know that games as services have proven to be incredibly successful for companies like Ubisoft with Rainbow Six Siege. At the same time, Sony Santa Monica was able to create what seems likely to be another critically-acclaimed, single-player game with the new God of War. So we don't have to think about single-player games as if they are on the way out anytime soon. But there are new avenues of storytelling in games, and it's important to evolve narrative the same as we do gameplay.

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Comments 3

  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #1 NiceGuyNeon 5 months ago
    She's right. Single player games are about as dead as... *checks list* JRPGs just because western games took off on consoles like 12 years ago, handhelds just because your phone can play some dumb shit, PC gaming since oh I don't know the dawn of freaking time for some reason. Am I missing anything?

    Like, people in gaming don't talk about the death of things in small terms though they will never EVER shut up about that small thing's resurgence (isometric CRPGs, adventure games). Like no one makes a realistic prediction like "the era of small developers making RPGs that rival the budget of Final Fantasy is dead" they just go straight to "well, JRPGs are totally 100% certifiably unconditionally dead."Edited 2 times. Last edited April 2018 by NiceGuyNeon
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  • Avatar for Fourfoldroot #2 Fourfoldroot 5 months ago
    So EA are looking to redefine what a narrative game is so they aren't accused of abandoning narrative based games. How sad. A narrative based game is not an open, shared experience, "make your own story" game with no resolution. It's a game in which a development team creates a piece of art, with characters, plot lines etc, and the player lives that out. No procedurally generated or mass vote mechanics, no "living narrative", but an actual story with a beginning middle and end.
    That's not to say other types of games aren't valid, but they are different, so saying narrative games aren't dead for us because we are exploring putting stories in "games as a service" is missing the point of the very real fear that our narrative games are being deprioritised.
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  • Avatar for Talraen #3 Talraen 5 months ago
    As someone who loves single-player narrative games, I am very fearful of the future of the genre. Unlike previous genres that were declared dead, there's a very good reason why these games are likely to die: they can't be monetized indefinitely because stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Or on a more granular level, the cost of creating more story is much higher than the cost of creating the kind of content that can stretch games out forever in other genres. So this is less of a "we don't think people want these games anymore" issue (as were most of the past instances) and more of a "we can make far more money by making a different style of game" issue. And that's going to win out in the end at the AAA level.

    TL;DR: Companies are going to make their money, and narrative games aren't a good value proposition anymore
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