Open world God of War could never compete with Ubisoft or Rockstar, says developer

God of War director Cory Barlog doesn’t think an open world God of War could compete in the genre. Even so, last year’s God of War was a meaty, varied, and open game that blurred the line between linear and open world games.

Venture Beat published a new post-mortem interview with God of War director Cory Barlog earlier this week. Barlog said he doesn’t think the team at Sony Santa Monica has the resources that games like Red Dead Redemption 2 had.

“We kept describing it as “wide linear.” I was adamant that we couldn’t make an open world game. The cost of entry and the expectation level is so high that we’d never compete. We just don’t have the infrastructure and the systems. I don’t want to do that.”

“Yeah, I think they [Rockstar] were closer to 4,000. We were 300, at peak. At the time I thought the 1,600 that Ubisoft had on Assassin’s Creed was a lot. To do these things, to do the complexity they have, you just need a lot of people. For us, not only do we not want to invest in that aspect of it, but to me the world needed to feel large, and not empty, but with surprising moments of discovery. It could feel like there were areas where there’s not a lot going on, and then all of a sudden an entirely new level opens up that you weren’t directed to, that you just discovered.”

Barlog is at odds with fellow Sony stablemate Guerrilla Games, whose open world Horizon: Zero Dawn was created by a team in the hundreds, not thousands. The “wide linear” term came from one of the level designers, who likely heard Naughty Dog use it to describe parts of Uncharted 4.

Sony Santa Monica’s hesitance to enter the realm of open world games paid off with last year’s God of War. The game sold millions, was a massive critical success, and won big awards around the industry. Time will tell if the studio sticks to the same “wide linear” format for its next game.