Big Single-Player Narrative Games Like BioShock Are Starting to Disappear, Says Ken Levine

December 18, 2015 Written by Jason Dunning

Appearing on NPR’s On Point yesterday, Irrational Games Creative Director and BioShock Creator Ken Levine talked about something he’s noticed that’s been happening this year, and something he’s been thinking about for a couple years:

The AAA, single-player narrative game is starting to disappear. You know, kind of games like BioShock. There’s fewer of them being made. The real reason is they’re very expensive to make and I think gamers are saying pretty loud and clear that if they’re going to spend $40, $50, $60, they want an experience that lasts more than 10-12 hours. That’s a lot to ask somebody to spend.

Since the release of BioShock Infinite in 2013, Irrational Games has been cut down to a small team, with Levine and a few developers working on a smaller game, which looks to be PC-only at this point.

Levine went on to say in the interview that they began an experiment after completing Infinite, which was, “‘How do you make a narrative game kind of feel like the kind of games we’ve made before, but make it replayable and make it extend and make it react to the players? Make it replayable by giving players different ways to approach the problems and really letting them dictate the experience?’ That is not a simple problem to solve.”

Clearing up any misconceptions which may have arisen from the rest of the interview, Levine wrote on Twitter:

Our hope isn’t to make a game that’s longer than 12 hours. Our hope is to make a game that really rewards you for playing it again.

I like short-ish single player campaigns & that’s our specialty. Our goal is to build small open world like Shock 2 and make it replayable.

What’s the last big, single-player narrative game you played?

[Source: NPR On Point (21:20), Ken Levine (Twitter 1, 2) via GameSpot]