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Avalanche: Why Bother With Story In Big-Budget AAA Games?

Why do I get the feeling that the PSXE community will have something to say to this guy?

Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios understandably wants to put the gameplay experience first; after all, their flagship franchise is an open-world sandbox game where the majority of gamers often see the story as secondary.

But studio founder Christofer Sundberg has taken the next step. On his Twitter page, he says that while an underlying narrative is important, "all data" indicates that players just don't care. So why bother with story in a AAA project?

""Why should a game have an end? Why bother about story when all data proves that players don't care? 6-12hrs story-driven AAA games makes no sense commercially any more."

He did cite some exceptions, including Naughty Dog's anticipated upcoming title, The Last Of Us, but in the end, Sundberg said "story missions are not important." He used the example of feedback gained from Just Cause 2, where the team spent 3-5 months creating the game's story missions, only to find that 18% of players actually completed those missions. He added that he "loves a good game story" but from a commercial standpoint, he doesn't "believe in it for the future."

...we've already added a few contrasting replies of our via Twitter.

Tags: avalanche studios, just cause, story driven games, stories in video games

4/22/2013 11:09:46 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (21 posts)

Huey
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 11:36:30 AM
Reply

Hmm, pitch us all into a sandbox, toss some weapons at us and say "just shoot things". Excuse me Avalanche, not all people want that.

Agree with this comment 8 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

DrRockso87
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 11:49:31 AM
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"only to find that 18% of players actually completed those missions."

Because the story missions in Just Cause 2 suck.

I completed all of the story missions in inFamous 1 & 2, Red Dead Redemption, GTAIV, Assassin's Creed: II/Brotherhood, Batman: Arkham City, etc. despite all of the extra enticing features their sandbox offers. Why? Because the campaign for those games are GOOD!

Last edited by DrRockso87 on 4/22/2013 11:49:49 AM

Agree with this comment 12 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ludicrous_Liam
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 2:13:04 PM

LOL. Simple as. The missions in the demo were truly woeful. You could see the lack of effort as you continually find yourself lost as to what you're supposed to do, even after watching a cutscene and with the objectives on screen. Massive lack of motivation as well...and this was just the demo. That's called poor game design in my eyes.

And you have to ask yourself what would games like GTAIV be without it's story? It really allows the game to flesh out the characters and gameplay mechanics, and immerse you in the world. It's the emulsifying element that makes the whole experiance cohesive, allowing you to enjoy the game as a whole. A game without a story is like a song without drums - there's no drive.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

ProfPlayStation
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 11:58:24 AM
Reply

1. Make game with crap missions.
2. Complain people don't play your missions.
3. ???
4. Profit!

Agree with this comment 12 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

kraygen
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 12:19:55 PM
Reply

I like free roaming sandbox style games, but those with great stories are the ones I put the most hours into and enjoy the most.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Kiryu
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 1:22:54 PM
Reply

Story is the reason y i liked GOd of War Ascension more than God of War 3. Gameplay in both are Epic

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Xombito
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 1:24:05 PM
Reply

I'll keep this in mind when I see the next avalanche game. And what about Rockstar's sandbox games? Great stories and great sandbox games.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

wackazoa
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 1:43:16 PM
Reply

If the story is gonna be 6-12 hrs long..... well I might not care about that story. Not enough time to get into for me. Now a 20hr or so story yes. If the game has a 6-12hr story but multiplayer then I would probably never play the story, example Battlefield 3, Killzone, COD,etc.

Last edited by wackazoa on 4/22/2013 1:43:39 PM

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PS3_Wizard
Thursday, April 25, 2013 @ 12:59:23 AM

Man...people hate the hell out of COD on here...im witcha dawg. multiplayer ftw

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city96
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 1:50:48 PM
Reply

To be honest. I never played Just Cause 2 for the story or voice acting. Some games try to excell in those areas, Uncharted for instance.

JC2 was just pure fun. It gave you a reason to cause chaos so you just do.

You really did have to make your own fun after 70+ hours of gametime.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 2:27:29 PM
Reply

In a sense he is right, the current trend is with people who like to pop-in, cause carnage, and pop out. People complain about cut scenes and skip them.

I love cut scenes and great stories though, the "data" may be on their side like with focus groups but that isn't what makes a game great for the gamers who truly appreciate narratives like those found in Bioshock for instance. There are different markets and I'd hate to see the ones I love go down this road.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Rogueagent01
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 2:34:58 PM
Reply

I agree with him as far as Just Cause 2 is concerned, it didn't really need a strong story. However I cannot in anyway see how a strong story would have hurt it either. If he was speaking strictly for Just Cause I would actually tip my hat to him, but for him to imply that no one cares is just another person that lacks a real education and misunderstands statistics.

I am apart of the 18% that completed the story and though it was generic on all levels, I still had fun with it. I always find it amazing when someone uses stats to try and say this is reality. Understand that stats are never accurate nor do they speak for everyone. Most questionaires, polls, and studies are loaded from the get go to give false results.

If stories weren't important then why would any larger company work on them in any industry? It would be bad business for a large company to make something with a good story if no one cared, that alone proves this guy is not only wrong but delusional as well.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

JROD0823
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 2:43:38 PM
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Well, count me out for a future purchase of Just Cause 3, or any other games Avalanche might make.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Comic Shaman
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 3:17:36 PM
Reply

"All data" from Just Cause is, I would say, a somewhat limited pool. It hardly reflects "all data."

One silver lining of the whole Mass Effect 3 stormcloud is that it should make it abundantly clear that gamers do care about the story. I would call that significant data.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I think this is one of the dumber things I've heard a developer say. I hope Sundberg is not as big of a fool as this tweet seems to suggest.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Comic Shaman
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 3:30:44 PM

Incidentally, "all data" probably doesn't include a customer like me.

I downloaded and played the demo of Just Cause 2. I thought the mechanics were fun and it was a cool sandbox experience, but ultimately I decided not to buy it and spend my time elsewhere.

Why?

Because the story was idiotic.

Perhaps he can factor that variable into his data next time.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Teddie9
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 3:47:50 PM
Reply

And so I won't be buying any of your games.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Tim Speed24
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 5:40:15 PM
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Yeah, he might be right about not needing a story in Just Cause 2. I did complete the story line but it was awful as were the cut scenes.

But I still play this game about 100hours so far. I jump in and create my own fun. There is just so much to do and collect in this game.

I personally love a good action story but in this particular case he might be right about the story, but you still need something to go for or chase to make a sandbox game interesting.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Axe99
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 5:46:50 PM
Reply

Argh, this really frustrates me - it's yet another dev assuming all gamers are the same. Sure, people that played Just Cause 2 probably weren't looking for a riveting story (and those that were, didn't get one! I'm one of the 18%, and while the story missions were entertaining enough, they were only average (if that) for story missions in an open-world game), but story was a huge part in Heavy Rain, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Bioshocks, Dishonored, the Walking Dead (without story, the Walking Dead wouldn't have been much at all!)

Sure, _some_ games don't need a story, but others do. It's like saying all movies need explosions, or other similar rubbish. There are lots of different types of gamers, and only making for one audience misses out on the rest.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Akuma07
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 9:36:43 PM
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Another dev who is out of touch with gamers.

It gets worse every year.....

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

___________
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 @ 4:55:55 AM
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for a game like just cause it would be really difficult to do a story for it, and make it compelling.
so hes kinda got a point, it depends on what type of game it is.
a game like JC2 or say even deblob 2, really no point in having a complex detailed story in it.
but a game like ME or such quite the opposite.
different things suit different genres.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 @ 9:53:21 PM
Reply

I was mad until I read, "Just Cause developer..."

oh. well... whatever. lol

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

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