I don’t think it is, really. Arkane’s recent work in both Prey and Death Of The Outsider hasn’t been absurdly deep or well-paced in the writing department, but they’re still about more than one thing and don’t have some director-masturbatory Andrew Ryan sequence at the beginning. Hell, Prey’s whole neoliberalism crit deal doesn’t show its hand for a while, and when it does it still writes characters as if they’re humans making mistakes in a broken system, rather than Individual Baddie Who Shows How Bad X Ideology Is.
I just feel we’re past the need to be afraid of nuance in our immersive sims now. Arkane & Ubisoft’s last decade of output (good and bad) and Breath Of The Wild give us molds to present a lot of immersive sim design goals to uninitiated players in a palatable way, sometimes in both written stories and emergent stories, sometimes in just the latter, and it turns out a whole lot of people really do desire that kind of expressive space in games.
On the flip side of that coin, they couldn’t get too bold with the stealth, level design or faux-simulation layers in Bioshock because scripted spectacle ruled at the time, and PC gamerfans are way too fond of the ableist-ass “dumbed down” buzzterm to offer any valuable crit that designers could actually use to evolve the genre. Ken Levine was already developing a his self-aggrandizing anti-ideology schtick by SS2, and now he could do that shit with more spectacle for attention, so that was what defined the BS “genre” and evidently still does.
I dunno, I feel like imsims shouldn’t and aren’t going to go away. Even on a market level, their design goals lend themselves to the “water cooler stories” dynamic that contributes hugely to word of mouth, doubly so in the era of Lets Plays. Bioshock™ games are basically a seperate entity at this point, but also increasingly dated as the years pass, and nobody producing them seems interested in pushing past Ken Levine’s centrist all-ideologies-are-bad-somehow ethos.