It's definitely a thorny problem, especially in the age of open-world freedom.
Bioshock creator Ken Levine has been thinking about new ways to approach interactive storytelling. In speaking to Digital Spy , the Irrational Games co-founder said that in the new generation, he will attempt to make a highly "replayable" narrative:
"It's sort of, you play it and have that experience, and I've been thinking about how you make narrative replayable. And that's not a simple problem. It's fairly complex. The combination of content and technology – I've been thinking about that."
Levine is only in the "super-early" stages of thinking about Irrational's next game, but he will have a GDC talk in which he'll address this story-related conundrum. The Bioshock games have always thrived on intricate, engaging stories; this focus set them apart from other shooters. Well, that, and the RPG elements of the gameplay.
For my part, I'll replay a campaign if I loved the story and I loved the gameplay. Given all the games out there these days, that's the only way I'll feel enticed into another play-through. How about you?