Microsoft finally expresses its vision for the future of gaming.
Phil Spencer famously said a few months ago that Microsoft would focus only on multiplayer and Games as a Service games going forward- meaning no epic single player adventures on Xbox like Zelda or Horizon going forward. He would go on to retract and clarify that statement- but of course, until now, we haven’t seen much in the way of new single player games from Microsoft, except for the new Ori game.
However, in an interview with GamesIndustry, Shannon Loftis, General Manager of Microsoft Studios Publishing, stated once and for all that Microsoft is focused on main single player games too- because, she argues, single player games fit in with Microsoft’s vision of what gaming should be as well (which was articulated beautifully by her as stating that Microsoft envisions games being about community, bringing people together).
“Right now we are very focused on games that bring people together, who form communities and find ways to self-express,” she said, before adding that that does not have to necessarily mean multiplayer games.
“There is a fun YouTube search that I like to do: ‘Reactions to people watching the Ori and the Will of The Wisps trailer’,” she said. “It is a blast watching their reactions and seeing them crying, good crying, over the game. Even the ability to share a reaction to a story, or to share how something made you feel in that moment, that is a viable social mechanic. There will always be a need to tell these stories, like Ori or like Zelda. Zelda is an incredibly social game, and just because you are playing it by yourself, doesn’t mean that the entire world isn’t sharing your experience.
“The fact that we have the ability to share screens, share commentary, and groups, and clubs on Xbox Live… those are ways to bring people together around a game that is more story orientated.
“Games that build community… these are games that people come back to again and again. And they come back as much for the social experience as they do the gameplay. I actually think that is for the greater good of society. Things that bring people closer together as opposed to driving them apart. There are a lot of things driving people apart right now, and I’m proud to be part of an industry that does the opposite.”
This is the first time I have seen Microsoft articulate an actual cohesive vision for what they want games to be (and it’s a wonderful vision, one I can get behind). This is also the first time I have seen them openly justify their commitment to single player games within their larger plans for video games.
If Loftis is right – and I hope she is – then Microsoft will continue working on single player games in the future. I can only hope that they manage to make something like Ori, across all genres and scales. That would be wonderful.