For the second half of 2017, single player games have been the topic of risk, either from publishers canceling studios for making a narrative-driven, single-player game or the increase of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)-type games. Tales of single player games going away isn’t new, and both the narrative and facts haven’t changed in the slightest. The fear first started with games like Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront II, not including a campaign in the game causing players to wonder if multiplayer-focused games were erasing single player experiences for good.
Fans reception was a mixed bag. Players always said they skipped the campaign and went straight to multiplayer anyway. That’s why they bought the game in the first place. When Titanfall 2 and Star Wars Battlefront II came out, a campaign was made (six to seven hours at max) and was brought to again, a mixed reception by fans. Some thought the Titanfall 2 campaign was incredible and revolutionary. Others thought it was short and didn’t really impact the players in any significant way with boring level layout, lazy story and occasional great moments but nothing of empowerment.
Star Wars Battlefront II soured fans of campaigns by not ending the game when the base campaign ended. Instead, EA thought it would be a great idea to have story DLC to finish the campaign instead of, you know, when the base game was finished. This left fans feeling betrayed and wondering, “When will single player truly come back to gaming?” Well, it’s never left and never will in the forsaken future. Media and outraged fans who liked to get polarized over anything like to think single player games are gone because big publishers like EA are dropping a studio or shortening campaigns to almost DLC amounts.
If the outrage quieted down and fans brought their ears closer to the horizon, they would hear about games like Nier: Automata, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Outlast 2, Night in the Woods, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Wolfenstein II, The Evil Within 2. Considering 2018, they don’t seem to be going away with blockbusters like The Last of Us Part 2, God of War, Far Cry 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
In fact, single players games are stronger than they’ve ever been. Take away the hypocrisy and hysteria of the multiplayer community and there’s a beautiful horizon with a vast selection of games to pick from, each bringing their unique spin and gameplay to the genre. Just because a big publisher like EA (and EA will only do this) shuts down a studio working on a single player focused Star Wars game doesn’t mean single player games are dead. The market is leaning into Destiny like games because that’s what the market is pushing for (i.e. loot boxes and microtransactions).
EA hasn’t had the strongest records of focused single player games and maybe that’s because their audience doesn’t want single player games in the first place. Which begs the question in the first place? Why tell Visceral Games to make a single player focused game in the first place if only the studio was going to be shut down years later? The theory that EA hates single player games just isn’t true because they’re funding an indie game called A Way Out that’s coming out in early 2018.
The fact is, Visceral Games was in deep trouble far from EA hating single player games. Instead, the state of Visceral Games wasn’t in the best shape after Dead Space 3 or even Battlefield Hardline. Both games coming too unpleasant fan bases and depressing sales numbers. For EA, putting millions of dollars into a game and not breaking even wasn’t in the future they wanted for the publisher or their developers. Visceral Games needed to change, and EA thought perhaps a Star Wars game would automatically sell millions of copies. One thing stood in EA’s way — EA themselves. Seeing an in-depth demo, concept art, storyline and fan excitement for an action-adventure Star Wars game didn’t guide EA to see the potential of what the game could have been. With the track record of Visceral Games past two games, could anyone blame EA for their decision?
Some might see the death of Visceral Games as a parrel death to single player games, but no one should worry. There’s many developers who are making single players with a publisher who trust them. Just because there’s a rotten apple in the bunch doesn’t mean the whole is tainted. Instead, this unnecessary hysteria has brought one lesson into shape. Single player games aren’t dead, they're growing far beyond the galaxy.