When Craig Duncan and his team at Microsoft's Rare Video Game Studio were dreaming of their next big game. They imagined a world where people and their friends create their own stories while playing.
"It's your mark on the world," Duncan said. "The fundamental vision is for players to go on adventures together."
This idea has been transformed into Sea of Thieves, a caricature pirate pirate game in which players roam the oceans together in boats, exploring the underwater ruins and searching the islands all over the world. . "It can be a truly magical experience," he said. "It can give you an experience unlike any other."
Sea of Thieves is part of a new genre of video games designed to draw people into living worlds intended to be read for hours. In the industry, they are called "games as services" or "games with live services". But for everyone, they have the chance to play as they please at the favorite game.
This idea is far from new. Adventure games such as EverQuest (1999) and World of Warcraft (2004) have become a cultural phenomenon and have attracted millions of people who have not only played the game, but have also bought books and articles. related for decades. Millions of people even went to see a feature film, appropriately called Warcraft, in 2016.
But over the past two years, more and more companies have created their own interpretations of the genre. Many were exposed tolast week.
Bethesda Softworks presents The Elder Scrolls Online, a fantasy epic and the post-apocalyptic survival game of Fallout 76. Electronic Arts launched its Anthem adventure game earlier this year. Bungie, maker of the game series Halo, which defines the sector, now offers an epic space battle called Destiny. And the game of the last battle of Fortnite Royal Battle of Epic has become one of the most popular games in the industry.
"There is clearly a group of people – and I would even go so far as to say that it's about a large group of people – who invest a lot in something in which they can invest in and get what they want, "he said Pete Hines, marketing manager at Bethesda. "They find pleasure, entertainment, social relationships, a sense of progression and all that they are looking for."
It's not all happiness and roses, though. Companies say that since entering the genre in recent years, they have learned that these games are more difficult to create and maintain than expected. The pressure for fans to be satisfied with new stories and experiences, while finding ways to pay for the teams and the technology that feeds them, has created problems.
Some games, such as Anthem and Fallout 76, have drawn criticism for their launch with too many bugs and not enough enticing things to do. The players also criticized the Rockstar Games division of Take-Two for explaining how Red Dead Online initially pushed people to spend real money to acquire the weapons and horses needed to play the game faster. ( Rockstar has since changed the way the game works.)
"The industry is deteriorating more and more, it's becoming more and more predatory and exploitative," said Steven Williams, a long-time games commentator whose YouTube channel, Boogie2988, has more than $ 4.5 million. # 39; subscribers.
He and many other commentators say that companies do not think enough about players or employees when creating these titles. They are asking for too much money for experiments, intrigues and extra items, while doing too little, he said. Stories of employees apparently working tirelessly to satisfy the expectations of the players also worry.
And many of these players say that new business models are going down the line. One, in particular, called microtransactions, requires players to invest real money in addition to the initial cost of the game in order to pay for additional designs for characters and weapons.
"We have $ 60 games with $ 120 special editions, as well as microtransactions," said Williams. "It's the nightmare scenario we all warned and now we're here."
While Williams said that the criticism of some players can go beyond the line, their concerns have merit.
Game makers respond that they learn as they go and often end up apologizing and trying to do good for their community when they make a mistake. But they also say that they are trying to meet the desires of the players to create game worlds that they can explore for longer with their friends.
"We are trying to find what will captivate and captivate," said Strauss Zelnick, head of Take-Two Interactive Software, which offers online additions to the 2013 Grand Theft Auto V cowboy game and Red Dead Redemption 2 from last year. (Zelnick is also acting president of CBS, owner of CNET.)
Zelnick said his teams were trying to "offer more value than we charge," he said, though that does not always happen that way.
"You do not want players to say," I really like, really the game, but … "http://www.cnet.com/," he says. "You want them to come back and say," I love the game and of course, I had to pay for it, but it pays to pay for exceptional experiences. "Http://www.cnet.com/"
L & # 39; s future
Although some players feel that these games take control of the industry, the developers also produce standalone titles. Upcoming projects include the next EA report, The next Nintendo suite for and Sony's next survival thriller, The Last of Us Part 2.
Meanwhile, developers are trying to find the best way to create this new generation of live games. And as more of them are manufactured, another problem is that there are so many on the market that it's hard to decide which one to play.
"This space is so new," said Matt Firor, game director for The Elder Scrolls Online. His team has therefore designed the game in such a way that it is more welcoming to people who only play from time to time. For example, people who have not progressed in history can still play alongside dedicated players who have done almost everything they can.
"Most of my friends play a main game," said 29-year-old Sam Kirkendoll, who is fundraising for a Dallas Fort Worth University. He's been playing World of Warcraft since 2007, but he said other friends daubed, left, and then came back.
Firor, from The Elder Scrolls, has learned that what brings these dabblers back are great updates with lots of new things to do. As a result, his team has begun making big new story launches in the same way that television producers are marketing new seasons for their shows.
"Just keep innovating and bringing new experiences," said Kati Levoranta, CEO of Rovio, creator of the hit game Angry Birds. The changes made by the company and new things to do are not only seducing existing players, she said, but also new ones. As a result, the number of people who played Angry Birds 2 every day continued to increase, when he was four years old.
"We know that the world we live in today is fast enough and new things are happening all the time," she said. "So you have to stay fresh and relevant."
Keep them happy
Game makers have said that one of the keys to making everything work is giving players a way to comment and then fix them as they go.
"You learn over time because the community always gives you feedback," said Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, director of the post-apocalyptic division 2 thriller and Tom's Rainbow Six Siege strategy game. Clancy. "We can learn what they want and adopt content tailored to their needs."
Duncan Rare released the most important changes to the game in April, a year after its initial launch. The update included stories called Tall Tales, which were developed with the help of dedicated players who tested the changes and gave their opinion. The company also regularly aired videos in the community to keep them abreast of the development evolution until its launch.
"Sea of Thieves today would not be the game without the trip we made last year," he said.
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