By Sam Coles:
With the recent closure of Visceral Games by EA, a lot of people seem to think that singleplayer experiences are in jeopardy. Are they? No I don’t think so, yes multiplayer games are talked about more, but that has always been the case as they can evolve and have more longevity compared to a solo experience.
The current generation of gaming has been given a label of being a multiplayer environment; yes there have been a lot of games that are purely multiplayer with varying degrees of success, such as Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege.
Where did all of this start? Well if we look further back to the 7th generation of consoles with the launch of the Xbox 360 we saw a shift with multiplayer in general with couch co-op and competitive being push to the way side for online. Games like Halo 3, Gears of War and the big one Call of Duty 4 showed that consoles could do online multiplayer, after Call of Duty 4 we saw a lot of companies shoving cookies cutter online modes in games that were singleplayer experiences first and foremost. Games like Uncharted, GTA IV and the Tomb Raider (2013) had these forgettable modes that were overshadowed by the solo experience. Call of Duty started to stray away from their campaigns and started to focus their efforts on the multiplayer as it was aspect that was marketed the most as the singleplayer generally got brief trailers.
When the Xbox One and PS4 launched it was clear that the online environment was the future even for games that were solo, but most people pushed back at this notion because reasonably why should you be connected to the net even with a solo experience. Sony and Microsoft have backpedalled to a certain extent with the online constant connection for solo games with a few exceptions. However what shifted the focus on multiplayer was due to the controversial business practise of micro transaction loot boxes/micro DLCs. These can be shortcuts for weapons, gear and power ups for those who are too lazy to you know play the game like you had to back in the day, but sometimes they can be harmless like cosmetic stuff for your character. This isn’t the problem, the other issue is that they are bleeding into singleplayer games, a recent example is Shadow of War, which lots of gamers and critics have pointed out that the game grinds to a halt in the later stages in the game unless you spend real money on the game.
However there have been a lot of good singleplayer games the past two years that I have been reviewing on the Xbox One and PS4. We have had games like The Witcher 3 one of the best games of the generation with a superb story and beautiful world to explore, plus I am a huge fan of the series books and games. 2017 alone has been a great year for solo experiences with games such as, Horizon Zero Dawn, Yakuza 0 and Kiwami, The Evil Within 2, Nioh and the list goes on.
The statement of “Singleplayer games are dying” is absolute cobblers because there will always be an audience for both it has been like that for over a decade. Think about the games that are still widely discussed today, Bioshock, Call of Duty 4(campaign), Halo 3, Oblivion and Resident Evil 4. Those games came out over a decade ago and people are still talking about them, singleplayer games have more staying power because they can have replayablity, beautiful and immersive worlds to explore and characters that you have genuinely got to know throughout a series and grow to love them as if they are your real friends.
We all need to calm down and look at the future with the solo experiences that publishers are giving us such as Yakuza 6, Death Stranding, Detroit: Becoming Human and hell even Far Cry 5. So no singleplayer games are not going anywhere that is an absolute absurd statement, there is always room for both audiences who are competitive and those who want to get lost in a world and go at their own pace.