Game developers in today's market are being challenged to find ways to avoid seeing their titles in bargain bins at retail. Having a long tail is an important factor in any game's success, but big budget single player titles definitely are running into trouble. Blizzard's Rob Pardo, executive vice president of game design and lead designer on World of Warcraft, doesn't think single player games can survive.
Speaking to GamesIndustry International in an in-depth interview, Pardo agreed that single player has become an "endangered species" that probably won't last much longer. "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," he told us. "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."
Indeed, that's why we're seeing more and more titles that normally would have been left as single player affairs receiving tacked on multiplayer modes. If a game can hook a player into its online mode, then that title is less likely to be traded in or rented for several months.
Of course, there are some exceptions of hot selling single player titles - Bethesda's Skyrim perhaps being the most notable example - but not everyone has the skill and development capacity to create a game on Skyrim's scale.
Elsewhere in the interview, Pardo talks about the upcoming console generation probably being the last, he discuss free-to-play and cloud gaming, and he offers his opinion on how new genres will appear "that you can't imagine yet." It's a wide-ranging interview that covers a lot of ground, so be sure to check it out.