Yesterday we reported that EA’s current president Frank Gibeau has elected to not put into production any game as being purely single player since stepping into that role in 2011. I will admit that, in doing so, I leveraged and misrepresented a particular quote. I wasn’t the only one to do so and the shoddy journalism led to discontent among game fans. Gibeau took the opportunity to cast into better light his statements and philosophies while speaking to Kotaku at the New York Games Conference by first stating that the goal is to have “an ongoing content plan for keeping customers engaged beyond what’s on the initial disc”, not to add a deathmatch mode to Mirror’s Edge, for example.
He went on to elaborate the particular types of game that he sees as benefiting most from this kind of treatment, as well as how it is a natural avenue for the business of gaming and its ever increasing forays into the online world. At the same time, he cautions that you can’t just copy your competitors.
“What I’m saying is if you’re going do it, do it with an open-world game that’s a connected experience where you can actually see other players, you can co-operate, you can compete and it can be social. Everything that we do, we see the telemetry coming in telling us that’s the best way to build our business and that’s the best way to build these experiences and be differentiated from others… You need to have a connected social experience where you’re part of a large community.”
He further went on to mention certain games that can be played purely as a single player experience, The Sims, Mass Effect 3, FIFA and Madden before dropping the following, altogether rather pleasing statement:
“I still passionately believe in single-player games and think we should build them. What I was trying to suggest with my comments was that as we move our company from being a packaged goods, fire-and-forget business to a digital business that has a service component to it. That’s business-speak for ‘I want to have a business that’s alive and evolves and changes over time’.
“That was more where I was coming from. That should not be misunderstood as the death of single-player games, or single-player experiences or telling stories. Narrative is what separates good games from bad games. Or great from good, even.”
Much of what he had to say is a reflection of what came to light yesterday, but his assertions on the unique aspects of the single player experience are good to read. Still, this does kind of come across as damage control, and you can’t deny that the inclusion of social aspects in SP-focussed games aren’t likely to be taken positively by many fans, even if they are optional. It’s just not the way we are.