Service-based games aren’t going to become the new norm over at Bethesda, according to studio head Todd Howard.
Howard got a lot of mileage at the Gamelab convention in Barcelona, Spain. He’s been talking to literally everyone who attended about the upcoming multiplayer survival game, Fallout 76. He’s fielded questions on everything from whether or not there will be mounts and vehicles (that’s a definite “no”) to whether we’ll have to worry about getting spawn-camped by a group of murderous player slash raiders (that’s another no).
Another thing we don’t have to worry about: Bethesda saying goodbye to their traditional single-player story games.
Ever since Morrowind, Bethesda has been known for one thing: making incredible, story-rich, single-player experiences. While every other company hopped online so you could play with friends in whatever murder-fest your heart desired, Bethesda stayed strong in their belief that quiet loners deserve to play video games as much as everyone else.
And they’ve been rewarded for their belief by millions of players getting their hands on Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 3, just to name a few.
So it came with some measure of concern when we heard that Fallout 76 would be an online-only, multiplayer survival game. Would this spell the end of Bethesda as a single-player game maker?
In a word, no.
"It doesn't mark the future,” said Todd Howard in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. Corporately we've done a mix; people forget sometimes. Elder Scrolls Online is one of the biggest online games in the world, we have Fallout Shelter which we keep updating, and Elder Scrolls: Legends.
"Anyone who has ever said 'this is the future and this part of gaming is dead' has been proven wrong every single time. We like to try it all. For a long time, we wanted to try a multiplayer game and we had this idea. We shouldn't be afraid. We should try it."
So while the rest of us might be afraid that single-player games might be dead, Bethesda doesn’t seem to think so. That’s a relief for quiet loners everywhere.
Bethesda does indeed have a bunch of games on mobile right now, including Fallout Shelter, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and The Elder Scrolls: Blades, but Bethesda’s attempts at monetization has been comparatively light.
"It's definitely a lighter touch, which surprisingly worked very well for us in Fallout Shelter," said Howard. "I was forced to meet with a lot of 'monetization experts' during Fallout Shelter that didn't work for us. I said 'that's nice' and then it came out and the first week it was above Candy Crush with a very light touch... We did learn a lot though."
He went on to say that mobile games are a key demographic, especially when it comes to making inroads into the largest gamer market on the planet: China. Most Chinese gamers do so on their mobile phone rather than a PC or a console system, so getting Chinese players hooked on a phone game would be a huge financial windfall for Bethesda--one that is expected to fund the next generation of single-player games.
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