Why does Microsoft hate single-player games? – Reader’s Feature

A reader is suspicious of Microsoft’s plans for Fable and Forza Motorsport and thinks they’ve given up single-player almost entirely.

I’ve noticed a lot of Reader’s Features recently have been starting with a phrase similar to, ‘I don’t want to have a go at Microsoft, but…’ I guess they don’t want to be seen as fanboys, which is fair enough, but I think we need to recognise that Microsoft are on the edge of disaster here and no-one should want them to fail because a gaming industry with only Sony and Nintendo in it is going to be worse for everyone.

But I’m not here to talk about Halo Infinite’s terrible graphics, or the inept way that Microsoft has been communicating their next gen plans so far. Instead I want to talk about something that’s going under the radar at the moment: the fact that Microsoft is trying to turn all its games into games as a service titles.

Like most of the important details about Halo Infinite, the fact that it’s not a standard video game release, but a live service game that’s meant to last 10 years, like Destiny or World Of Warcraft, is something most people, in my experience, don’t realise. There’s not going to be a Halo Infinite 2 or a Halo 6, this it for the whole of the next generation.

The game will be updated and added to, like Street Fighter 5 or Warframe, including presumably the story campaign. And now, thanks to that leak from Smyths, we know that the multiplayer is actually going to be free-to-play, complete with a battle pass and customisation options to pay for it. This doesn’t surprise me in the least, in fact it only underlines the points I was going to write about anyway: that Microsoft is no longer interested in single-player games.

This has been clear all generation, with Microsoft clearly drawn in by the allure of subscriptions and games that never die, which it seems to have convinced itself is the future of gaming. Despite the industry already being littered with failed attempts at copying Fortnite’s business model, just as everyone and their dog thought they could copy World Of Warcraft back when it was new.

It made me recall a GC interview with Microsoft’s Matt Booty, in which they asked him point blank why they made so few single-player games and why Microsoft execs had been implying that single-player games were no longer profitable. This, despite so much of the PlayStation 4’s success being dependent on single-player games and even EA, who had been talking in similar terms a year or so before, going on to have huge success with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

There’s been no turnaround for Microsoft though, they’ve doubled down on the idea that single-player games have had their day. In fact, they seem to have an almost nihilistic view of the entire traditional games industry, with their promotion of Game Pass and cloud gaming. Not that things like Game Pass aren’t a positive thing but it almost feels like Microsoft has decided that because it can’t beat Sony at its own game it just won’t play anymore.

It’s not just Halo Infinite, you see. The latest rumours suggest that the new Fable isn’t really a sequel or a reboot but an MMO. And did you wonder why Forza Motorsport didn’t have a number at the end of its name? The reason seems to be because it’s also a games as a service title and there’s never going to be a Forza Motorsport 8.

The only single-player, first party Xbox Series X games so far seem to be Hellblade 2 (presumably, we know nothing about it) and Avowed (again presumably, since it seems to be a Skyrim clone). We also know nothing about Rare’s Everwild but the prominence of what seems to be four player characters in the trailer suggests it’s primarily multiplayer. There’s is Tell My Why, but that’s by Dontnod and Microsoft don’t seem to be doing anything other than publishing it.

Microsoft’s view of the future of gaming seems to be radically different from Sony, which in a sense is a good thing. Except that it’s also radically different from what I want from a game. Destiny bores me to tears and the very last thing I want is to be playing fundamentally the same game for 10 years. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse.

When Microsoft talk about this sort of thing it’s always with the excuse of nurturing communities and giving players what they want, which seems to be code for fleecing them for microtransactions. Game Pass may provide every game for ‘free’ but that doesn’t mean they can’t make money off DLC and game passes, and all the other parasitic schemes companies have come up with this gen.

Microsoft’s stumbled attempts at promoting the Xbox Series X is just one example amongst many that surprisingly little has changed at Xbox since the disastrous start of this generation. They still see the future of games as online-only titles that you have to be plugged into 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Someone sitting down to play a single-player game for a couple of hours a day isn’t going to buy a battle pass, so they’re not interested. And as a result I’m not interested in them.

I’m not angry though. It’s no business of mine how they choose to run their affairs and I have a very obvious alternative in Sony, who offers me exactly what I want and without all the half-truths and incompetent reveal events. But I still feel upset that, as it stands now, Xbox Series X has nothing to offer me. I loved owning my Xbox 360, but at the moment I wouldn’t dream of ever buying an Xbox Series X.

By reader Cochrane


This Reader’s Feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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