EA Says People Don't Really Enjoy Linear Games As Much Today

"You gotta cut the bridge when you realise you can't make a lot of money on something."

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Now Playing: GS News Update: EA Says People Don't Really Enjoy Linear Games As Much Today

When Electronic Arts closed down Visceral Games and announced that the studio's in-development Star Wars game was changing directions significantly, some wondered if this had to do with the game's more linear, single-player nature. Given the huge success of multiplayer games like Destiny and PUBG that use the games-as-a-service model, was EA re-tooling Visceral's Star Wars game to respond to this industry trend? EA CEO Andrew Wilson said it wasn't necessarily, but now EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has acknowledged that linear games are fading in popularity in the current market.

"As we kept reviewing the game, it continued to look like a much more linear game [which] people don't like as much today as they did five years ago or 10 years ago," Jorgensen said during the Credit Suisse Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week (via DualShockers).

For his part, Wilson said the decision to close Visceral and pivot the studio's Star Wars game wasn't about the game needing to have a live service element. "It wasn't about, 'This was just a single-player game [and it] needed to be a live service.' It was more about, 'How do we get to a point where the overall gameplay experience was right for players,'" he explained earlier this month.

Going back to Jorgensen, he said Visceral was trying to make a Star Wars game that "really pushed gameplay to the next level." He also acknowledged that Visceral was a "sub-scale" studio, staffed by around 80 people which is on the smaller side for a AAA game made by EA. Because of this, EA brought in teams from Vancouver and Montreal to support Visceral on this project.

EA ultimately decided to close Visceral and significantly shift the nature of the Star Wars game because "it was an economic decision at the end of the day." Jorgensen thought about how many copies the game would have to sell and he determined that EA "probably wouldn't be able to" reach that unspecified mark. "You gotta cut the bridge when you realise you can't make a lot of money on something," Jorgensen said, adding that he is a big believer in sunk costs.

Also during the call, Jorgensen mentioned that this wasn't the first time EA decided to significantly change a game. But while EA likes to do this early in the process if it can, the new Star Wars game from Visceral got further out, making the decision that much more difficult for the developers and fans alike to stomach.

Jorgensen added that EA is trying to re-assign developers from Visceral to other projects, but the wording of his comments ("we're trying to keep as many as possible") suggests that there will be some amount of layoffs in the process.

When EA announced the closure of Visceral, EA's Patrick Soderlund said its team at EA Vancouver will lead the future development on the Star Wars game. But during the call this week, Jorgensen made it sound like the game may never come out. He said EA's conversations currently are more focused on if what Visceral made can be pivoted into something new, potentially in a different style; another option, Jorgensen said, is for some parts of the game to be used in other games. Right now, EA is "trying to go through that," Jorgensen said, so it sounds like nothing has been decided on the future of the game as of yet.

One part of the decision to change Visceral's Star Wars game came down to what Soderlund described as "fundamental shifts in the marketplace." He added that EA wants to make a game that "players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come." The wording here suggests that EA wanted the game to have more of a live service element to it, and if and when it does come back, we wouldn't be surprised to see that happen.

In the wake of the Visceral/Star Wars game news, Xbox boss Shannon Loftis said she believes single-player-only games aren't dead but they do have questions to face around their economic viability.

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Avatar image for Royas

If a game does not have a single player campaign with good gameplay and story, I'm just not going to buy it, period. I understand that multi player games are popular, and that those players are likely to spend more money on the microtransactions, even for cosmetics, but I'm not ever going to be into that sort of game. I don't think I'm alone in that. I guess if it really is all about the money, it makes sense to get a lot more money from a smaller player set for less expenditure, but I'll mourn the loss of what could have been a smash hit single player game.

Avatar image for aragorn70

The shift in the market that EA is referring to is not a shift in what players want, it's a shift in what the big game studios like EA Games want to produce. They have figured out that there is a large group of gamers who do like to just play online multiplayer games, and those kind of player vs player match style games are a lot cheaper and easier to make. I, like many other players whose comments I've read on here and on Reddit, do not play the kind of online multiplayer shooters that they want to focus on. I have no interest in just running around a map shooting other players in the face. I want a single player story that I can immerse myself in, and a game that does not require internet and is not subject to the availability of a game company's servers. There are other game studios still producing such games, and they manage to turn a nice profit. EA just wants to make only cheap player vs player death match style games, and monetize them as much as they can get away with, because they don't care what players want, they only care about maximizing profit and minimizing effort.

Avatar image for DantheMan9856

EA is completely out of touch with everything. It is pretty unbelievable. I barely have the words to describe their behavior, their marketing, their philosophy. They're the DNC of video games, they talk to everyone but who they're supposed to talk to, their constituents. It is amazing how EA can say gamers love freedom yet at the same time pin people in a corner to buy loot crap. Angry Joe was too generous on BFII, should have been a 3 or 4. lol

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@DantheMan9856: Great analogy with the DNC.

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EA should play Total War, at least Shogun which i have played, EA acquiring a lot of titles and smaller developers is like attacking and occupying a lot of provinces, sure, there will be money to be made at the beginning, but having so much provinces mean having to maintain a lot of expenses, and having a lot of provinces mean having to protect a vast area especially those at the coast line, which in turn mean you will need to maintain a lot of armies(games), as soon as your allies turn on you and trade with other former allies and partners stop, you'll be surprised to see your income is already at a negative and you just see yourself as a great conqueror but one who is broke with all his subjects starving or rising up in rebellion waiting to be toppled by the new ambitious daimyo.

Avatar image for imjusme

Never knew people don't enjoy story-driven games anymore with all success of games like Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls series, Fallout, Uncharted, Bioshock, Hitman, Witcher, GTA V and its series, Portal, Dark Souls, Far Cry, Call of Duty, Borderlands, Dishonored, Assassin's Creed, Nier Automata, Wolfenstein, etc.

They should retract that statement and give a more accurate one like "people don't really enjoy OUR linear games as much today"

BF3 and BF4's singleplayer sucked a lot and was forgettable while COD MW series following Captain Price, Soap and other characters were memorable and touched gamers' hearts.

The only time i remembered any characters from BF games was when they were extremely annoying that i quit playing because of how annoyed i was of the character, specifically, "Irish" from BF4 which was whiny as hell and worst of all was annoyingly guilty of insubordination that you forget he was a career military personnel.

Although i enjoyed Crysis and Dragon Age a lot, and people also enjoyed Dead Space and Mass Effect, and i have friends who are big fans of Alice, a lot of EA's roster of games are mostly multiplayer sports games and casual non-storyline games, I don't think they have tried hard enough making story driven games to complain about the preference of gamers, maybe they should invest a little more into hiring directors, screenwriters, etc. and make more enjoyable story driven games.

EA should also stop making super-complicated game mechanics and present it as development like what they did on Red Alert 3, Red Alert 2 was great the way it was, instead of adding all sort of attachments and other game mechanics and whatnot that made the game bad(okay, maybe not "bad", but turned off Red Alert 2 fans), they should have simply updated the graphics, retained the simplistic interface and mechanics, made a great storyline, and it would have been gold.

Avatar image for NTM23

It has to be the right kind of linear. Most of my favorite games of all time are linear (though there are definitely some open worlds too). The times it's not good (and I hear EA's Battlefront II has it) is when a game shows you an environment and then when you walk there it tells you to turn back or you fail your mission with a set timer. Don't show me a place that looks explorable and then turn me away from it.

I agree that campaigns may not be the big sellers or that it keeps people coming back like a multiplayer for months on end, but they're still valuable and at least to me, the most important aspect in games. That said, I guess I am biased because I don't care about multiplayer. The only time I ever play multiplayer is when my brother(s) wants to play.

I play games to immerse myself in their world, not to run around a map and quickly shoot a human player in the face (which, in this case, is largely what EA has in mind). That doesn't mean that can't be fun, but it's not the reason I play games.

Avatar image for darkhunterix

EA needs to take a few notes from Square Enix. Still one of the least scummiest game companies. Final Fantasy 15 has given out an onslaught of free content since release and all of their DLCs have been worth the associated cost. They also launched an online mode comrades that they totally could have tacked on a micro-transaction system to but they didn't. Instead, they will launch free content updates to keep people coming back and boost interest in their newly announced season 2. This is the way to do it. Give people what they want and they will keep coming back. Not everything is about $$$ and expensive random gambling boxes are a scummy business practice.

EA is just trying to copy rockstar but they dont realize that the online component wasn't what made GTA sell so many copies. It was the great single-player campaign that brought the majority of the players to it initially. Without the great single-player, their multiplayer would have dropped with the impact of a wet noodle.

Avatar image for grnsuperman4

EA is full of it. The Last of Us is linear and is a great game. Linear games don’t make as much money. That’s the only factor EA cares about. $$$. EA isn’t getting any more of mine.

Avatar image for camverge

@grnsuperman4: Somebody better let God of War know that no one cares about linear games, because I’m pretty sure they said it will still be linear. Stupid people with their linear games to make a superior story.

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@camverge: Better let JRPG's (Western RPG's to an extent, but not as often) as a genre too. No one cares about single player linear games, right? lol That means that entire genre of games can be thrown in a fire, right? ... yeah, they say this, but it is simply to further their narrative while ignoring the entire industry. Even 'open world' games have pretty linear stories in some cases. Sure, there is more to do, but simply looking at the story there is usually no room for deviation in some of them. I suppose it is about what you consider to qualify as 'linear' though. Say what you like about any genre, but if it isn't dead, then that means there are people buying them.

Avatar image for fud_sang

I'm pretty sure Rockstar just re-released LA Noire. They certainly think there is money to be made and that game is the straightest of linear games this world has seen in the last decade. So this stigma against the single player games is probably nothing more than money grubbing game developers trying to justify frankly immoral development practices. A long time ago but of course not in a galaxy far away (zing EA and curse you endlessly), the selling point to a game for developers was how cool and creative their games were among other things. The thinking was that the really cool concepts will sell the games themselves. I do not believe this game would have been essentially remade if we were back ten years ago or even five years ago.

I see video games as a new medium for storytelling. A movie for the interactive where you with the joystick control the narrative. A never ending source of creativity. Development to me can be considered an art form. So when I hear of these money grubbing game developers who can no longer help themselves from skinning the masses, I cannot be alone in thinking these people have forgotten their roots. Those people should talk to the AA developers reporting they remortgaged their home and struggled so hard then finished the game and are now in the money. Were those people thinking about putting in microtransactions so you can buy the second half of the game you already paid full price for? Or were they just looking to make a game good enough that they will survive making it? With those questions asked i give the Cuphead review and the Star Wars Battlefront 2 review side by side and rest my case.

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Cuz EA knows what the people like. lol more like they realized they couldnt milk linear games with DLC and loot boxes.

Avatar image for infiniin

Talks company who puts RNG system in their games nowadays. Obviously people won't like it any possible way, because of EA greediness and it's worshippers.

Avatar image for Flyin3lvl

erm didnt x box / ms or phil spencer make a statement like this couple months back?

and then we typed in the comment section a selection of games that had no multi player

i remember typing - horizon and zelda says hello

*looks at this comment section*

history indeed does just keeps repeating it self

Avatar image for jagdedge124

Well if they acknowledge that, why are there Campaigns on BF1 linear garbage and a waste of time? That Battlefail 1 campaign was the worst BF campaign i've ever played, and that came AFTER the backlash of no campaign on Battlefront.

I mean BF hasn't had a great campaign since Bad Company 1. That was open world, but they haven't come out with another one since. BC 2 was okay (but much more linear), and it just kept going downhill.

At the same time though, i'll give COD credit where it's due. They come out with great campaigns, and did it again, and that's certainly linear. But BF is about open world, and their campaigns are not, so i just don't understand.

Anyhow, that EA just lost THREE billion, and they can just as be on their way out of business if this goes on.

They just better stop the crap looking to watered down awful games and make money thru these back end practices, and start putting MAJOR dollars into quality games. Bring Spielberg back from Dreamworks Interactive and bring back the old Medal of Honor or something.

Avatar image for ravset

Yeah, I guess that what's left for us is to keep on supporting indie companies. I think that the AAA industry is too extreme and greedy. They are molding the market because 3 million copies sales is a failure for their standards, they need to increase their profits in a constant basis, and the only way now is with the games as service model.

Linear games will always be a success, but after it's sold, there's nothing else to gain from them. So, cheers to the indie market and their amazing original games.

Avatar image for arithonuk

I love being told what I like.

Well EA, I don't like overpriced bug-ridden and incomplete games weighed down by marketing costs and comprising of 60% unskippable cut-scene and only 40% game. These so-called "AAA" titles with their blistering purchase prices, micro-transactions, blocked modding, zero LAN support and dependence on servers they'll switch off next year.

I don't think I have bought a single "big" game in the last three years. My last two purchases were FTL on Gog.com and "Gorn" in the Steam Sale. I might pick up Prey once it's hits sale price at Christmas, but only because it is a single-player game.

EA still think making a good game is made by throwing money at it, then blame gamers for not buying what they shovel. Clearly losing $3.1BN from their stock value has taught them nothing.

...I sense a disturbance in the Force, as if millions of gamers cried out for next year's Golden Turd award to go to EA (again).

Avatar image for bonkdacarnivore

So basically what he's saying is because they couldn't continue to bleed the consumer with microtransactions, it wasn't worth their time.

Avatar image for TenraiSenshi

They speak of the two formats as if they are mutually exclusive, when the truth is that they are not. You can make a great single player game that also has multiplayer added, and do incredibly well. Just look at GTAV as a great example; it was one of the top selling games of all times with sales numbers that embarrass both BF games put together.

People really just want great games to play, that is all.

Avatar image for oceanvagrant

I dont even play multiplayer anymore and haven't seen about 2010. I am SP offline only and off the top of my head for this year (or 2016 release but played this year...)

- Uncharted Lost Legacy

- Final Fantasy XV

- Dishonored 2 & DOTO

- Resident Evil 7

- Valkyria Revolution

- Crash Insane Trilogy

- Zelda BOTW

- Mario Oddyssey

- White Day

- VR games like Robinson, Farpoint, Here THey Lie

- Wolfenstein 2

- AC Origins

- Yooka Laylee

- and more!

Avatar image for Ranger1086

People don't like story driven games? I think the Uncharted series, Last of us, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Dark souls series, Witcher series. Would have something different to say. Some of those games have won multiple awards.......only award EA wins is shittiest company

Avatar image for Royas

@Ranger1086: End that comment with a mic drop, awesome.

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@Ranger1086: Upvote for that epic ending to your comment lol

Avatar image for Ranger1086

@darkhunterix: *tips hat* :)

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@Ranger1086: Haha. Wasn't expecting that ending there but your comment scores a major and valid point.

Avatar image for Ranger1086

@Keaze_: *Bows* :)

Avatar image for burtonboy05

Jesus how out of touch are these flogs? SW fans want something with depth, something with a killer story, and that is something you're run and gun lite BF2 can't offer or will ever offer. If they (fans) dont want a liner sp experience they're certainly not wanting the shit you're dishing up at present hahaha. I bet if they put out a game like kotor they would cream it.

I mentioned it in another article- this is the result you get when you start getting accountants and business analysts involved in the game development stage. Jorgensen wouldnt appear to know his arse from his elbow based on some of the shit he's been dribbling to the press.

Im not sure how you could take a game like 2015 battlefront which was ok but clearly had many negatives highlighted by fans and press alike as being a shallow experience then go on to royally eff up the sequel? Wonders never cease to amaze.

Well played EA well played.

Avatar image for magnusopus

We should really be questioning why a bean counter CFO is commenting on gaming issues. They only think in balance sheets and dollars and cents, not actual gaming experiences.

As an actual gamer, when I am sinking the hours into Persona 5 or any other linear experience, the Blake Jorgensons of the world are the last thing on my mind. If it is highly crafted linear experience with stellar storytelling based on a popular franchise, who is a CFO to say whether an "unspecified number" of copies will sell. especially when their bs of a game Battlefront 2015 far exceeded their expectations and it was a joke. Imagine how many copies of a Star Wars game would sell if it was ACTUALLY good?

As usual EA shoots themselves in the foot getting a CFO to be their mouthpiece for gaming issues. As someone who works in the finance/accounting industry, someone like Blake is the LAST person you want talking about quality and gaming issues as they are always wanting a clean profit and loss and will cut as many corners as possible for maximum profit.

Avatar image for m4a5

I mean, they messed up Mass Effect, what do they know?

Avatar image for korno96

I mean, I have to hand to EA on this one guys. People really just don’t like linear games anymore. The evidence is everywhere! That’s why uncharted made 3 sequels! It just wasn’t popular enough! That’s why the last of us sold millions of copies! People just didn’t enjoy it or recommend it to their friends! And last but not least, it’s why battlefront 2 had a linear campaign. Just wasn’t popular enough. EA, give me a break. Jesus Christ.

Avatar image for edwardnygma

@7tizz: You are exactly their target audience. Mindless round after round of the same 8 maps with a bunch of screaming 12 year olds. Enjoy!

Avatar image for khanwashere

@7tizz: That's what everyone with A.D.H.D. says.

Avatar image for bonkdacarnivore

@7tizz: One day, you'll realize that you're paying $60 to have developers give you 1/3 of a game and tell you that you have to go make your own fun rather than have it provided to you.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@bonkdacarnivore: I mean, he is the Xbox target audience personified, is what he just said really surprising? Explains why the Bone failed too.

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So we’re definitely gonna be getting republic commando 2. And bounty hunter 2 right. And the actual battlefront 3

Avatar image for ballashotcaller

way to waste Amy Hennig's talent

Avatar image for myrmecophagidae

E3 2019: EA announces Star Wars Battle Royale.

Avatar image for ello432

Hate to say it but he's right. Other than a Few exceptions the trend for linear games has been on a downward spiral. Bethesda's linear games like Doom, Wolfenstein and Prey don't sell as well as the open world Fallout and Elderscrolls. Nintendo scaled back the linear experiences in BOTW and Odessy for more open worlds, Final Fantasy went open world in 15. Resident Evil went more linear with 7 and it sold poorly compared to RE6 . really only Uncharted and Pokemon are the only Linear non-open world games to sell over 4 million in the last few years

Avatar image for darkhunterix

@ello432: In regards to your "really only Uncharted and Pokemon are the only Linear non-open world games to sell over 4 million in the last few years"

Resident evil 7 has sold over 4 million and closer to 4.5 million. It will likely pass 5 million with the gold release. So uh... checking facts sometimes helps for examples. It also did not sell poorly:

RE6 is #1 at 7.8M ( 6.8M PS3/X360 and 1M for the officialy listed Remaster ) RE5 is at #2 sold 7.2M , and RE4 is nearly at 6M ( 2.3M PS2 , 2.0M Wii and 1.6M Gamecube ) RE7 isn't far behind at about 4.5million and is in the top 5 resident evil games and this isn't out of 7 either. There were 2 revelations games, dead aim, umbrella chronicles, dark side chronicles, resident evil mercenaries, Operation Raccoon City, Code Veronica, Survivor, resident evil 0, resident evil outbreak 1, resident evil outbreak 2, and umbrella corps.

So Resident Evil 7 did really well, they just had unrealistic expectations of a 10 million dollar rake in. The game took nowhere near that to make its a corridor tight game. They still made major bank on even 5 million.

Avatar image for ello432

@darkhunterix: Your assuming I didn't include RE7 because I didn't know it sold over 4mill and that's wrong, I chose not to include it. WHY? It's impossible to tell when the majority copies were sold on ps4, if the game sold on its own merit or was bought for the VR experience being one of the first AAA VR games and one of very few VR games at the time for the PSVR. So did it sell well because its a good game or did it sell well because people needed a game to justify owning a PSVR when all they had at the time were tech demo games?. Im not knocking its sales but its also not a traditional single player linear when it has the VR component as well

Avatar image for ballashotcaller

@ello432: Yet it's also why Bethesda remains in a good light among gamers. Doom is a big success for what it is. Critically and commercially. Wolfenstein is good but not pushing as many copies since it's smack in the middle of heavy hitters.

Avatar image for ello432

@ballashotcaller: so Wolfenstein a single player linear game is not selling well do to heavy hitters like COD, destiny, odessy and FIFA kinda proves his point correct dose it not ?

Avatar image for ravset

@ello432: yeah, sure. But the real problem here is that the world is reaching a very dangerous peak. Every company, not only gaming ones, wants infinte profits rise, and that's not good. I honestly think that the sale standards for the AAA industry is extreme. 10 million copies sale is something really hard to achieve for any type of game. So if a games sells 4 million copies it's a failure, that's just crazy.

Avatar image for ello432

@ravset: your right, when a company is legally obligated to make as much money as it can, the market changes and not for the better and the infinite profit attitude is not healthy. But from their business standpoint the numbers shows a decline in sale with a few exceptions for linear games. its not that they don't sell but compared to the open world format, open world games sell more units. open world also happen to be much more exploitable for micro transaction compared to linear games. Game sales show we want open world games over linear no matter how many time we say were sick of them or sick of ubisoft doing them, the sales numbers say otherwise. 10 million is not that hard to achieve anymore lots of multi-plat games break the 10 mill mark now, COD and FIFA do it yearly. considering the average mutliplayer shooter and open world game sells around 4 million units and the average linear story games sells about 1 million, under 4 million kinda makes it a failure when it dosent sell as well a generic multiplayer shooter or open world game would

Avatar image for Ultima_Dragoon

EA might be the only ones saying it, but it feels like everyone is applying their philosophy where they can. Even Naughty Dog, who makes some of the best linear games, adds an online multiplayer to The Last of Us and Uncharted with lots of microtransactions, granted those games feel like full games even without the multiplayer aspect unlike something like CoD.

Avatar image for wowgrandpa

meanwhile on mobile, EA/Disney is actually MAKING A KILLING with Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (2 years running now, highest grossing game on mobile by a massive amount) with their p2w pvp, predatory gambling, and severely overpriced store items.

it is a fun game, but omg the amount of money you'll need to unlock that stuff...

you though SWBF2 was bad? (was $240 to unlock Vader in cash shop before 75% reduction) ...well the mobile game is just as pricey, but there's 100x more things to spend money on. and much of it can really only be acquired via throwing several hundred dollars at the screen per hero.

you know that news article about Activision going for copyrights for p2w mtx match-making formula, but they have no games currently using such a formula...

Well, EA/Disney have already been using it for 2 years here.

Avatar image for wowgrandpa

actually, the problem is that publishers aren't gamers. they're corporations answering to shareholders, who are also not gamers...

plenty of people would rather play a short linear game that has a full beginning, middle, and ending (without DLC drip-fed 3-18 months down the road to get a full conclusion that was cut out of the main game). but this conflicts with the publisher motives. they aren't in the business of making games that gamers want to play. they're in the business of making games to take as much of your money as possible. if you just can't sell such a game for $60 PLUS SEASON PASS... then they have NO INTEREST in making such a game. the fault is on the publishers, not the gamers.

and a problem is that most games are now "open world" but in a lazy and uninspiring way. they are bloated with side activities and do not put enough care into the main gameplay/story/proper ending.

its not good value if you end up quitting a game before the ending, because you get burned out on grindy repetitive tasks that hijack and define the gameplay.

the only game i can think of that really pulled off the non-linear design is The Witcher 3. beyond that, no other publisher has even bothered trying to craft a game so worthy of our time and money. period.

i'll spend 200 hours in TW3 because it is good. but i can't spend that in any Ubisoft/EA/Activision open world game, because the games are just completely VOID of inspiration. so without that, you can expect people to feel like their money was not well-spent, given they quit before reaching the ending, and feel the game was forgettable, other than all the complaints they have with the lack of satisfaction.

when the business model is always microtransactions and post-release profits... then all the games from these publishers feel the same and not memorable in a good way. publishers are stuck thinking short term profits, and they don't see they might be causing the next industry crash, because they put short-term profits over absolutely everything, because they think we do not have the voice or power to change sales or business tactics...