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Whats wrong with single player games?

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 22, 2014

As I sat down to write my second to last column of the year, I found myself thinking, "what trend in the video game industry do I absolutely hate?" After approximately 42 seconds of soul-searching, the answer was obvious: multiplayer centric gaming.
For years now, companies across the boardhave been shipping big budget FPS titles to a market with generally poor single-player modes. The campaigns of many recent titles in franchises ranging from "Call of Duty" to "Battlefield" and "Medal of Honor" can almost unanimously be at best described as mediocre, and at worst, unbearable.
This problem is a result of publishers realizing that many gamers today buy certain titles solely for the multiplayer mode.
There's no problem with that. But as one of many who play single player titles almost exclusively, I don't think its fair to charge consumers a full $60 for what is half a game. Perhaps, I'm a bit in the extreme here. Full disclosure: I'm the type of gamer who plays MMO's like "Star Wars: The Old Republic" alone and bought "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" solely for its single player component. If you decide to focus solely on a multiplayer experience that's fine, but don't expect me to shell out the same amount of cash required of a more "complete" experience.
Additionally, the past few years has seen a number of single player centric titles include a multiplayer component in an attempt by publishers to keep gamers playing their titles longer.
Titles such as the 2013 "Tomb Raider" and recents entries in the "Assassin's Creed" series are prime examples of this. While each title's primary focus is to provide a well produced single player experience - which they do - they inexplicably contain unnecessary cookie cutter multiplayer modes which stand as nothing more than a complete waste of time. Without providing gamers with a worthwhile experience, not only are they unlikely to engage with a title's multiplayer mode, but precious development resources are wasted. These resources could have been put to better use improving the core single player experience or better yet, if developers are so concerned about keeping gamers invested in their titles, they could have been used to fast track the development of the game's inevitable sequel.
Some development studios including Irrational Games and Rocksteady are ahead of the curb in this regard. Each chose not to include a multiplayer mode in "Bioshock Infinite" and "Batman: Arkham City" respectively in an effort to keep the studio focused on the core single player experience.
There's nothing inherently bad about titles which include both single and multi player modes so long as the quality of the finished product is consistent. There are a select few titles out there that manage to provide gamers with a high quality single player campaign in addition to an exceptional multiplayer experience that adapts the campaign's gameplay components successfully to a multiplayer setting. Fans of titles such as "Halo 4," "Portal 2," "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" and "The Last of Us" should know exactly what I'm talking about.
 


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