Publication site gamesindustry.biz has a series of interview-style editorials that examine the process and goal of creating single-player narrative-driven video games. One of the top heads who participated in the interview happens to be Eidos Montréal boss, David Anfossi, who shares his thoughts about single-player games and more.
The publication site made mention that before Anfossi could begin talking, he was forced to apologize for the noise created by a colossal project going on around him, which leads to the first part of the interview:
“We’re starting from scratch. We have demolished everything, because we have to grow up in size. After ten years we wanted the studio to reflect the image of what we create. And to be more on par with the competition.”
Anfossi continued on and stated:
“We are adding 100 stations and developers, because at the moment we have three big productions going on at the same time.”
The publication site noted that this was interesting because the current industry belief is that “single-player narrative experiences are dying away,” since you can’t monetize single-player games as effectively like certain “multiplayer” titles.
Moreover, the conversation slightly shifted over to trends and multiplayer games and what Eidos Montréal is doing at the moment:
“Every year there is a new trend. At the moment it’s Fortnite – which is a great game – and all the attention is around these kinds of games. But we just have to wait. I don’t want to change a Deus Ex game or experience. We want to be respectful to that. There are these trends every year, or every two years. Whether it is multiplayer, co-op, MMO or single player. If you deliver the right quality experience, you will reach the audience you want.”
Anfossi felt compelled to go on about his take on story-driven experiences and what frustrates him about these types of games:
“That being said, I believe that the story-driven experience is going through a generational change. Especially for people like me, the old guys… people who are 25 or older. Looking at God of War, that’s a pretty good example of a great single-player experience. I like it a lot, but I might not get the time to complete it. For me, that’s a frustration. Because when you start a story-driven experience you want to see the conclusion. So we have to adapt and try new models.”
In addition to the above, Anfossi felt the need to give an example of how to keep players interested while playing a single-player title:
“For example – and this is just my opinion, I’m not committing to anything – let’s say that we develop a very good narrative, with a complex universe and strong characters. You start the game and then you complete it in three hours. That costs $30. That’s it. Maybe that’s the way to continue with story-driven games. You bring a strong experience, you make sure that the audience is interested by it, and that they can actually complete it.
“We always ask ourselves about that. But single-player for me is as strong as before, and it should continue.”
Although Anfossi claims he loves single-player games, he stated on the Eidos Montréal website that the company will one day place an added emphasis on the online experiences in their games.
Furthermore, the interview changed directions and settled on the expense of AAA games and the “pressure” behind it all:
“Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and other different AAA single-player games, cost $75 million to $100 million. And that’s production only; it’s close to $35 million on the promotion. So there’s definitely a pressure. We cannot avoid it. But, at the same time, for us to have these incubation projects and to try small things… that gives us the opportunity to test, prepare and secure some stuff, and remove some risk.”
As the interview progressed and settled on the expense of AAA games, Ninja Theory’s Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice made its way into the conversation, which is a game that is praised for its AAA-like graphics and low budget of being produced for around $20 million. Anfossi responded by saying:
“It’s amazing. I am playing it at the moment. It’s exactly what we said a bit earlier about trying to change the business model. I believe it is six hours of gameplay. It’s very cinematic, it’s character-centric, it’s a good experience that I like a lot. I believe they developed this game with around 20 developers. So I started to study it, because for me it’s an interesting new approach, and the result is great. It’s definitely a good way to stick with the older generations of fans of story-driven games.”
The publication site wrapped up the session by listing the current games that Eidos Montréal is working on, which includes Tomb Raider, The Avengers, and another unannounced third project. But the site wanted to know will gamers see a fully original project from the team? Anfossi concluded:
“I have been thinking about that for ten years, actually. I know by experience that it’s very, very difficult to develop a new IP. We have to be very humble about that. For me, like for every project actually, you have to find the right talent, with enough experience to tackle that. But also be able to work together. It’s a very big challenge, but I would definitely like, at some point, to try and create a new universe.”
You can read the full piece that features Eidos Montréal’s boss, David Anfossi, over on gamesindustry.biz.