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

3 min read


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

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