Blizzard's Rob Pardo, lead designer behind World of Warcraft, foretold in a recent interview the inevitable end of single-player games. His reasoning is fairly sound, for the most part, as he describes this continuing trend in the industry to "connect" with games. As such, big-budget single-player titles are becoming an endangered species, slowly going the way of the dinosaurs.
See, one major reason for this is that AAA games carry higher risk because of the money involved. As such, publishers are unwilling to really experiment with new design as indie or smaller companies would.
Of course, there's also the whole social gaming thing. Most big-budget titles now have some kind of online or social experience attached. Even single-player games like, say, Mass Effect 3 brought in an online co-op mode.
"You certainly see trends. One of the bigger trends is there's a lot of smaller games able to be created, so you are seeing a lot more innovation that isn't possible in the AAA space because of the money and the risk involved. You'll see a lot of these really innovative indie games, mobile games, social games, that people can try out and test new and innovative ideas. I think that a lot of those ideas will eventually turn into AAA games. They'll end up being this experimental hotbed of game design.
"Another big trend is connecting everyone in their games, be it a full online experience like World of Warcraft, or just being able to have a social experience with other people playing single-player games. You're seeing all these sorts of elements being explored. I think it's really interesting because it's not just about connecting someone so I can play with them. It's about how I can have a social experience around the games that I play even if it's inherently a single-player game."
When asked whether he considered these AAA single-player games to be an "endangered species," Pardo agrees, explaining that there just isn't a "great business model" for these types of games anymore. He does briefly mention piracy and game rentals as two factors publishers need to consider, but he doesn't go into much detail regarding each.
"I don't see there being a great business model for it these days. It's really sad, there's just a lot of elements out there that conspire to make those games difficult to make now. Between pirating or the ability for people to rent games, it's hard for publishers to pour millions and millions of dollars into a game and not necessarily see the return they need to make those budgets realistic."
While the mention of piracy and game rentals throws us off a tad -- both are topics of great contention -- it's difficult to deny this trend Pardo touched on. Can you think of any AAA titles in recent years that defy his logic?