What are your thoughts on games’ recent focus on multiplayer and co-op single player modes? Does this spell the end to the single-player experience?
Courtney Osborn, Founder & Editor in Chief:
Does this spell the end to the single-player experience? No. Absolutely not. We are not going to see anything just disappear in the industry. There will always be single-player games, just like there will always be co-op and multiplayer games. I have no real issue with the rise of these types of games lately as they are fun when done right; such as Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Destiny. That remains to be seen for games like Evolve. That being said, there is an audience out there that eats those kinds of games up, so if companies want to develop games for those types of gamers, more power to ya. We need a wide range of games in the industry, otherwise it would be boring. Personally, I am a single player game type of gamer though.
Lou Contaldi, Senior Editor:
If you asked me this question a year ago I would spit vitriol and hatred in your direction — I hated the idea of co-op games on any level; competitive, cooperative, you name it! However, over the year I have been blessed with some truly fantastic games (Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Destiny’s Alpha to name a few) that have made me a believer. I don’t think we should ever do away with the single player experience, but co-op has found a small little niche in my heart. And it is staying there for good.
Shawn Richards, Editor:
I like to have it as an option, but I was once on the train of “Oh, no. Single player is dead.” However, with games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and inFAMOUS: Second Son just to name two, I am hopeful that single player campaigns. I would like there to be a multiplayer mechanic in games unless they feel like it doesn’t need it like Tomb Raider did. If a game has co-op, it is usually good if it has a focus like in Mario games or in Borderlands. Other than that, if it feels like it has been tacked on, then it should be better left off. I’m looking at you, Knack.
Long story short, this is actually one practice I can get behind, even though I usually adopt the “Colin Moriarty style” of multiplayer (no voice chat). However, if you see me play multiplayer, feel free to play on. You can find me @LittleBigHamm on everything.
Brett Medlock, Editor:
It honestly upsets me a little. I’m the type of gamer who doesn’t really enjoy playing with other people. My only (personal) issue with it is that developers are using wasted assets on multiplayer modes. However, I know that might not always be the case. Also, I still think we will see high quality single player experiences for a long time. (I can’t wait for Arkham Knight!)
Steven Shearer, Editor:
As long as there is single player then I do not care about multiplayer. And as far as I’m aware, single player will never go away due to the demand of it. Many people – myself included – play single player and rarely play multiplayer. Now, in terms of co-op, I don’t mind games taking that approach! I usually like co-op more than multiplayer.
Ryan Latuso, Editor:
The key to this trend is to allow seamless transition between the 2 where neither is required. Borderlands did an excellent job with this. If I have the ability to play the same story in co-op or single player then I am fine.
Single player may have more options but it isn’t going anywhere. Some developers will not do a good job of this just like some don’t make good games. This is no better or worse than a separate single player and multiplayer experience like we have now where often times one is forced and doesn’t have the high quality the other does.
Dustin LaRoe, Editor:
I’m going to say that adding in co-op is a good thing. Drop-in/drop-out co-op is fantastic if done right in a game like Borderlands or Diablo. I’d wager that those games will always be far more fun with a partner or two. There are a lot of concessions and adjustments made behind the scenes to balance the game in those instances.
Other games like Halo or Mario can suffer from adding in more players but not changing the overall game to match. These games are still wonderful and fun to play alone and with friends, but the experience can suffer with co-op.
I doubt that Bethesda will shoehorn co-op into games like Fallout 4. That doesn’t seem to be their style. Wolfenstein sold just fine as a single-player affair.
I think single player games aren’t ever going to be in danger. We are just witnessing the growth of the technology to support more multiplayer modes. Hell, both Double Dragon and Contra were co-op on the NES back when I was a kid.
Nothing much has really changed, except for the freedom that technology affords the developers to craft an experience. We are still running down hallways shooting dudes. Sometimes it’s solo; sometimes it’s co-op.
Benjamin Luthi, Editor:
Certainly it depends on the game. The New Super Mario Bros. series has shown that a game can be great with one player or with many. On the other hand, some games only really work as single-player (I’m looking at you, Metroid Prime).
I don’t think single player games will ever go away entirely. Sometimes you just need to spend some time gaming alone, and games like Braid and Limbo are perfect for one player. Besides, there will always be people who have no friends. Trust me on this one.
Myles Farrington, Editor:
I love it. As you all may have heard me say in one of the podcasts/QTEs, if a game is trying to sell me one way to do it is to add a strong co-op mechanic. The focus on co-op is one of the things that got me hyped enough over Destiny to write a series about it. Multiplayer is something that most games should have. However, it’s never good when the multiplayer mode is just tacked on as a second thought.
On the other hand, I do appreciate a good single player experience as well, and I don’t think they’re dying. Some games just suffer with other players, the really story focused ones. With games like this as strong as ever in the indie genre, I’ve got no worries over the health of single player experiences. They’ll be just fine.
Aaron Dobbe, Editor:
I… don’t really like multiplayer games. There are exceptions, of course, usually in the racing and fighting genres, but for the most part I want a solid single-player experience where my destiny is controlled by myself and myself alone. The quickest way to make me disinterested in a game is saying it’s designed for co-op/multiplayer.
I don’t expect the single-player experience to go away anytime soon, for that simple reason that the audience for good single-player content is there. Further, there are some genres/gameplay ideas that just don’t work in a multiplayer-only setting; traditional JRPGs come to mind, and certainly those aren’t going away anytime soon. Basically, we’re seeing more multiplayer/co-op experiences because the technology is making it possible, not because there’s no longer demand for single-player experiences.
Audrey Lips, Editor:
I like having the option of multiplayer/co-op and single player. But, that’s just it: the OPTION. Unless I’m playing Mario Kart 8 or some other game that relies heavily on the “play with your friends” mantra, I almost always choose to play games alone. Guess you could say it’s my Type A controlling personality.
However, I don’t necessarily believe that making more games multiplayer or co-ops means the end to the single player experience. As technology grows and develops, the world becomes more and more connected. The same applies to the gaming world, so I see it as games adjusting to the ever-progressing connection that video gaming technology provides.
Mike Morrissette, Editor:
I think we’re beginning to see the downfall of the true “single-player” experience. Even with most single-player games, there are multi-player experiences imbedded within the gameplay. If we take Dark Souls as an example, one has the choice to play with others via the summon signs, but the ghosts of other players, and the real threat of being invaded learn the game into the multiplayer realm. We could even argue that the idea of streaming gameplay and being able to “share your greatest moments” have taken gaming into the world of shared experiences.
I’m honestly okay with this approach so long as I am able to opt out of the multiplayer whenever I choose, I think it’s interesting and I guess we’ll truly find out the future of games in the upcoming years.