No What I’ve Been Reading this week, but instead you get an actual blog post. Huzzah!

Lately, I’ve been thinking lately the kinds of AAA games that developers have been making recently. I’ve also been thinking about the kinds of AAA games that I’ve been playing. And I’ve also been thinking about the kinds of AAA games that I want to play.

What developers are making: Massive open-world games
What I’ve been playing: Massive open-world games
What I want to play: 10-hour linear experiences

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against open-world games – but I get the feeling that developers have abandoned linear experiences almost entirely, and the rise of YouTube and Twitch might explain why.

Nowadays, the world of gaming is inextricably linked with YouTube and Twitch. Hundreds of let’s players and streamers make their living on YouTube and Twitch, respectively, and previews from YouTubers are now an integral part of game marketing campaigns.

It’s undeniable that the gaming industry has played a large part in the rise of YouTube, but less discussed is the effect that YouTube has had on gaming. Competitive multiplayer games make for good YouTube highlight reels; thousands of people watch matches of first-person shooters like Call of Duty or perhaps more importantly, MOBAs, like Dota 2 and League of Legends, on Twitch or YouTube. Hence the rise of MOBAs and MOBA-like games, such as Battleborn.

But YouTube also seems to have an effect on the kinds of single-player games that are being made. Think of the major Western single-player releases (without major multiplayer components) of 2015: Batman: Arkham Knight; Fallout 4; Assassin’s Creed Syndicate; Just Cause 3; Mad Max. All are lengthy experiences that take 20 to 80 hours to complete. All have open-world elements and some degree of ludic non-linearity. Moreover, the ways in which the games’ systems interact allow for emergent gameplay elements. In particular, Just Cause 3 provides a lot of opportunities for mayhem and destruction that can play out in unpredictable ways.

These are the kinds of games that make for great YouTube clips, often interspersed with humorous commentary. They’re the kinds of games that Achievement Hunter might play in a round of GO! or HUNT. They make for great animated .gifs on Kotaku’s Highlight Reel. Just think about how many YouTube hits or Twitch streams a game like Grand Theft Auto V gets. It makes sense that developers would start gearing their games towards the YouTube and Twitch crowds. Even Mirror’s Edge, known as a tightly-designed linear experience, is going open-world for its upcoming sequel. Console manufacturers have facilitated the Youtube-ification of their devices, with integrated Twitch streaming and sharing features; the PlayStation 4 actually has a “Share” button its controller!

Of course, YouTube and Twitch aren’t the only factors driving single-player games to become open-world grindfests. Memory limitations are no longer an impediment to making huge worlds, and games with a great deal of content are more easily marketable and can sell very well. But tightly-designed narrative-driven AAA experiences, the kinds of games that don’t play well in short YouTube clips or on Twitch streams, are no longer the norm, and I mourn their loss.