Ex-Visceral dev on studio closure backlash, "The assertion that single-player linear games are going to disappear is totally absurd"
You can't make gaming one dimensional.
There's been a lot of talk and a lot of fear surrounding Visceral's unfortunate and surprise closure. Many fans and press alike have formed the assertion that an entire genre will die because of the one studio's closure, which as of right now seems awfully premature. Former Visceral dev, Zach Wilson told GamesIndustry.biz that he thinks that it's "totally absurd" to think that single player linear games are doomed.
"The assertion that single-player linear games are going to disappear is totally absurd. EA might not be the company that carries that torch, but there are so many groups out there that are passionate about this kind of game that they won't go away. Personally, I'd like to see fewer games with higher quality across the board, which is probably what will happen."
Wilson is careful to differentiate between the state of an entire genre and the future of one company. Yes, as far as EA is concerned, they are probably done making pure single player linear games. But most of gaming's history has been made up of predominantly single player games, and as the years go on, we are going to see more and more people who grew up on these titles move into more influential roles within studios and publishers.
"We're also going to continue to see developments in production pipelines that will dramatically reduce the cost of asset generation, which will benefit everyone. There's no one single narrative that can be derived from this event other than games are incredibly difficult to make, and the fact that any game or movie gets made at all is a cause for celebration."
If you've read Jason Schreier's Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, that last point Wilson makes is on the money. Making games is hard, and it's impossible for fans or press who haven't worked in the industry to accurately make such radical judgments. Games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice proved that AAA-quality single-player linear games could be made and sold at budget prices, and if the costs of development and asset generation can go down with the creation of more intuitive toolsets, then the genre can survive.
This is not to mention that Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is shipping without any multiplayer for fear of a "diluted" experience. Another point is that for single-player linear games to survive; fans have to actually buy them. Just a few days ago, Wilson had tweeted out some numbers on Dead Space 2, which is pretty widely considered to be a great game, though its sales didn't reflect as such.
On that, Wilson said:
"Survival horror is hard. Horror games in general are expensive to make and hard to sell. People would give us the feedback that they love Dead Space but don't buy it cause it's too scary. Kind of works against itself.
You can't sell games to a market that wants them to exist but doesn't want to buy them."
That's pretty much all there is to it. If you want a certain type of game to exist, you have to support it. There's no practical use in saying nice things if you don't back it up with support, which sounds harsh but it's just the reality of the business.