So, you’ve read single player games are dying out. Here’s why that’s some BS.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not recognize the current foothold that multiplayer games like Fortnite and Overwatch have over the current conversation around video games. So those of us who pay attention to games media and aren’t a starfish who’s best friend lives in a pineapple under the sea may have noticed another trend in the gaming press lately – the idea that single player focused games are dying. Preposterous!
Single-player games have and always will be the primary way developers push the art form in new directions. We personally think this idea is absurd and have taken it upon ourselves to look into where this came from and provide you, our community, with some light facts proving why the “sky isn’t falling” for single-player games.
The whole conversation around the death of single-player was kickstarted when Electronic Arts decided to close down Visceral Games; the studio working on a highly anticipated single-player action game set in the Star Wars universe and directed by Amy Hennig (who previously worked on Uncharted). EA stated that they were changing their focus to multiplayer-centric titles citing a “fundamental shift in the marketplace.” Cue mass hysteria.
What shift in the marketplace? Do gamers only want multiplayer titles? What’s going to happen to my precious Star Wars? Honestly, that third question is a blog post for another day. But the first two were legitimate concerns. One of the biggest publishers in the industry saw some sort of consumer trend that proved they needed to focus on multiplayer. Then the waves of outrage quelled after gamers picked up their Battlefront II pitchforks and went straight for EA’s sense of pride and accomplishment. Months after that fiasco, God of War – a single-player game – has proven to everyone that great stories, advanced graphics, and profitability are all still alive and well even with multiplayer removed.
BUT the proof in the pudding didn’t start with God of War. As a matter of fact, God of War is the most recent title in a long list of games in the past year that prove that single-player games continue to be the state of the art experiences that push the boundaries of their respective platforms. The top Metacritic scores from 2017 alone show that single player games are critical darlings. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Wolfenstein II were all universally praised games that released last year. Yes, maybe multiplayer games tend to rake in more dough, but the industry hasn’t shown any real reason why single-player and multiplayer games can’t coexist.
Do we ever wonder whether Hollywood will stop hiring the Cohen brothers because superhero films have been known to become billion dollar properties? No. Arthouse films still take home all of the awards and Robert Downey Jr. still gets to buy himself a shiny new Jaeger-LeCoultre after every Marvel movie he’s in basically prints money. And that’s not a bad thing.
The gaming industry is the same way. There will be games designed to make money and appeal to the widest audience possible, and there will be games that push the medium in a new direction. We just need to take a page out of the film industry’s book and accept that these two philosophies can exist side by side and great games can come in hundreds of shapes and sizes.
So why do we keep seeing the single-player games dying question come up every few months? The answer is much simpler than you might think. It’s a buzzworthy headline. And as a group that writes a lot of things that need to grab people’s’ attention, we’ll jump at any opportunity to entice readers that isn’t invasive and doesn’t break any laws.
Good news is, even if we’re wrong, KontrolFreek will always be there for gamers looking to enhance their experience. And I’ll still be here making sure our audience is informed about everything we have cooking up inside our offices and out there in the wide world of video games. For more info on how you can upgrade your play experience, head to KontrolFreek.com.