I am sure that you’ve heard that the single player campaign is dead, but I am here to declare that without the single player element, games as a whole, are dead.  It is a bold statement but the evidence is all around us and it seems like no one is paying attention.  It seems like you only hear about the next big multi player experience whether that comes from Battlefield or Call of Duty but isn’t there more to games than just a death match?  Not only I, but the rest of the gaming community, screams an unequivocal yes.  Let us explore how we are saying just that.

EA Games label president Frank Gibeau was quoted as saying “I firmly believe that the way the products we have are going they, need to be connected online. Multiplayer is one form of that.”  Is that really true and if it is how do you account for the success of Mass Effect series, God of War or Final Fantasy?  The answer is you can’t, based on the theory that every game you play has to contain some form of online connectivity to be successful.  I would be the first person to say that multiplayer games are important for gaming, and just based on the sales of the Call of Duty franchise and the public reaction the the PSN outage, one could plainly see that.  Despite the overwhelming popularity of online games, there still is and always will be, a place for single player games.

Games originally started out as multi player experiences only.  Whether you consider Tennis for Two or Pong as the first game ever created, they both needed two players to play the game.  Games, in general, stayed that way until gaming technology improved enough to allow artificial intelligence to take over the control of the opposition.  From that point on single player and multi player have formed a symbiosis with one another and they co-existed peacefully for decades.  The reason for that is you can not predict or force another human player to act or play a certain way.  There are always going to be the people that shoot their own team mates, drive the wrong way on the race track and curse you out over the headset.  The single player campaign was a safe haven against outside distraction where you could play a game and learn to love it for what it is.  It was a paradise where your team mates never shot you, your opponents always drove towards the finish line and you never got cursed out unintentionally.   More importantly than the controlled game play is the fact that games can tell you a story and really show off their artistic sides.  The whole reason why Square Enix is still around is because of the way they told a story through the single player campaign.

If the games industry would move to an all multi player model, I see nothing but disaster ahead.  Sure the multi player fans would be happy to begin with but where would the story telling go?  How could you stay emotionally locked into a a story if you are playing the game by the rules while your human controlled team mates are doing 360s in the corner.  People are just too unpredictable and you can put money on the fact that the same people that bought the game are going to be the ones that prevent other users from enjoying it the way the game was designed to be enjoyed.  That is not a sustainable business model and I see it going down by the wayside.  There is only one multi player only game that has found overwhelming success and is worthy of changing an industry over and frankly one game isn’t enough.

Frank Gibeau also said “be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.”  Here is where I agree with Gibeau.  You can’t allow studios to rush through and push out a “fire-and-forget” product.  You have to let them feel out a concept and make the game that they are passionate about.  That is why you shouldn’t push developers to meet certain deadlines.  The game industry would be much better off left to their own creative licenses and the sooner publishers realize that, the closer we all get to gaming nirvana.  Too many times do studios get forced into making a single player game about a movie or something like that and get strong armed into making this single player game in a year or less.  Those are the times that you see a terrible game and those games make people think that the industry at large would be better off multi player only.

I say that single player games are what make games great.  We gamers have such fond memories of those certain single player stories that stay with us as closely as our favorite movies do.  It’s important to the gaming industry that we experience games for the art forms that they are rather than the multi player entities than can become.  That isn’t to say that multi player games can’t be great themselves but there isn’t a reason to push one more than the other.  The more variety and choice we have as gamers, the further the industry can go.  If the only game we could play was Call of Duty and its clones, the gaming landscape might as well be a graveyard.  We gamers deserve more and we should make sure that the publishers know that.

About The Author

Joe Marchese is the founder / Editor in Chief of New Gamer Nation. He has been a gamer for his whole life but has been focusing on his passion to deliver the industry's new to New Gamer Nation. He is an expert of video game culture and has been featured on Fox News Online. Don't be shy to reach out and let him know what you think!

  • Spencer

    I have a natural predisposition for multiplayer games. Matter of fact in most (almost all) FPS I never open the campaign. For me it is the drop in drop out, lack of commiment to the story that makes these environments so accessable to me (Kids and shit). I do however have single player only favorites. (Final Fantasy 10, Oblivion and Fallout3). I am really becoming convinced that the single/multi aspect of the game needs to become blurred. Despite reviews I believe BRINK is amazing and they have done a great job here. Demon souls is the greatest example of this concept that I can think of..incredible when your single player game becomes multiplayer as you get invaded…tonnes of tension. With Final Fantasy online I think you are seeing the birth of Square making changes. Even Bethesda is making changes with Rage coming up soon. Many of those classic “single player” style publishers are including these options. I guess here is where your article comes in play…are they doing it well.

    Nice Article

    • Pilot

      I do believe there is room for more games that blur the lines between single and multi player I just don’t feel like they necessarily need more interaction between human players. I just couldn’t see games like Fallout working as multi, co-op, or otherwise. For me it is one of those single player gems that is important to keep sight of. On the other side I played Resident Evil 5 single player by myself and thought it was good, but it was one the best games I ever played when I brought in a friend so I can see both sides of the coin. Thanks!

  • Stuart

    As an older gamer (I am 37) with a wife, house, young family and a never ending “honey do” list I play exclusively alone. It is my refuge from the world. Somewhat like watching a movie only I am actively participating in the events. I have all the games in the Call of Duty series and have not once been even tempted to play multiplayer. I love working my way through the campaigns at my own pace. In those two or three hours a week when I can play I do so to take a break from the real world. I have no desire whatsoever to spend that time having my behind handed to me by some fourteen year old who plays for thirty hours a week. I know nothing about the games industry or the demographics and statitistics that drive it, but this gamer will cease to play (and buy) at all if there is no more single player.

    • Pilot

      I am completely with you on that one. There is something to be said about playing a game on your own. Having no distractions and just playing a game your way whether that is right, wrong or indifferent is the only way games should be played. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for multiplayer games but I don’t believe they should be in every game. Let’s hope for your sake, as well as mine, that they still keep single player modes in games.

  • M83

    God I hope not. These paint ballers (so called gamers) have no clue. MW3 is great for the 7 or so hours I play the single player. But am I ever going to touch the multi player? No probably not, playing tag with bullets just plain boring to me, And I cant understand its appeal at all!!

    I need a story and a character to to tell it. With Luther characters and maybe quests (Skirim GOTY 2011.) Or a epic adventure of a lifetime with women and wine and treasure (Uncharted 2 GOTY 2010?) Or a story of friendship love and even life and death and of magic worlds (FF 7 Best of all time.) Or even a story of spy’s and mystery and wild heros (MGS series)

    The best games are still always single player. The pass your time because you have ADD (no offense) are these stupid tag with bullet set ups. If COD MW3 had a 12 hour single player it would be GOTY. The single is that fun. This is why the RESISTANCE series is one of my fav FPS, it has a game inside the box you buy also.

    This era of gamers that play these are vary different from actual gamers who play the Uncharteds and Skirims and others. Im not sure what they are? but their not the same. Like I said, I have a hard time actually calling them gamers.

    Thje new era of the shooter people too comes from (Im 40) kids about old enough to be my sons. So I look at my other friends with kids and how these kids were raised, and no to mean. But I can see why they actually get entertained by this online stuff. Its their social, and when these people get a real social and real sport even. They dont even like games most of the time. Thats why I say their not gamers, their people trying to figure out a social life. And after that and a GF its not much more shooting.

    If its not social its achievement of how good I am. This comes from sport. All of us from the 80s have trophies in real life weather it was Basketball, Sking Racing Motocross or bikes, Playing Chess or even bowling, we all did something! And thus a (I did this on a screen bragging rights) dont mean much to us. But a adventure to a strange land by ourselves with fictional characters and stories and great endings,, well,, they do mean alot to us! And it would be ashamed if the developers (who could be my sons age, so you can blame them too.) and a few gamers change that..

    • Pilot

      I couldn’t agree more, the best games are always games with strong single players. You also can’t let the COD games of the world decide what is good for the rest of the gaming nation. What is good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander so I hope that with the addition or more social gaming options, they don’t loose what makes games great, single player campaigns. Thanks for commenting.