God of War | Santa Monica Studios
ARE SINGLE PLAYER GAMES DEAD?
Can linear games “continue to "deliver” a re-playable experience?
by Felipe Parada
A while back I wrote about the closure of Visceral games and how its closure could have a mass effect on the Single Player experience (see what I did there?) It seemed like the state of single player games was in jeopardy and could run the risk of dying off in favor of games like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. We can’t ignore the fact that both Fornite and PUBG are absolute cultural juggernauts at the moment and it doesn’t seem like their massive success is dying out any time soon. With all this current data, it seemed like the single player experience was on the verge of becoming a relic of the past, like a Blockbuster Card or going to Toys“R”Us. It is kind of depressing.
Fast forward to April 2018 and we finally have the chance to play the super successful Playstation 4 exclusive, God of War. As reported by sites like IGN, Gamespot, and Polygon just to name a few, God of War sold a whopping 3.1 million copies in just three days……just THREE DAYS!!!!!! This made God of War Sony’s fastest selling exclusive title beating out Horizon Zero Dawn, which was another single player focused game mind you. After playing God of War, I began to think back about the comment that EA’s Blake Jorgensen made about the state of single player games.
“Linear games wouldn’t “deliver” an experience that players wanted to come back and enjoy for a long time.”
After reading that statement a couple of times I realize that this is such an EA response, so much that it’s borderline insulting. EA want in on that PUBG and Fornite loot box money, plain and simple. They are more concerned with their shareholders than actually putting in the time, and using their resources effectively, to make a good game. EA is not the only one moving away from single player focused games, other companies are slowly starting to adopt these “always live” additions in their games (I’m looking at you Ubisoft).
This raises the question again, are single player focused games really dead? According to Sony Interactive Entertainment and Santa Monic Studios’ Corey Balrog , single player focus games are not only alive and well but they are not going anywhere. How did Santa Monica Studios prove that statement? I got three words for you, God …of…War.
In a recent interview with IGN Corey Barlog went to say:
“It’s not about a competition between multiplayer and single player. It’s not about any of them being alive or dead, right? It is Schrödinger's cat.”
“We are alive and dead at the same time, right? And we will always be that way. And it will be an ebb and flow through time.”
I love this quote. It really shows the love and care that went into making God of War. If anyone can use the Schrödinger's cat reference successfully, is ok in my book. And that's the thing, he's not trying to mislead anyone. There's nothing misleading about this game, there's no sneaky micro transactions that have been forced in to this game. It's a bad ass game....plain and simple. God of War also has proven the importance of single player focused content. Sure God of War could have implemented some sort of micro transactions like Assassin's Creed Origins did but Sony and Santa Monica Studios were more concerned with developing a complete game. And that's exactly what we got...."A complete game", a game that feels like it was designed with the player in mind.
Let this masterpiece serve as a cold cut message to all greedy game publishers who really believe that single player focused games are dead. Look at games like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn and Bloodborne and tell us again how single player games are dead. Look at the reviews that these games are getting and tell us again that WE don't want to play single player games. I believe that we would respect you more if you told us the truth instead of trying to tell us what you think we want to play. If you focused more on delivering a complete experience rather than nickle and dime your consumer than it really doesnt matter if the game is single player, multiplayer or a game as a service. If its good, we are going to play it, it's that simple.
Games with no single player component are not the way of the future but some games have been able to pull it off. Just look at games like Rainbow Six Seige and Overwatch and you will see where the gaming industry is headed. You don't have to resort to shady business tactics to survive and thrive in the industry. And the worst thing that can possibly happen is publishers being fearful of releasing a good game because they dont feel that it can be monetized over the long haul. Publishers don't realize the importance of single player games and God if War proved that we want good single player games. Single player games are not dying, not by a long shot.
What are your thoughts? Are single player games dead or are they stronger than ever?