Electronic Art's Games Label President says Single Player mode is dead

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Nathaniel Tolbert's picture

The article that this blog and personal opinions are based on is located here.

I was reading through some online sites through links that were posted here, and I came across this article listed above. As the title says, the president of a section of Electronic Arts says that single player games are, to quote the article, 'finished.' He backs his statement with the following, 'because online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.' I read his comments and was personally surprised. I know I'm in the minority here when I say that about the only multiplayer games that I play are MMO's. I could turn this into a rant because it bothers me that someone so close to the industry could think that people only want online functionality in their games, but I will attempt to maintain a level head, unlike some of the responses in the comments to the article.

My feelings are that even though as time progresses, single player mode will be de-emphasized in games (it already is, if you ask the people who have played the new Medal of Honor, and Call of Duty games, with their dismally short, and lackluster single player experiences.) but that doesn't mean that this mode should be dropped or reduced to a minor role. If this methodology was accepted industry wide, I wouldn't have gotten to play such interesting new style adventure games like, the whispered world, Lost Horizon, and Kaptain Brawe, a Brawe New World (Thank you Gamer's Gate for the nice sales on these games, so happy to get good games for a price a poor college student like myself can afford:-). These games are exclusively single player and where as they are not everyone's cup of tea, they would not work in a multiplayer fashion. I sucked it up and bought wings of prey, which is a WWII flight game, which has a sizable single player arc, at approximately 50 missions. The game also has a multiplayer function as well, and that is heavily emphasized, but I haven't played it yet.

One reason why I think that single player games will continue to thrive is pretty simple. There are formulas of games that do not work in a multiplayer format. For example, back after Leisure Suit Larry 3 came out, Al Lowe worked with Ken Williams on making a follow up to Leisure Suit Larry that was basically a graphical online game that had many people playing at once. It apparently worked really well as a system, but was scrapped. I cannot remember the exact reasons why, but I'm sure it had to do with the tech available at the time and I think they said something about adventure games of that style didn't work in an online environment like that. There is one game that was solely single player that went multiplayer that was a puzzler that actually worked in an online environment and that was the Myst online game. I never played it, because as it was explained there would be times when you would need others help to finish puzzles. Old adventure style games, such as the old text games of Zork, the King's quest series do not work well in an online version without considerable changes to the fundamentals of their gameplay.

There is another reason why I think single player mode will survive in games, but it is a little crude. The reason I don't play a lot of multiplayer is simply because I don't like playing games with people I don't know. The last game I played online was Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, and people fail out in a song and rage quit, causing the rest of the players to be dumped to the starting game screen. Rockband (the other faux instrument game I play) does the same thing, even in Rockband 3. I don't play multiplayer FPS because I get sick of all the 13 year old pre-pubescent boys screaming into their microphones that you are cheating because you killed them at a long distance with a lucky shot, or enduring their trash talk, because when I was that age, if I talked like that in front of my dad, I would have gotten a belt across my rear. I don't like people whom I haven't met. When I play games like Left 4 Dead, I call up my friends and play specifically with them, I don't set the game up for anyone to just join pell mell, it's a private game. Same with Civilization. People you know have specific mannerisms you can adjust for and you can complement them with your own mannerisms. People whom you don't know just seem to act like total asshats when they feel that there can be no retribution against them for their actions. (Yes, I know I used the term asshats, but I feel strongly about this specific function of multiplayer.) It was difficult enough for me to send an invite to anyone on this forum to play Lord of the Rings with me, because I only know of a small amount of you, and have never met you. I'm the type of person that wanders around in MMO's by themselves and declines all group invites.

So what is really going to happen in the future with regards to single playing experiences? My thought is that we will see more online enabled play modes, but I don't truly think that single player mode will ever go away. If it does, that will be the day that I stop buying new games, as I have no intention to spend my time online listening to all the immature people bitch and moan about this thing or the other. I like my single player games, and it will stay that way.

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
He is of course, mistaken.

He is of course, exaggerating at best and completely mistaken at worst. There will always be single player games and they most likely will be no less than 50% of all new games. Just like we've heard about the death of PC gaming for the past 10 years, the death of single player gaming is dug up every now and again. It makes a lazy, easy headline and a lazy, easy story, nothing more.

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Catatonic
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Joined: 05/20/2006
I think Gibeau was just

I think Gibeau was just trying to say that every game will be connected to a social network. It's largely true already with the way achievements and invitations are tied in to Facebook, Twitter, XBox Live, Apple Game Center, etc.

cdoty
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Joined: 07/21/2006
That's a one size fits all

That's a one size fits all statement, that really makes no sense. And, what does it really mean? Will they stop putting AI into games, because the opponents will always be human? Even in multiplayer games there is AI, so this can't be the case. The best I can come up with is that all achievements or trophies will be multiplayer based.

Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Bullocks...

That is just utter crap. Multi player games are not 'the greatest gaming experience on the world'. With both the PS3 and the 360 in the house and quite a number of games that have online multiplayer capabilities I find myself almost never go head to head with people I am not familiar with. I only like to play friends that I know on-line.

There are quite a few early 360 titles - and even some later ones - that have virtually dead online-multiplayer sections where there's just no people playing the games multiplayer. So the life span of multiplayer-only games is even shorter. Of course this does mean that EA can pump out new - similar - games even faster than they're doing right now already. LOL

Almost all the games I personally play are single player. But hey I am probably not representative of the game playing demographic.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I like multiplayer games, but

I like multiplayer games, but they have a long, long ways to go. The haphazard, random nature of it (and the seemingly infinite supply of 13-year olds who badly need a belt across their rear) ruin it for folks like me. And we've seen just how difficult (or impossible) it is even for a fairly close knit group of gamers like us to ever be online at the same time to play anything.

If I were 13 right now with a 360 and broadband, I'd undoubtedly be in gaming heaven right now. Assuming my dad didn't hear me cussing and apply said belt to my bottom!

At any rate, I only buy games with single player modes and preferably ones with long campaigns. That's why I gladly purchased DA:O. I love the single player campaigns in the Call of Duty games, but they are too short to justify the high price tag. I wish they'd just release the single player part separately, for cheap, and charge more for the multiplayer version. If I had a choice between a $30 game with no multiplayer vs. a $60-70 game with it, I'd never go the MP route. Not ever.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Please let me

Please let me translate:

"COD:BO and MW2 both made so much money we can fill olympic sized swimming pools with $100 bills and swim in them. WoW is making more money every 4 months than either of those. We like money! these are Multi player games. Singel player games still make money, but I can only fill a kiddie sized swimming pool with the money made from them. I want to fill more olympic sized pools with money and the chances of that happening with more Multi player games is greater. Did I mention I like money!"

hehe, you cant really blame him. Right now the FPS multi player game is the "hot" one.. making more of those and striking gold a few times will probebly be a better use of development time than 4-5 single player games that sell 500,000 each...
But with all things, trends, etc, this will change. RTS where the rage for a few years, heck in the 80's RPG where the HOT ticket. God games for awhile. FPS have been a pretty soild performer, and with the change to online focus can be said to be "new" again.....

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Money
clok1966 wrote:

Please let me translate:"COD:BO and MW2 both made so much money we can fill olympic sized swimming pools with $100 bills and swim in them. WoW is making more money every 4 months than either of those. We like money! these are Multi player games. Singel player games still make money, but I can only fill a kiddie sized swimming pool with the money made from them. I want to fill more olympic sized pools with money and the chances of that happening with more Multi player games is greater. Did I mention I like money!"..

The thing is, you don't have to be the guy making blockbusters every time. If you make a game for $50,000 and you make $150,000, that's still a very, very nice profit and quite sustainable. It seems like the dollar signs on this big games can blind folks to the potential for smaller markets and smaller profits, but profits are profits. I don't know about you, but even a few thousand dollars would be very, very welcome to me right now.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
I agree matt, making money

I agree matt, making money and making boatloads are both great..

In a way its where game making has gone wrong, and sadly really, right too. In the past, games where made by people who LOVED to make games. There are many still left, but they are no longer running the show, they are just part of the show. We are victims of our own success. games have alwasy been made for fun, and if sold, for money. But with the games industry growing people who dont play games are taking a look and are producing games. They dont care how the game plays, they care about the bottom line. And like Walmart, they are eating up the small time guys who do it for fun (and to make enough money to eat). The success is killing the small time guy. I look at guys like Peter Molynex (spelling) BULLFROG game son the AMIGA where all class, all fun and all something different. They marched to a different drummer and succeded. When Peter talks about games I still think he LOVES makeing um, he may talk to long about stuff he want to do but cant in the end. but I think his hype is not to sell the game, but becuase he thinks it will be a great game with feature XXX in it.. I dont htink alot of those guys run companies anymore. Thats simply why you dont see the small time stuff form big companies.
the big companies are doing it to themsleves too.. making a game for 5 million and making 10 seems like a great idea. But they seem to be "swinging for the fence" every game, so what if they strike out 5 times, if they hit a HUGE home run ever 5 strike outs its all good. Small time stuff does seem to make more sence (and just ask POPCAP (are they not worth the most as game company, over EA etcc? I thought i read that like 6 months ago).. Im not really sure why EA/Activision/MS havent grasped this. the phone market should be a great indication.

There are still HUGE indie success, in fact maybe more nowdays then ever.. but thats only becuase of digital downloads.. one thing.. many of us may not like missing boxs.. but think of all the great games you would never see if it where nt for the digital stuff.. No Braid, No Minecrat, No angry Birds (still havent played it) etcc..

When Big business gets in the mix, its not about turning a profit, its about how big a profit can you turn. games are no longer for us 'game geeks" and its our success that has changed it.. not our failure (games i mean not us).

Keith Burgun
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Joined: 09/06/2010
Hmm

This single player says Electronic Arts is dead.

Anonymous (not verified)
I agree!!!!

I agree!!!!

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