Former BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn says there needs to be much more transparency about the post-launch content schedules of games so that they don’t disappoint players.
Flynn spoke to VGC about the issue, which is not a coincidence. We have seen with Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042 that post-launch content was relatively infrequent, so essentially, the games using the live service model are affected. Flynn says, “I think players are ultimately pretty fair. They want games to be great, they want them to be polished, and they want experiences to be respectful of their time. I think our industry has underdelivered and overpromised on some of those things. A lot of times, when you see disappointed players, it’s often because a studio or team has set an expectation that they can’t hit. I get that… I can relate to that.”
Flynn was leading BioWare at the very time that the cobbled-together Anthem was released with a live service model (and that game has since been abandoned: it hasn’t received new content for over a year), and he has since been working at a team called Inflexion (which includes several ex-BioWare developers; Flynn’s the CEO), which has learned a lesson from the past: developers should be more transparent, especially in the post-pandemic era.
“It’s about being honest about this stuff and just saying, ‘this is where we’re at… some of these things are hard, and we’d rather spend a little longer giving you something great than something compromised earlier’. Again, I think the vast majority of players want that too. Players have so much choice now… they’re going to go play something else in the mid-term if you don’t have content, and that’s a good or bad thing for certain studios,” Flynn added. Inflexion’s first game will be Nightingale, a shared-world (everyone will be in the same one!) survival game that will launch in early access on Steam towards the end of the year.
Flynn added, “Developers are always trying to make the best game possible. They’re always trying to improve themselves and improve the experience for players. Then you just add in the massive complication of two years of global stress of the pandemic, working from home and people getting ill, changing work paradigms… it’s bound to echo for some time, I think. I’m a big fan of the saying, ‘the elastic band is not going to snap back all the way’. We are all grappling with the new reality, but at the same time, we know what’s more difficult and what we can keep from the old way of doing things. I’m not surprised that it’s already challenging to make huge, ambitious projects like these games and then to have the unplanned wrinkle of the covid pandemic.”
He’s right: developers and publishers need to be honest and not push the live service model.