CliffyB Says FPS Campaigns Take up 75% of The Budget

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CliffyB Says FPS Campaigns Take up 75% of The Budget

Legendary shooter developer CliffyB says the vast majority of a shooter's budget goes into something people blow over in a weekend.

For better or worse, online, multiplayer only shooters are becoming more of a thing. Legenedary shooter dev Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski's upcoming new game LawBreakers also looks like it won't have a singleplayer component (still unconfirmed) and CliffyB has now given us some insight into why this is happening.

"[Singleplayer campaigns] usually cost 75% of the budget," Bleszinski told PC Gamer. "And you burn through the campaign in a weekend, and then [players] go to multiplayer." In the full interview (to the right), Bleszinski talks a bit more about trends in the shooter genre, and of course his upcoming game.

It certainly makes a lot of sense, especially if the game, like Lawbrkeakers or Blizzard's Overwatch are being built from the ground-up to be multiplayer shooters. Why waste so much money on something most gamers will merely regard as a curiosity, if they even bother to play it?

I know in my case I burned through Battlefield 3's campaign in a matter of hours, and when Battlefield 4 rolled around, I didn't even bother to play it. I'd much rather that wasted budget be rolled into making more maps and other content for the multiplayer portion of the game.

Source: PC Gamer

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If that is the case, why are developers pushing for multiplayer only experiences, stating they can reallocate the resources to make multiplayer even better? And then we still get a barebones Battlefront despite it having a huge budget.

Shock and horror, the game part of the game takes up 75% of the budget.

Maybe if you put more game in and less overblown moronic set pieces that were expensive and time consuming to make?

PS: Also, Cliffy B? Really? What is this 2006? Shouldn't he be off being irrelevant somewhere?

Wait you spend 75% of a multimillion dollar budget on a campaign that gamers easily blow through in a weekend?!
Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?! Maybe don't make your campaign piss easy and short?!

On the one hand, I can really see that being the case. Takes a lot of dev time making a good experience like that, compared to making decent maps and mechanics for an online shooter. Lots of work, when you get a shooter experience only by playing the multiplayer.

On the other hand...I don't think any popular shooter of the past would have been nearly as successful without a singleplayer campaign. Especially in terms of longevity of the brand. Maybe some really strong shooters could pull off a long-lasting brand that continually makes money, but I doubt it. Just think of Halo, would people still be playing and buying the series if it didn't have a campaign to give a great bit of context? Or Gears of War? I don't think they'd have been at all memorable without a strong campaign for most people.

Plus, not all time is created equal. I have a lot of fond memories playing shooter campaigns with my brother and friends. The multiplayer is entertaining, but never once has it been the same sort of fun. Fun per time spent is a big number. It's easy to create a potentially fun usage of time, but making it funner for the same time over other games? Incredibly difficult. Gimme singleplayer campaigns any day and I'll keep buying them. Give me multiplayer campaigns and I'll ignore em. Just not fun enough for me to justify playing them.

Honestly multiplayer only games are fine. Those aren't the problem. We've had them for over a decade. Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress... they're not new. But what those games had are bots. Remember those? Bots let us play the game without having to deal with other people. Or they let us play after the games' communities are dead and gone. Bots are great because then the games will still have value when the servers are shut off.

Bring back bots.

In Battlefronts 1 and 2 those story modes were basically just glorified bot matches. And those were fine. Galactic Conquest was just bot matches. And that was amazing. Bring back bots.

I love Titanfall, but nobody plays it anymore so I can't enjoy it. If it had bots that emulated players I could still play it and have fun.

I call bullshit on that. It might be the case for some of the games, but I suspect he's fudging the numbers a bit by counting resources shared between modes as part of the single player budget. Most of the modern games, from their mechanics to their aesthetics, are designed from a multiplayer perspective and then shoe-horned into single player campaigns.

Besides, over half of a game's budget goes to advertising: the AAA industry has stated this repeatedly over the last five or ten years.

TsunamiWombat:
Shock and horror, the game part of the game takes up 75% of the budget.

Maybe if you put more game in and less overblown moronic set pieces that were expensive and time consuming to make?

Pretty much this.

Also:

I know in my case I burned through Battlefield 3's campaign in a matter of hours, and when Battlefield 4 rolled around, I didn't even bother to play it. I'd much rather that wasted budget be rolled into making more maps and other content for the multiplayer portion of the game.

Your problem here is that you're playing Battlefield and expecting a good campaign. Battlefield has literally never sold on the strength of its single-player element. Back in the day if you wanted a good single player experience you went for Medal of Honour or Call of Duty, prior to all the "Modern Warfare" nonsense anyway.

In any case there might be a point here...if not for the fact that vast majority of no-campaign multiplayer shooters over the past couple of years have been extremely barebones. The article quotes Battlefront which got hammered for lack of content and Evolve which got hammered for lack of content AND criticised for a godawful and confusing scheme of different versions. Titanfall is another great example, I like Titanfall a lot and I love how well the gameplay was constructed and balanced but its hard to deny it was thin on the ground for content given how they skimped on any form of campaign. Its pretty much been proven that having no single player campaign doesn't result in more content and maps for the multiplayer, it just means they're able to make it extra-extra-extra shiny.

So, what you're saying is that you're really bad at making content. Okay. Gotcha. Go to hell.

If 75% of a budget goes into single player campaigns and you cut that to make an online shooter. Then why are we still paying full price for a game that is only a 1/4 of the budget of a "full" game?

AAA Publisher says "here's $100 million to make a new shooter." Devs says "we only need 25 million of that." Publisher says "that's fine but we are still going to charge $60 AND announce a $60 season pass." Dev says "Yes sir boss man."

AmIright? :)

A single player campaign is a shooter is hardly a "wasted budget" in my book, thank you. Single player in shooters is the ONLY reason I will pick up a shooter. The only time I broke this was for the new Star Wars Battlefront, and that is only because it's Star Wars.

Silentpony:

Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?!

Modern Warfare 2 happened. It showed that a 4 hour campaign with cutscenes can sell like nobody's business.

Also I have to call bullshit on the campaigns costing that much of a budget. Most FPS' with a campaign and an online multiplayer have the multiplayer maps just be ripped out of the campaign, to the point you can often even see the area they used their mouse to copy/past it before making a few modifications so it works as a self contained map.

Battlefront is an even more egregious example of this, as they only made 4 maps for Walker Assault and had the "specialize" map for each other game mode be carved out of THOSE maps.

That's a load of bullshit, considering that Cliffy's design for shooters is an infinite series of shoeboxes laid out in a line. You walk into a room and take cover, locust walk into the room and take cover, you kill them. Then you go to the next room, and the locust come in and you repeat. It's like they send out platoons from the home base perfectly timed to enter every room just after you do. That can't cost more than 87 cents to design.

Fuck you. If the campaign is taking up 75% of the budget but can be blown through in a matter of hours, then its one hundred percent on the developer for sucking balls at their goddamn jobs. There's no excuse for that much of the budget to be burned on the campaign only to have jack shit to show for it.

Great. I was having an alright day but now I'm so fucking pissed I'm seeing red. This is what's wrong with the game industry today; devs and publishers push the fucking blame on other things without realizing that maybe the game failed because THEY FUCKED UP.

Sounds like bullshit! But for my part I don't really care. I prefer single-player campaigns and I'm not going to go looking for that in multiplayer-focused shooters so for my part they can just skip the campaign. Or keep it, I'm not going to be playing it anyway.
But I realise others feel differently so yeah...

It's good we have a bunch of pseudo professionals able to call out bullshit when they see it.

Soviet Heavy:
If that is the case, why are developers pushing for multiplayer only experiences, stating they can reallocate the resources to make multiplayer even better? And then we still get a barebones Battlefront despite it having a huge budget.

Because they spent all those savings on graphics!

...what, did you expect them to use it to put more effort into the actual gameplay? Ha ha charade you are!

Look at the huge single player games that Bethesda makes for example, maybe the budget on his games are 75% single player. But it does raise an interesting point concerning his single player games. If he is burning 75% on single player content that only lasts 8 hours, then he has no idea what he is doing.

A good single player game will live "forever." Unless a multiplayer game ends up either being free to play or almost defines its genre then it will die and be forgotten.

Well, time to start scaling back on those brilliant, well thought out, deep, intense singleplayer fps campaigns then... lol

Then dear Buddha you don't know how to manage money worth shit, Clifford.

flying_whimsy:
I call bullshit on that. It might be the case for some of the games, but I suspect he's fudging the numbers a bit by counting resources shared between modes as part of the single player budget. Most of the modern games, from their mechanics to their aesthetics, are designed from a multiplayer perspective and then shoe-horned into single player campaigns.

Besides, over half of a game's budget goes to advertising: the AAA industry has stated this repeatedly over the last five or ten years.

I suspect he's not counting marketing budget into that cost.

I honestly don't think he's lying about the numbers , at least not by a significant margin. Particularly if you're already working off an existing engine (Or if you're making a sequel). The amount of time to get a game working isn't all that long, or expensive. I heard from a guy working at EA that only about 20-30% of the people working on a game are programmers. For larger projects, it's typically smaller.

By far, the largest money sink in games is content creation. Modelling, texturing, animation, voice acting, sound design, etc... The amount of content you need to create for multiplayer is absolutely tiny compared to single player. What do you need for multiplayer? A small number of character models, and animations of those characters (Lots of which might be mostly done from assets you already have from previous projects), as well as 5-10 fairly small maps. In singleplayer you need a lot more content. This is where writers, voice actors, sound designers and artists come in. Plus, if you want a big set piece with atypical physics interactions, you're going to have to tweak the engine to accomodate it, or more likely find some way to fudge it. And just think about the amount of modelling that must go into places you can't even reach but are there floating in the background.

Yeah, I have no difficulty believing this claim

EDIT:

Jeez, looking at all of these responses, I'm not sure if people understand exactly how making video games works. It might only be 8 hours of content, but you're blowing through it quickly, and you need to. Unless you want to spend each hour in an area the size of a multiplayer map, the costs aren't going to be even close to comparable.

75%?!?! The fuck are you spending that on? I'm actually completely baffled by this. It certainly can't be the writers, certainly isn't the voice actors, nor the graphics. The hell does it cost so much? Spend it all on hookers and blow?

And yet... there are fantastic first person single player only games that take way longer before you feel "done". Sounds like CliffyB is talking out of his ass again. Yeah, the single player is short as a motherfucker on all of your games, says more about you than it does game development though.

This might well be true, at least in some cases- but there's no reason it has to be true except for crap planning and a blinkered view of what players want. If you stop planning your games around hiring actors like Kevin Spacey, tightly scripted Michael Bay moments, and levels that introduce mechanics, characters, and scenery that you'll use for ten minutes and then never see again, you can make single-player games that aren't short, disposable, over-priced popcorn experiences. You ("you" being much of the AAA shooter design department, in this instance, in case it wasn't clear) just can't be bothered because it involves thinking and writing rather than throwing a bunch of toys in a box and assuming the online players will entertain themselves.

You know how many people bothered with the multiplayer of Spec Ops: The Line? Or Bioshock Infinite? And yet they still loom large in a lot of people's minds. Think about it.

Huh, for real?
The solo campaign is always my favorite part, nothing against multiplayer and I understand that most players spend their time there, I just never got into it myself.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a liar but that number seems, I don't know, kinda big.

The Almighty Aardvark:

By far, the largest money sink in games is content creation. Modelling, texturing, animation, voice acting, sound design, etc... The amount of content you need to create for multiplayer is absolutely tiny compared to single player. What do you need for multiplayer? A small number of character models, and animations of those characters (Lots of which might be mostly done from assets you already have from previous projects), as well as 5-10 fairly small maps. In singleplayer you need a lot more content. This is where writers, voice actors, sound designers and artists come in. Plus, if you want a big set piece with atypical physics interactions, you're going to have to tweak the engine to accomodate it, or more likely find some way to fudge it. And just think about the amount of modelling that must go into places you can't even reach but are there floating in the background.

Okay, nevermind, I never thought about it that way.
Made me think of Uncharted when you said that. Yeah, it's not a CliffyB game but if there's anywhere that the ratio is more obvious, it's probably there.

I can believe that figure, that SHOULD be the figure if not more. The only problem is that to me the campaign IS the game and the multiplayer is an extra that I may play once or twice.

I mean I recently played through CoD2 again, because I love the campaign on it. Its took me days to finish it, and even though I've done it multiple times before I'm still loving it.

Can we talk about that completely trite Overwatch comparison? Really? Overwatch is for the kids, but what they'll really want to play is their older brother's game that's basically "Overwatch with blood and swearing"? Gamers aren't all teenagers anymore, Cliffy. Cussing and gore will only get you so far if the game itself isn't fun to play. Also, I think it's time we get over this Chromophobia that the gaming industry seems to suffer from. Don't get me wrong, the grimdark phase was fun and all (if a bit bland to look at), but I think we're starting to discover that a little color in games can be a good thing. So have fun selling your shooter on it's blood and grit, but we'll see what sells once the chips are down.

Ah but what do I expect? It wouldn't be a CliffyB interview if he wasn't saying something stupid. Is he still trying to backpedal on calling all PC gamers pirates, or has he sulked back to his console loyalties?

Old School Shooter Campaigns were very well designed... but not THAT long...

RTCW? Can go through it in 3 hours, first time play - around 10 I guess.
Half Life 2? 12-13-14 hours? Sounds about right.

People should stop complaining here.
Start complaining about bots and modding. That is probably the big reason why you think MP-only games of today are not worth the full price.

Well, if we take his basic math. MP = 1/4. SP = 3/4. So an MP only shooter should have 4 times the content for MP that a one so burdened with a campaign does. Yeah, that doesn't really pan out with the examples at large. I'm not debating that the camaign probably could be that expensive all-told (voice acting, motion captures, some of the alternate physics/gameplay they pop in at times, extra textures/modelling/soundtrack, etc), but if thats your justification for MP-only, you need to do a hell of a lot better at the MP component then most have so far.

Well it depends on the context. If you want to check why it takes so much time and money for developers to create a singleplayer experience then you need not look further than the end credits, just count the number of people working there and you'll see why. Check the voice actors, the audio studios, alocations etc.

It can take weeks for something minor to be approved, like, for example, the lightning in a room. You need to send requests to alot of people and they have to reply and even sometimes have meetings about it and for every hours of 'slow' work, people need to be payed.

Cheers.

I believe it but simply because they are usually bloated with useless shit like famous actors and "epic" set pieces.

Something like what Rainbow Six Siege offers for solo is more then enough for me, it has a lot of variety and replay value while taking place in the same locations, I even still think that the Terrorist Hunt mode in the Vegas games were better then the campaign as they too had more replay value.

The older R6 games had campaigns that simply had specific objectives but still avoided what would be more limiting for the player (open this door to trigger a cutscene to then be forced to hold a position while some building explodes in the distance for example, something the Vegas games did)

Its why Hitman Absolution was shit and Blood Money was great.

Eh, I don't doubt Cliffy's assessment, as Aardvark already pointed out, the level of content between a AAA campaign and developing a multiplayer mode is leagues different, and its understandable that developers that want to make a multiplayer shooter would want to save money by cutting a feature that most players of online shooters like CoD and Battlefield don't bother playing.

The problem comes in when it becomes hard to see how those multiplayer only games give us any more than games with multiplayer mode and campaigns. Titanfall launched with 3 mechs, 0 customization at launch, a small number of weapons and abilities, and unimpressive post-launch support. Evolve launched at full price and then expected us to pay even more for more monsters and customization. Battlefront launched with a disappointing number of maps, samey weapons, lame customization, and frankly just far too few gameplay modes.

When you cut the campaign out, you need to show us what we are getting in exchange, it seems like shooters that cut their singleplayer out give us little in exchange for apparently freeing up such a massive amount of its budget. A multiplayer game with 75% more budget for its multiplayer mode should at the very least come with more maps than the average Battlefield game, more customization than CoD, and either the amount of gameplay modes or even outright rule customization like the Halo games. If you can't even match the variety offered by series that have content rich multiplayer AND a single-player campaign, then why should I waste money on your game when I can apparently get equivalent multiplayer content and a single player campaign for the same price.

That's not to say these multiplayer only games are bad, I quite like Titanfall, and Rainbow 6: siege was fun when I played it at a friend's house, even Battlefront was fun for a time, but all those games lost my interest quickly as it just didn't feel like I was getting enough variety to keep playing for months on end, and a multiplayer game only lasts as long as its player base can stay actively playing every day.

SO yeah, don't tack on a single-player if you want to make a multiplayer only game, I have no issue with that, but show me what I'm getting to make up for that, if you're showing me the same level or even less content than I would get from the big name shooters out there like Halo, Battlefield, and CoD, where I can get multiplayer and singleplayer for the same price you want for multiplayer only, don't expect everyone to buy into your game, no matter how hard you try to justify the lack of singleplayer.

Silentpony:
Wait you spend 75% of a multimillion dollar budget on a campaign that gamers easily blow through in a weekend?!
Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?! Maybe don't make your campaign piss easy and short?!

FPS always tended to be possible to finish in a surprisingly short time, even ages ago. I did just run through Half Life 1 again in about 6 or so hours and are currently at the beginning of the last chapter (not counting the boss) of Opposing Force after about three hours.
Games that take weeks are only those that usually are not very story-heavy or are slow, like XCOM, Civ, SimCity, Rollercoaster Tycoon (which also are, coincidentally, strategy games) and a good selection of open-world-RPGs (and even those don't all take hundreds of hours to finish. I think I finished Gothic 1 in about 12 to 15? Again, short enough to plow through in one weekend)

Zontar:

Silentpony:

Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?!

Modern Warfare 2 happened. It showed that a 4 hour campaign with cutscenes can sell like nobody's business.

Except not, as pointed out above.
And even before that, the "all mighty, always-perfect" Doom 1 and Doom 2 probably can be finished also in about three to four hours, each.

Elfgore:
75%?!?! The fuck are you spending that on? I'm actually completely baffled by this. It certainly can't be the writers, certainly isn't the voice actors, nor the graphics. The hell does it cost so much? Spend it all on hookers and blow?

Kevin Spacey doesn't come cheap.

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