While developing traditional narrative games is harder than it has ever been, Microsoft’s Xbox chief sees an opportunity in using modern platforms and tech to tell new stories
O ver the last decade, the concept of “games as a service” has revolutionised the way the interactive entertainment industry works. From the subscriptions introduced by massively multiplayer online adventures such as World of Warcraft to the seasonal battle passes of current online shooters, we’re seeing a huge amount of focus on games that can sustain a lucrative community of players over several years.
But where does that leave more offbeat ideas and concepts that couldn’t support years’ worth of play? Where does it leave the single-player narrative adventure – the blockbusting genre that brought us titles such as Metal Gear Solid, Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect? It’s a genre Sony has supported through funding the studios that make games such as The Last of Us, Spider-Man and God of War. But Microsoft has focused its efforts on cross-platform, connected games, as symbolised by the mammoth Minecraft industry. Is there still room for traditional forms of narrative games on the Xbox Series X?
“I think we’re probably building more of those now than we’ve been in the history of Xbox,” says Xbox chief Phil Spencer. “Platform holders, whether that platform is subscription or a hardware device or a store, are actively investing in new and probably more risky things, because, if it works, we get value out of bringing players into the ecosystem.”