Shadows of the Damned director questions the high price of singleplayer-only games

Are high price tags to blame for the slow demise of single-player-only games? Shadows of the Damned director Massimo Guarini seems to think so. Reflecting on why Grasshopper Manufacture's quirky hell-bent action title failed to set the gaming world on fire, Guarini suggested consumers are reluctant to pay the same for solo titles as they do for multiplayer fare, and that maybe it's time the industry rethinks its retail strategy.

“Single-player-only games are nowhere close to being doomed. The problem rather lies in how they're produced, through which channels they're sold, and at which price points,” Guarini told GameSpot Australia, clarifying, “I can't see in any way a single-player experience being less engaging or interesting because of the absence of multiplayer. Instead, I can definitely see how players who pay 60 or 70 bucks for a game can be quite sensitive to the lack of additional features that can justify their investment.”

Guarini said the industry is stuck in the past when it comes to pricing their goods, only now they have much higher production costs to contend with. Instead of changing perspectives, he noted game makers are instead expending huge amounts of energy on validating the cost, explaining, “We're still struggling to pack games with features, extras, bonuses, achievements, in order to barely justify that price tag, which is given by excessively high development and licensing costs. We must learn our lesson from the huge, epic failure the music industry is still suffering nowadays for not being able to adapt to the digital revolution.”

Price debates aside, Guarini admitted Shadows of the Damned also suffered from a less-than-ideal promotional budget; a result of the game's long and financially draining development cycle. Still, while sales fell shy of the studio's expectations, Guarini said the positive vibes Grasshopper has received from both critics and fans has made up for the dissapointing numbers, adding, “I still receive many messages from fans and gamers all around the world, and it's quite amazing to see how this game has managed to engage people, putting a smile on everybody's face and making everyone feel refreshed. I am very happy about this. As a creator, this is the biggest reward I can get.”

Read the full interview here.

Jul 26, 2011

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Tightly controlled chaos makes for some of the year's most inspired fun


  • ThatGuyFromTV - July 27, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    The only reason that games are still using this archaic system of pricing is because they are on discs instead of digital distribution. Once retail-quality games are moved completely to digital distribution, they will be more open and more able to adopt a freemium-style pricing model, and we've all seen the kinds of good that can do with games' profits.
  • jmcgrotty - July 27, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Didn't see Azureguys comment. Should have added this to my comment: If you're going to try to make examples, use good ones. Minecraft isn't a game (not even taking into account that it isn't a game, there is no reason for anyone to ever even "play" the thing. It's a joke). Angry Birds, no matter how popular it is, is not worth comparison to anything else. It's price is irrelevant in relation to other games, because of the type. You're paying for a HUGE lack of quality. That is better used as an example of ways that companies steal from stupid consumers.
  • jmcgrotty - July 27, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    Not sure if it is because of prices, but if so, that is pretty pathetic of consumers. If you say that consumers see a better value in a multi-player game, basically what that means is that you would rather pay for a broke, lesser version of a game (multi-player/online) than a real game (single player). If anyone is to be pissed at the prices, it's the real players, who can't stand online play, and yet are being held hostage by companies wasting money and dev time on bullshit online/multi-player.
  • nai1210 - July 27, 2011 4:10 a.m.

    I personally couldn't care less for most multiplayer and i hate it when it gets bolted on to games that are single player experiences,Bayonetta i purchased full price and have put in 70 hours and thats not a huge RPG experience,i'm on my second playthrough of Vanquish and my third playthrough of Shadow's of the Dammed again both purchased at full price,i'm also playing Deadly Prmeonition for £17 and would have happily payed £40 for it as it is superb,I payed £25 for COD:Black Op's close to it's release as a lot of work colleagues picked it up to play online that lasted about a week or two,the single player was pretty cool but only played it once and now it gathers dust,definatley got a lot more value for money with the other titles even although I payed more for them.So Suda 51 no multiplayer needed for Shadow's 2 but some unlockable stuff would be nice.
  • azureguy - July 27, 2011 1:29 a.m.

    Even though the price is indeed a key problem here, it's not because of the lack of multiplayer - it's because so much good games are available for a lot less money compared to 60 bucks games. The competition just got a lot more... diverse. Minecraft and Super Meat Boy for 15$ Portal and Angry Birds for 10$ Team Fortress 2 for Free and lots of games availabe for free. If you only know about console games and don't care about the rest, you don't mind paying full price. But if someone knows what value the cheaper games offer, you think twice about spending so much money (especially when it comes to the lenght of a game). Ah what am I talking about, bad marketing ALWAYS result in bad sales! But the other part is also quite true. (Disclaimer: The games I listed above are just a few random choices I made, in no way do I say that they're the Holy Grail or something).
  • Metallica - July 27, 2011 12:52 a.m.

    Really? I can't believe what I'm hearing. Are single-player games WORTH LESS MONEY than multiplayer games? What. The. Dick.
  • Yeager1122 - July 26, 2011 11:52 p.m.

    I agree the short single player games with no multiplayer i usally wait for a price drop $60 is not worth it for those games the only ones worth it are ones with hours of gameplay.
  • Defguru7777 - July 26, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    I've said this before, but I think games in general are too expensive for today's economic climate. Often I'll see the price of $60 games go down to about $40 (Portal 2). It isn't about how much you think the games are worth, it's about people not having enough money to buy every game they want. Hell, I'm close to never buying a game for $60 again, just to wait for it to drop in price.
  • ShowMeYourKitties - July 26, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    Unless its some insanely long RPG, there's no point in me buying a single player only game for $60 as opposed to renting it. I totally agree with this
  • LordGremlin - July 26, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    Do not agree. Quality of content should dictate the price, not playtime. I paid good money for Shadows of the Damned when it released and am fully satisfied.
  • Enclave84 - July 26, 2011 10:20 p.m.

    @Jackthemenace: cost of DLC for singleplayer? Talk about the cost of DLC for -mutliplayer-, just look at COD, it charges like 15 bucks just for some online maps, and at best you have to pay 10 for only four maps on any other game. Atleast the singleplayer DLC's last like two hours at the minimum usually so I consider them worth it. As for singleplayer....I enjoy it so much more then multiplayer. Multiplayer in my mind is the same thing for every game, and although I don't mind it, it shouldn't be the focus of a game just to be multiplayer. I find games with stories more interesting then just endless grinding.
  • SideOfBeef - July 26, 2011 10:09 p.m.

    Bastion. Everything that makes single player games great can be done for a budget price, if you quit trying to be a technical showpiece. I don't think anyone came to Shadows of the Damned for its graphics, so why even worry about them?
  • jackthemenace - July 26, 2011 10:03 p.m.

    I always prefer single-player stories to online modes, no idea why, but I have no qualms about paying full price for a game with just a single-player. I do, however, expect it to be long enough to be worth that value, and, preferably, have some kind of replayability, and, ideally, some reason for me to play through more than once. The MAIn thing I hate about single-player only games is the price of DLC content. Games Like Mass Effect and Fallout are great, but some of the DLC is very highly priced, and is quite often too short, or too bad, to worth the extra £8-£10 it costs.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - July 26, 2011 10:01 p.m.

    Oh wow, this is something ive thought for a long time but never expected to happen, so seeing someone with a bit of authority talk about it is really nice, the only issue is surely publishers would push games to include multi-player anyway so they can charge full price..but yes i am totally behind this idea and really really do not want to see single player gaming die
  • Bamford38 - July 26, 2011 9:52 p.m.

    I dont really agree. I dont play games online that much, but the only thing that has made me wait to buy shadows of the damned is that its only 6 hours long, and no new game plus. I know some people would be totally turned off with the fact theres no multiplayer, but i think thats no excuse to adding on a completely pointless multiplayer option (like dead space 2, bioshock 2,etc). At the end of the day, i judge the value of a game on how much enjoyment im gonna get out of it, and £40 for 6 hours really isnt worth it!
  • shadowreaper72 - July 26, 2011 9:52 p.m.

    I completly agree. As I said before, if the game is less than 15 hours amd has no multiplayer, I will either rent the game or wait until it hits the bargain bin. If game developers and companies just reliaze that their poor sales sometimes come from their game being to expensive, maybe games like this will sell much more and more than likely make much more money in the long term. Also more advertising on TV or popular websites wouldnt hurt either.
  • 7thHanyou - July 26, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    Games like Persona 4, Morrowind, The Wind Waker, Super Mario Galaxy, and Tales of Vesperia have given me far more replay value than any multiplayer game could hope to. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't mind paying full-price for a single-player game if it gives me enough value. More often than not, they do. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's to blame for the declining popularity of single-player only games, but it's not quality and it shouldn't be price.
  • Gameguy94 - July 26, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    I agree. The only SP games that should cost $60 is ones with MASSIVE amounts of content. The Elder Scrolls and Just Cause 2 come to mind. Others like Vanquish and the first Uncharted should have smaller price tags for the length of their campaigns.

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