A few days ago, Xbox Division head Phil Spencer mentioned in an interview that big story-driven games don’t have the same impact anymore, with titles like Horizon Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild doing really well, but the genre generally being not as consistent as it used to be, because big service-based games are capturing a large slice of the audience.
Of course, the quote has been bounced around the entirety of the internet, with several media outlets presenting it with as little context as possible, passing it as Spencer believing that Horizon and Zelda don’t have impact, or that he’s giving up on single player games.
On the other hand, Spencer was simply explaining that large story-driven games tend to have less impact from a business point of view, and that it’s a difficult business decision for development teams and publishers to dedicate as many resources to them as they used to in the past, which is entirely reasonable, albeit regrettable.
Between yesterday and today, he took to twitter to explain his point of view, mentioning that he loves single player games, but the majority of play nowadays is done on service-based games.
Spencer was not implying that xbox would focus primarily on PvP games (and he himself is more of a single player gamer than a PvP-oriented one), but just making a point on the state of the industry. As a matter of fact, he wishes single player games to be successful, and intends to find tools and models to help in that, listening to developers on what platform holders can do to support their business.
For instance, Spencer sees the possibility of business models like Xbox Game Pass helping with story-driven single player games, and the program was designed hoping for this to happen.
There is interest from single player, story-focused studios, but the program needs to be launched first so that the company can learn from it.
He also clarified that he thinks that Horizon Zero Dawn is great, and he’s not downplaying Zelda, which he played during his whole recent flight to the UK, mentioning that while some try to turn everything into console wars, he doesn’t. During the interview he brought up Horizon and Zelda not because they were made by competitors, but simply because they were the most recent high profile single player games released. While many assume that platform holders dislike each other, they talk, interact and share games. For instance, Sony sent Spencer the Collector’s Edition of Horizon Zero Dawn.
According to Spencer, in fact, he gets along well with SIEA President Shawn Layden, even if they’re competitors in the market and he obviously wants to win that competition.
Spencer then explained that game diversity is good for him, and he doesn’t want convergence in games. He wants choice. He likes single player and co-op, while others like PvP, and it’s good for all genres to succeed so all have choices on what they want to play.