Where oh where has my story gone?
The gaming industry is a living breathing thing, forever changing. Things like; the economy, changing technology, and popular opinion affect the games we play and will play in the future. With the ever-increasing popularity of online competitive games, more and more companies are working on the next big multiplayer experience. These can be great fun, but it feels like it's missing something... oh yeah, where's the single-player story mode? Video games are a media akin to big movies and TV, they can tell wondrous tales with the added benefit of the player taking part in the story. Some of the greatest, most engaging stories ever told have been told in video games. So where have all the stories gone? Not as many companies are putting in the effort to bring us these riveting tales anymore.
Like it or not, the gaming industry is a business and what is a business' goal? Is it to bring us everything we hope and dream for on a silver platter? No, It's to make money. Now I'm not trying to get on my soapbox and preach the fall of big companies or anything, I'm simply looking at the real reasons behind the changes in the industry we see today in regards to story driven games. Now, a game company wants to maximize profits and minimize cost. How would they go about doing that? They want to make a product that sells to as many people as possible. Right now, that product is online multiplayer games. There is a wealth of example of this. Pseudo-MMO type games like Destiny, popular shooter likes Call of Duty, objective based shooters like Overwatch and Lawbreakers, and now battle royal shooters like PU Battlegrounds. We even have online melee combat with For Honor. These are all great, but if you are like me, who only plays online games with friends, you need something to play when no one is available. For me, that was where story-driven games came in. I could get emotionally invested in a story, games were my soaps. But I appear to be in the minority. Companies aren't going to cater to my needs when they can sell a million more copies of the next big shooter. So until popular opinion changes, we won't see a surge in story-driven games for a while.
The golden age of big story-driven games has passed. If you look at a list of the greatest RPGs of all time, most of them will be from a time before online multiplayer was fully utilized. In the beginning, games were made intentionally hard to offset how short they really were. Once technology started to catch up, we reached that perfect blend of form and function. Games that had loads of content and well-written stories. We had games like Morrowind, Golden Sun, Yakuza, and much more. Now the focus is more on the actual tech than the content. We still have great games, but compare the amount of content in Skyrim to that of Morrowind and you'll see what I mean.
This isn't to say there aren't still good story-driven games being made today, you just have to look on the indie side. Some may be lacking in length, but there are some real gameplay and story gems out there. Games like Undertale, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Oxenfree are prime example of a story-driven single player game made by indie studios. If you're itching for a new story, check out the indie tab on Steam. You will find the next big indie hit.