As one of the most decorated veterans in the business of video games, Amy Hennig has seen it all. She has a career that spans more than thirty years, including stints at various studios. She is most famously known for her work as a writer and creative director for the Uncharted series. She left developer Naughty Dog back in 2014 to join the EA family as a part of Visceral Games. The studio was working on a widely publicized Star Wars game that was abruptly shut down last year (along with Visceral itself). A week after the news broke that Hennig was no longer with EA, she sat down with Geoff Keighley and Mark Cerny for a chat in Barcelona about all things video games. Unsurprisingly, questions about the demise of Visceral Games’ Star Wars title and the future of single player games was discussed.
The interview in Barcelona never touched on the drama at the studio. Instead, Henning was asked if she thought the single player games were dead after what happened while she was at EA. She expressed doubt at the idea that such games are on the way out, while at the same time thanking Sony for continuing to foot the bill for similar projects. She says that big budget single player games are “terrifying to make. They’re very expensive, and it doesn’t suit the model of having a massive open world or hours and hours of gameplay or running a live service, which is what everybody is shooting for these days.”
While it was reported last fall that EA’s decision to shut down Visceral was the result of months of layoffs and disagreements between Hennig and the other staff, the publisher made public statements about the difficulties of funding and making money with narrative-driven experiences like those Henning is famous for. Without the promise of constant microtransactions or subscription fees, larger publishers may decide that the return on investment is not sufficient for certain types of games.
While she understands the business realities behind making loot shooters like Destiny or Anthem, Hennig is not a fan of experiences with no defined ending. “I play games because I want to finish them. I want to see the story. I like the arc of a story. I don’t see the ends of most games. How crazy is it that we say it’s about narrative, but we make games where a fraction of the audience sees the end of the game? That’s heartbreaking.”
Hennig is currently forming a small development team with the hopes of exploring opportunities in VR. No games or projects have been announced by Hennig at this time.