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Single-player shooter campaigns can take up 75% of budget

A common theme seems to be spreading when it comes to first person shooters in the last couple of years- they are starting to ditch campaigns. With notable examples being Evolve, Star Wars: Battlefront, Titanfall and Rainbow Six: Siege. It would also seem that Gears of War creator, Cliff Bleszinski has a good idea as to why as he explains that single-player FPS campaigns can cost a studio as much as 75 percent of its budget.

In an interview with PC Gamer, the former Gears of War developer, who is currently working on a new multiplayer shooter known as ‘Lawbreakers', said that “campaigns cost the most money: it's usually 75 percent of the budget”.

LawBreakers_Screenshot

It would seem that Bleszinski doesn't always consider this to be a great investment as he went on to say that most people “burn through the campaign in a weekend” before moving on to multiplayer. Bleszinski will be bringing this mindset into his next game, Lawbreakers, which won't feature a campaign, instead opting to go the route of being multiplayer only.

This isn't an entirely new thing, after all, multiplayer-only FPS games have existed on the PC for years. However, this is a new direction for larger Triple-A studios like EA and Ubisoft.

KitGuru Says: When it comes to huge multiplayer franchises, a lot of people don't play the campaign or at the very least, they spend twice as much time in multiplayer, so it is easy to see why studios would begin to think that campaigns aren't always a great investment. What do you guys think of multiplayer only shooters? Do you think studios should tack on a campaign to primarily multiplayer shooters?

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25 comments

  1. I’m in the minority (probably), I play the campaigns and never touch the (probably) toxic online modes.

  2. Gary 'Gazza' Keen

    To get rid of a campaign in its entirety is rarely a worthwhile move for the game itself, most of the time there’s no point in even having a game if there’s not even so much of a background lore behind it. The best thing to do imo is to integrate the campaign into a multiplayer environment much the way Warframe or The Division has/will be doing, so if you want to run it single player you can but a decent amount of the multiplayer is the campaign too with other options in the multiplayer area such as PvP.
    But like I said sometimes it can work

  3. Does that mean these campaignless games should cost 25% of normal games? A La Counter-Strike? CS:GO came out at like $12.

  4. I think I’m gonna start to avoid games that don’t have a campaign (unless I really REALLY want it, which is like 2 games a year)

  5. So why not just make the multiplayer more “campaign-like…” CoD MW3 is a great model… It already has a team… L4D had a pretty good campaign mode in multiplayer…

  6. Yeh why bother making content when you can just licence a good engine. employ a few skeleton staff and make a “multiplayer only” game.

    How long till the industry figures out this won’t work i wonder. If the last idiotic craze of micro transactions wasn’t enough, now we can expect this type of business regularly.

    Unless you are an E-sport title you can’t do this.

    Thankfully Star Citizen soon and that should sate my entertainment requirements and release me from the clutches of this overwatch/hearthstone type BS.

  7. I only ever play single player campaigns. All a decision like this will do is convince me that FPS games just aren’t worth the money anymore, and give me one less category to play. At least Square keeps putting out good RPG games can’t wait to see FF XV, and hopefully a PC version of FF VII Remake)

  8. And that’s why SW Battlefront costs 15$, oh wait…

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  10. And yet there are games like Doom where people want to play a really good single player campaign before jumping into multiplayer. Could you imagine Doom without a campaign?

  11. It’s a big minority. ^^’

  12. It certainly does take up a lot of money when you blow your cash on a few big name voice actors and seemingly little on the writing of the plot or it’s execution.

  13. Never play on-line and never will. Game developers obviously don’t know what world they live in because every poll I’ve seen so far about single-multi preferences at least 75% responses always say single player.

  14. In other words multiplayer only is a great way to make a cheap game and then sell it for the same price as you would have if there had been a single player mode.

    Had my fill of being called a Low Ping Bastard back in the days of Unreal Tournament thanks, I’ll stick to single player.

  15. SW Battlefront cost $79 here in Canada at launch. I LOL’d so hard I bought 10 different games on Steam instead for less.

  16. SW Battlefront cost $79 here in Canada at launch. I LOL’d so hard I bought 10 different games on Steam instead for less.

  17. I never even bothered with the multiplayer in Doom. LOL

  18. since you get more play time with multiplayer, i’d would want the campaign focused games to cost more.

  19. Michael Kapuscinski

    The sickening part is that this model DOES work. It’s only a matter of time before it happens to COD. Frankly I’m surprised they havent already. My issue is, yea, we play the campaign once and generally don’t hit it again, but remember all they wayback when Modern warfare came out? people weren’t talking about the multiplayer, they were talking about the campaign. Now, all you see are pvp videos.

  20. Michael Kapuscinski

    I dont need you to spend 10 million to license the voice and face of some hollywood human. Spend a fraction of that on talented no-names for all i care. I just want the story to be compelling and gripping.

  21. TBH i usually play the campaign 2 – 3 times. 1st on normal to enjoy the story and content. 2nd as a challange on the hardest difficulty. If it was good i’ll try do things differently a 3rd way again.

    I’d say for most FPS games this makes up for 60% of my playtime invested in the title.

    Some games are obvious MP winners, COD / BF4. These titles could perhaps get away with going to a multiplayer only model. For some random obscure content with no history of a working MP model…. NTY.

    The only safe content i’m fairly certain to enjoy no matter who i am is the Campaign. Taking this out is literally taking the skeleton out of the package. We all can’t be jelly fish in the world….

  22. That’s an outright lie. They spend too much on advertising and middlemen while trying to maximise profits, with little concern to what gamers want. Producers are greedy and impatient to get their money as usual.
    On the other side Star Citizen with just over 107mil is actively developing both an ambitious AAA Campaign and Multiplayer version while continuously improving assets, mechanics and back-end.

  23. I don’t necessarily think it would quite as simple as that.

    Considering a lot of the games’ assets & systems would be developed for the single player campaign then shared between that and the multiplayer portions, a big chunk of that “75%” budget would still be required for a multiplayer only release…which you’d then need to add on to the “25%” of the multiplayer only budget to get the total cost of developing the game. Then, the only question would be…how big of a chunk.

    Plus, there’s also the simple matter that these are for-profit businesses ruled by ever greater profit margins – if they can get away with reducing typical development budgets by 50-odd% but still charge exactly the same as they would have had they spent that extra 50%, they will…resulting in greatly increased profit margins with literally no extra effort on their part.

    That’s what I call a “win-win bigger” situation: reduced development time for much bigger profits.

    On the flip side of course, this could all just be me being highly pessimistic based on how a lot of companies operate. But, I rather doubt that there wouldn’t be more than a little bit of truth in my guesses.

  24. Michael Kapuscinski

    I agree with you. I usually play through the campaign that many times as well normal difficulty highest difficulty may be stealth run through. If it has co-op even better. I agree that the multiplayer on games like Battlefield are the main focus of my play, but at least with Battlefield Bad Company 2, which was the one I played the most, the single player campaign helps give context enjoyment and immersion to the multiplayer maps.

  25. Couldn’t have said it any better tbh