Opinion

Has the end come for Single Player Games? (Thanks PUBG)

There’s been a fair amount of debating over the last few years regarding a single matter (puns, yep). Gamers have been divided and debated whether or not single player games are dying out and if we should be expecting everyone to be playing PUBG within the next few years. Well, to be honest, I’m not a fan of PUBG or Fortnite so I won’t be joining in and like me, there are others thankfully. But is there reason to worry and should we support single player campaigns more so than ever!

Has PUBG ruined everything?

Now in the last year, the impact of PUBG and Fortnite has indeed shaken some developers/publishers to try their luck in the Battle Royal genre, even if it doesn’t make any sense. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be highly successful no matter what but Rockstar have very oddly implemented a Battle Royal mode. Why? Has it been on the cards for a while or a cheap cash grab? Well, the latter sounds more logical. It makes sense in some context but seems more baffling in others. Unless there is a new dynamic they’re implementing through RDR2 mechanics, otherwise, it seems pointless.

Then the news that Black Ops 4 will not have a single player campaign and instead just be a massive Battle Royal mode. Great stuff Activision. So instead of innovating and improving the single player formula, it’s been decided to push a Battle Royal mode where loot creates can be implemented and sold to millions of potential gamers.

Soon enough more publishers will do this and who knows what we’ll have next: The Last of Us Battle Royale, Gears of War Battle Royale or even Crash Bandicoot Battle Royale!

A means to sell us more crap

Multiplayer games have always been a means to sell additional items to gullible gamers. We were once treated to a rarity of DLCs such as horse armor (which 17-year-old me bought) and minor cosmetics. But now days are engulfed with temptations of gaining advantages and lured in with sneaky “pay to win” structures. Publishers have been crafty for a long time and some gamers have fallen into the pit of add-ons, cosmetics, additional boosts in XP and map packs. It’s easy money and at this time, Battle Royal modes are a nice way to achieve massive funds for publishers.

With single games it much more difficult to sell additional chapters and for good reason. History often repeats itself and shows that most developers/publishers can’t craft the same captivating experience within a story DLC that lasts less than an hour. Season passes could be a thing of the past soon enough as gamers aren’t too happy to shell out major bucks for content that could be potentially crap.

Looking at you Ubisoft.

It’s true that multiplayer packs appeal to the greater majority and even yours truly has bought a couple of packs in Gears of War 4. But you can’t blame me as the multiplayer modes were so much more captivating than the single player, being worthy of my time and investment. However, I and others have been smart enough to avoid temptation and games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 have been punished for their sins. Gamers are becoming savvier to the publishers’ tactics and greed can be smelt a mile away.

No longer walking the lonesome road?

There’s nothing wrong with multiplayer games, they do appeal to the wider margin of gamers and single-player campaigns can be rather tough to craft. It takes years of development and millions of dollars to make Blockbuster adventures and at times, gamers have not been bothered to invest their time into them. But the same goes for multiplayer games. Hero Shooters were the next big thing yet only drew popularity due to one game in all honesty. Lawbreakers and Battleborn were major causalities for their developer/publishers and killed off that popular genre.

There have been plenty of examples and many of these great series, such as Timesplitters, Gears of War and even Call of Duty have survived due to the popularity of their multiplayer modes. It makes sense as playing a campaign only once is normal for most gamers, but the multiplayer can last a lifetime. That is until the publishers shut down the servers.

And this is a good point.

No more Last of Us type experiences?

But don’t despair

Like many other trends in gaming and pop cult, they usually die out after a while and what remains usually are the tried and tested products we’ve played since the dawn of gaming. To be fair one of the first games ever was a multiplayer (Pong for those who don’t know) but since then we’ve had plenty of great single player games and plenty of awful ones too. That’s the law of everything, there’s good and bad and the great.

Games like The Last of Us, Resident Evil 7, God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn have made big waves in the market and sold millions of units. Event publishers like Ea are trying new tactics in their single player games (as their multiplayer games have fallen short recently) with Battlefield and Titanfall 2.

Single player campaigns can be purely amazing, with the right amount of clever storytelling, cinematic flair, grit, compassion and innovated ways to murder your enemies (90% of single player games usually involve mass murder but it’s all justified – as saying Nathan Drake is a serial killer just sounds very worrying). But we yearn for adventures and personal ones too. Even a single player game can get people talking, friends comparing and enemies becoming friends when they murder suicidal laughing maniacs like in Killer 7.

Even the fans don’t like this game?

Final Thoughts

Multiplayer games can be immersive and innovating but are of the moment while single-player campaigns are forever. In the long run you’ll most likely play Doom’s campaign over and over rather than play against a bunch or aggressively frustrated 12 year boys for more than 10 minutes. Even PUBG has a mostly negative reception from critics and gamers so will it even last to the end of this year? Besides PUBG is suing another Epic for “copying” their idea, even though the engine used to make PUBG belongs to Epic and the concept has been done before. Plus there are plenty of Battle Royale games which have failed, such as The Culling. Maybe it didn’t appeal to enough children as these games are clearly for children.

Remember, older people like escaping into fantasies, survival horrors and action packed adventures because we have money and publishers know this. No way will Single players games go out of fashion.

Although I swear to God if Gears of War 5 is just a Battle Royale mode, I’ll f***ing lose my s***.


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