Just Cause dev: Story-driven AAA games make no business sense

Avalanche Studios founder says exceptions exist, like The Last of Us; 18 percent of players finished Just Cause 2 story missions.

Story-driven AAA games generally make no business sense, according to Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios founder Christofer Sundberg. An overall narrative is important, he argued, but providing player autonomy for the experience trumps.

Writing on Twitter, the designer offered up the question: "Why should a game have an end? Why bother about story when all data proves that players don't care?"

"6-12hrs story-driven AAA games makes no sense commercially any more," he said.

Some exceptions do exist, he said, like Naughty Dog's The Last of Us. But overall, he claimed that data has proven that players don't care.

"Story missions are not important," Sundberg added.

One example he provided was that of player engagement for his studio's 2010 open-ended sandbox game Just Cause 2. He said Avalanche Studios spent 3-5 months creating the game's story missions, but just 18 percent of players completed these.

One Twitter user posed a question to Sundberg asking if he thinks a game could get stale if there is no end; that is, if a player never reaches the conclusion, will they feel satisfied?

"Depends on what game you are making," Sundberg said. "Never underestimate the player's urge to grind."

Sundberg ended his comments by saying though he enjoys story in games, he doesn't see it being a part of successful games moving forward.

"For the record: I love a good game story. I just don't believe in it for the future," he said.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Just Cause 2

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