Linear games are going to suffer, says Ubisoft

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Pretty much all of Ubisoft’s great big AAA games -whether single player or not – are adopting the open world approach. It’s probably a smart move on their part; the formula’s been a successful one for the company, if you look at games like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and the upcoming The Division. Not a linear, story-driven game in sight. It’s not some sort of coincidence. According to Ubisoft, the linear game is going the way of the dodo.

Linear, story-driven games are going to suffer going forward, says Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson – and one of the reasons is because of the proliferation of YouTubers and other video sharers.

“I’m really interested in emergent games and where that’s going with video sharing and Twitch,” he said, speaking with CVG’s Andy Robinson.  “I think linear story games are really going to suffer in the modern marketplace.

“They’re already super high-quality, and we’re already seeing their audiences migrate to the big open world games. If I open my friends list and see everybody on the same mission, doing the same thing… I think that’s nowhere near as strong a sales pitch as opening your friends list and seeing 40 people doing completely different things.”

And I think he’s probably right. In this new video-sharing, YouTube generation, people want to share their emergent experiences. There’s little point in doing that in games that are essentially exactly the same experience for everyone. Beyond that, there’s the value aspect. Gamers feel like they’re getting more value out of large open world games that they spend countless hours in.

It all echoes similar sentiment from Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot a few months ago.

“We think that gamers want more freedom,” Guillemot said. “They also want games that they can play for quite a while, because there are less games now. The open-world genre gives us the possibility to offer different gamers different types of experiences. We think they are better adapted to the diversity of gamers that are in the market at the moment.”

Guillemot went on to say that the open-world trend in games today is likely to continue. “It’s a trend for the industry; there will be more and more open-world games because gamers buy those games more than the others,” he said.

For the most part, I agree – but I certainly think there’s still place in this industry for  linear, single player games with a compelling, well-told narrative. I do, however, believe we’ll be seeing fewer and fewer of them.

Last Updated: October 22, 2014

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.

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