Single player campaigns often cost 75% of FPS games’ budget, says Boss Key Boss

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CliffyB

Class-based multiplayer shooters are all the rage again. Some are arena shooters, while others take a few cues from MOBAs. We’ve got so many coming this year that they’re all starting to blend into one another; Overwatch, Gigantic, Battleborn, and similar(ish!) games like Bosskey’s Lawbreakers and Epic’s Paragon.

If there’s one thing that really unites them all it’s that they’re mostly devoid of proper single player campaigns. Like Titanfall, Rainbow Six Siege and Evolve, they’re singularly focused on the multiplayer experience. And really, as much as we like to grumble about the lack of a single player campaign in games of this sort, it makes sense – especially for smaller developers.

Why? Because making a single player campaign is really, really expensive. In an interview with PC gamer, Lawbreakers developer Boss Key’s Clifford Bleszinski said that the campaign in a first person shooter eats up 75% of the game’s budget.

“They usually cost 75% of the budget,” said Bleszinski. “And you burn through the campaign in a weekend, and then go to multiplayer.”

Watch the full interview, where he gets a little more in depth.

There are two things that tend to happen when it comes to shooter games; the game either has an exceptional single player campaign and a tacked on, half-arsed multiplayer – or the game is built around its multiplayer, and it has a slipshod campaign tethered to it. There are very few shooter games that manage to do both well.

Back in 2013, Respawn’s Vince Zampella explained the situation well enough.

“We make these single-player missions that take up all the focus of the studio, that take a huge team six months to make, and players run through it in eight minutes,” Respawn head Vince Zampella said.

“And how many people finish the single-player game? It’s a small percentage. It’s like, everyone plays through the first level, but 5% of people finish the game.”

When you’re working for a smaller studio, or as part of a smaller team and your focus is on multiplayer, it just doesn’t make sense to craft a campaign.

“Really, you split the team. They’re two different games. They’re balanced differently, they’re scoped differently. But people spend hundreds of hours in the multiplayer experience versus ‘as little time as possible rushing to the end’ [in single-player]. So why do all the resources go there?

“To us it made sense to put it here. Now everybody sees all those resources, and multiplayer is better. For us it made sense.”

And for some, it works out. While it would have been nice to have a story campaign, Titanfall is an excellent multiplayer shooter. Other games just end up feeling hollow without something resembling a proper single player campaign – like Evolve.

Last Updated: February 1, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    Well it doesn’t take much creative input for a run&gun MP game, so it seems quite obvious that SP campaigns cost more.

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Exactly! The first part of planning a MP game is to see how streamlined it is over a network, once you’ve determined that, it’s all Pew Pew here Pew Pew there, where an SP campaign takes time, character development, story lines written by good writers, etc. of course it’ll take longer, but not everyone just focuses on the MP side of games, TW3 is a perfect example…

    • Hammersteyn

      Because MP games have five maps and the rest is DL “get in the”…
      http://weknowyourdreamz.com/images/sea/sea-07.jpg

      • Captain JJ ‘saurus

        Like Battlefront with its, what?, three maps?

        • Hammersteyn

          But it has nine game modes! Of which most people only play three.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Just imagine how awesome those 3 game modes would’ve been if they hadn’t wasted resources on the other 6!

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Or even bothered to bring out the game?! Right!? right?

      • HairyEwok

        Vast Ocean?

        • Hammersteyn

          XD

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    The first Unreal game did both very well

    • Hammersteyn

      Quake too

      • Captain JJ ‘saurus

        Yes.

    • Jan Prins

      YES! Even Unreal Tournament 1 had a superb single player side to it, considering it was meant to be multi player only…

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    And I imagine people love Game of Thrones for the dragons, boobs & battles. What’s with all that talky-talk time-wasting!? Get to the good stuff!

    You can produce a MP-only FPS because it’s cheaper for you and more profitable for you. I don’t give a shit what’s cheaper for you and more profitable for you. I care about buying a game I want to play. Your profitability doesn’t factor into my purchasing decisions.

    • miaau

      “Your profitability doesn’t factor into my purchasing decisions.” well, not a statement that I ever thought a gamer needs to make. Yeah, I get it.

  • miaau

    Master of Orion 2 has the best story of any game. Well. Let me explain.

    I would play it, and then make up a story as I was going on, about the politics of the races, the tech discoveries and all that. A story based losely on the actual events in the game. I had enormous fun doing it, using my imagination to make a solid strategy game into an AWESOME story based game.

    I get how difficult it must be to make a proper story based game like that (my stories were AWESOME to me and probably me alone). I would rather it done properly, if not that, then Destiny it.

  • Hammersteyn

    So bring out PVP games only, but then don’t leave the SP section out and still have the gall to charge $60 plus a $50 season pass. Cliff said it himself. The campaign takes up 75% of the budget so PVP games should still make money if they ask $30.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Don’t be ridiculous. If he charges less than $60 he’s devaluing games. And coincidentally making a shitload more money. But that’s obviously irrelevant.

  • Jan Prins

    But here is a tip: Cut back on some of the high dollar actors and such. Do we really need Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty???

    • Hammersteyn

      Nope, David Arquette would’ve sufficed for a COD game

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        Wow…

      • Jan Prins

        Please no.

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    Rainbow Six is dead to me. Just reading again that it’s now an MP only game upsets me.

    • Hammersteyn

      There was a R6 game? When?

      • Captain JJ ‘saurus

        That’s what I want to hear 😀

      • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

        I’ll pay R6 for a R6 game

        • Most people will still pirate it. 😛

          • Hammersteyn

            Indeed, lest my friends see that I own a copy. Also demo

  • Bioshock used more than 80% on the SP component I think. Must be why the game flopped and never became a commercial success. Neither did an unknown game called Half-Life make a company massive amounts of money.

    You are right. Please give us more amazing insights into something you clearly know about.

    • Hammersteyn

      He knows only how to make money out of gaming and cares for little else

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        That’s not true. He’s also Rince’s best twitter friend.

        • Hammersteyn

          Okay, so he sucks the soul out of the gaming industry too?

          • Coughsie

            Well I suspect he sucks many things…

      • I listen to what he has to say almost as much as I listen to Moly.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    And while we’re here, WTF wears a bow tie? Are you at a formal function where you’re required to wear one with your tux? No? Then get your pretentious non-conformist ass into the sea.

    • Hammersteyn

      I bet it’s a clip-on

    • Uhm. Bill Nye wears one with style!

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I make allowances for the elderly.

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        But that’s Bill Nye, someone who contributes to the scientific community…

      • Hammersteyn

        True, but his mom didn’t dress him for any interview ever.

        • Uhm. I take my sister out shopping whenever she is in gauteng just so she can pick some clothes for me to buy.

          I literally have no sense of style. Bathrobe + socks and plakkies forever!

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            Dressing yourself is easy.

            Dressing yourself correctly however….

          • Hammersteyn

            yes, this

          • I have 3 Dress codes.

            Work: Chinos with a button shirt preferably single colour
            Home: Bathrobe + socks
            Everything else. Jeans and T-Shirt.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            I have 3 dress codes.
            Jeanpant, sneakers, gholf shirt
            Short paaants
            Nekkid

            (edit, added third one)

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            (refresh for edit)

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            No ways, I’m not going to refresh. I don’t know which dress code you chose.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            It is safe to refresh, no pic attached…yet

          • Nekkid is okay for sleeping but I tend to have fabric between me and where I sit.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            Yes, leather seats and sweaty crack doth not maketh ayobaness

          • Indeed.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            So for work, I have the jeanpant and sneakers and golf shirt (company branded, which is nice)
            At home, no shoes, no shirt and only short pants (except winter, when I’ll grab a hoodie
            I’d LOVE to work in short pants every day

          • I work in an old school corporate environment. I would love to work in a bathrobe and nothing else!

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            I’m fortunate, own office, only one client, which is the company I work for, and root access to all critical systems so actually I should be able to come in shorts!

          • miaau

            But still Chinos? I wear formal trousers + formal shirt, with proper formal shoes. Neat.

            Edit* This dress code is by preference, by the way. Dress professional.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            I work better when my balls can breathe

          • miaau

            Well, I buy nice formal clothing, that breathes very well, thank you very much.

          • I call all greyish formal trousers Chinos. I know it is wrong but you know what they say. Tomato … Potato. 🙂

          • HvR

            Same except for the golf shirts, just normal t-shirts.

            EDIT: only jeans when it is cold. Shorts and flip flops for summer

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            Lekker!

            I like the company golf shirts though, very niiice material and doesn’t look too bad

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            You’re practically a Jedi.

          • The force will be with you … always.

          • HvR

            Just need a long pole to attract the ladies
            https://youtu.be/zIgJHtku9kQ?t=37

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            No way am I clicking on that

          • HvR

            You are missing out

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            I’ll pass, not going to spoil my special day with a potentially horrible nightmare inducing video

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            socks and plakkies….I also have no sense of fashion, but socks with plakkies just make my feet smell bad…

          • Maybe change your socks at least once a day. 🙂

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Aah, ok, so don’t leave them on until you need a chisel to pick them off?

          • Only over December. 😛

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            HAHAH! True!

          • If you don’t have to hire a cleaning crew and exterminators in January to get your place in order you did not do a gaming holiday right. :()

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            NOOOOO DON’T KILL MY ROACHES!!!!

    • Jan Prins

      DIE HIPSTER SCUM!!!!

  • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    So 75% of the game’s dev budget goes into SP, 10% into Testing and another 5% into fixing… If a game takes you a tenth of the budget to make, shouldn’t the asking price reflect that? Or is it just me? Oh, but don’t forget DLCs….

    • Pariah

      But why, when you can $$$$$$$ instead?

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        That’s what gets to me, rather than actually charge what they should, they end up inflating game prices, a COD campaign is extremely expensive to play, especially if related to this pricing scheme, but with something like an RPG, you end up paying less then $1 an hour….

        • Pariah

          Yeah its because of this that I’ve taken up the $12 a month Humble Monthly – plenty of games to keep me busy, lots of good entertainment, and its under R200 a month.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            And supporting Humble helps other people too!

  • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

    CliffyB looks like Dane Cook in that pic

    • Insulting Dane Cook I see. 😛

      • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

        Just after typing his name, I thought of that skit with the B&E

        Cracked me up

        (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it, and have a laugh)

    • Hammersteyn

      a Fat Dane Cook

      • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

        Never trust a skinny cook?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        He wants to skimp on single player but not single portions.

        • Hammersteyn

          HAHA

    • Jan Prins

      Sadly, we laugh at both. One of them for all the wrong reasons.

  • Ghost In The Rift

    Well sucks for me then, story telling of a game is part of why i’m a gamer, dude kills your best friend so i wanna know why, multiplayer gets boring real quick for me and saves me from all those online egos, looks like its back to the books for a good story anytime soon or CR Project can save me.

    • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

      Tell me about it dude. Epic story >>>>>>>>>>> silly MP

    • HvR

      Like the MP games for when I just want to chill or have less than hour to burn on gaming.

      • Ghost In The Rift

        I do that to, but tend to bend more to games like Smite, i pick a character like Zeus, cool know allot about Zeus, get a character like Sargent Ramirez and i’m like who the fuck are you…:-P

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Come for the SP, stay for the MP. He’s taking away the SP. So why would I come?

      (And anyone tempted towards innuendo can GITS while guessing what the S stands for.)

      • Ghost In The Rift

        Like GTA, play the campaign and done, cool lets try the multiplayer cause i know a whole lot about the game now and Cliffy be like fuck that just shoot shit.

  • HairyEwok

    I WANT THAT RICK AND MORTY T-SHIRT!

  • BakedBagel

    THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE WE GETTING HITMAN IN EPISODIC RELEASES….

    ._. really.

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