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"Single-player games might be safer bets than live games in 2019" - Polygon article

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There's clearly been a GaaS trend in recent years. You have Destiny, The Division, Anthem, Warframe etc all looking for one type of long-term multiplayer customer. Fortnite, Apex Legends, PUBG looking for a different niche. Battlefield, CoD, Overwatch, Rainbow Six on a different Venn circle. Tetris 99. And so on.

 

I'm not disputing that money and development time has been thrown at these long-term online investment games. What I'm querying is if there's any evidence that this is, at a statistical level, proving any threat to "traditional" single-player games (and not just as an excuse for that one Star Wars title that looked like a hot mess anyway.)

 

When I log on to the PlayStation Store, I see loads of "traditional" singleplayer games on there. From AAA stuff all the way down to small indie stuff. I think the economics about what merits a boxed retail release seem to have changed, (and discoverability and finding reviews of the smaller stuff seems an issue) but I'm not sure I see evidence that the singleplayer game is under threat.

 

Just because some CFOs at one or two big publishers said something on a conference call and people made silly YouTubes to scare us into watching ads, doesn't make it true.

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The single player game is absolutely under threat when it comes to investment from major publishers, given the comments from many of them over recent years about moving to GAAS... or at least it was. Given the relative failure of various high profile GAAS projects over the past year or so, we may be over the peak level of threat here,  as I wouldn't be at all surprised if things pivot back a bit towards single player, particularly as the likes of God of War and Spider-Man have been so successful. GAAS definitely had a hand in the cancellation of Visceral's Star Wars game and EA's strategy in general, the overall direction of Anthem, etc etc.

 

I guess that GAAS was seen as another brilliant idea to generate constant revenue rather than only having a one-off sale, just as DLC, the season pass, £10 to unlock online multiplayer, loot boxes and other ideas over the years have come, gone and risen again. However, right now it definitely seems that the market can only bear a limited number of games that demand your full attention for weeks and months on end. So GAAS may in future be limited to just a few select games rather than the situation we were in a year or so ago, when it really did seem that they would be the norm going forwards.  

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I can’t stand how much of the general direction of the industry is influenced by the random whims of trust fund billionaires who think they’re geniuses. I’d love to know which of those useless twats decided we all wanted an app on our tablet to look at while we were playing a few years ago.

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The balancing act with these games is always going to be finding an experience that works as an entire hobby in and of itself for a few people, which is where the money is, but which also has appeal as a dip-in or one-and-done experience, to attract the large crowd that makes people care that your game exists. I think there's a reason that a lot of the success stories are in essentially online sports, which is a model which suits that extremely well, plus one or two monsters that act as ersatz social spaces due to their sheer scale and ubiquity.

 

I think that most publishers are hopelessly unprepared for the job of launching a new sport or a competitor to Twitter and probably understand that now.

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SkillUp posted a similar analysis, stating that the live service game has followed the same path as MMORPGs did a while back (high-risk, high-reward; overcrowded market; too much vying for limited player time; winner takes all problem) and noting how few new service games were announced at E3 (just Avengers?)

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Pob said:

noting how few new service games were announced at E3 (just Avengers?)

 

I feel like I'm just going to end up needlessly berating people by accident here, but I don't even know if this is remarkable. They're GaaS - you'd not expect new releases all the time as the point of the genre, by definition, is to keep people playing an old one. Destiny content is still coming this year (and was presumably announced at E3), Warframe is still being actively worked on, I don't know about The Division (but I assume it's active), even Anthem is supposedly still being worked on, Fortnite, Apex etc are all doing seasons.

 

SkillUp is hardly an intelligent commentator anyway, and sort of backs up my impression that this whole "singleplayer is under threat" narrative is being shilled for clicks.

 

I really don't see the evidence, other than people saying it, that singleplayer games were under threat.

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1 hour ago, Uncle Mike said:

 

I feel like I'm just going to end up needlessly berating people by accident here, but I don't even know if this is remarkable. They're GaaS - you'd not expect new releases all the time as the point of the genre, by definition, is to keep people playing an old one. Destiny content is still coming this year (and was presumably announced at E3), Warframe is still being actively worked on, I don't know about The Division (but I assume it's active), even Anthem is supposedly still being worked on, Fortnite, Apex etc are all doing seasons.

 

SkillUp is hardly an intelligent commentator anyway, and sort of backs up my impression that this whole "singleplayer is under threat" narrative is being shilled for clicks.

 

I really don't see the evidence, other than people saying it, that singleplayer games were under threat.

 

Except neither the Polygon article or Skillup is saying that singleplayer games are under threat. Quite the opposite - they're pointing out that the GAAS goldrush looks to be over and we're on the cusp of seeing publishers return to more finite, SP-focused games instead of clamouring to produce a Destiny or Fortnite-beater.

 

I think it's fair to fear for the future of finite, single player games when the likes of Bungie, Bioware, Core, Respawn (alpha team), Rare, Ninja Theory, Rockstar and Rocksteady (? not sure if the rumoured Justice League is GAAS-focused) are dedicating all or most of their time to creating or supporting service games. But hopefully we're seeing the scales tip back more to a balance between the two.

 

Personally, GAAS have been some of my favourite of this generation - I'm thinking Destiny, Rocket League, The Division, Sea of Thieves and Hitman - but like a lot of others I don't have time to get into more than one or two at a time.

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5 minutes ago, Pob said:

Except neither the Polygon article or Skillup is saying that singleplayer games are under threat.

 

Quote

some commentators argued that AAA single-player titles were no longer an economically viable business in the current marketplace, and that the future of gaming was in live services, which can provide constant revenue from players over an extended period of time.

I argued at the time that there was still a market for single-player games, but that they need to be really good to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. There is no room for mediocrity in story-based games anymore. If you want to sell games, you better make something excellent.

 

This was from the article you put in the OP. And if you click through to some of the articles he's quoting, it goes on from there.

 

23 hours ago, Eighthours said:

The single player game is absolutely under threat when it comes to investment from major publishers

 

I guarantee if I spent 5 minutes trawling SkippUp's archive or The Jimquisition or any number of other clickbait providers, I'll find tons of people pretending that singleplayer is under threat.

 

 

There was a clear narrative being pushed for a while that singleplayer was under threat, and no longer economically viable. Which then prompted quite a pushback from lots of gamers that GaaS were evil, and you see that all over here.

 

But, it turns out (unsurprisingly) that it wasn't true.

 

And now, we have the realisation that it isn't true.

 

Quote

The key lesson of 2018 was that the challenges faced by AAA single-player games in the current market also impact live-service games.

 

I'm just saying I don't think it was ever true, is all. And it's inherent in even the title of this thread that the perception was that we'd be overrun by GaaS and that this has somehow changed. I don't think it has.

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I’ve got one GaaS on the go and that is Tetris99. Aside from that I am pretty much only playing single player games. 

 

I found myself unable to get good enough or keep up enough with any of them to enjoy them. Or felt I was hitting my own skill ceiling and ruining the experience for others, depending on if it was competitive or cooperative.

 

So picking just one GaaS has worked for me and I can just avoid the rest.

 

I can happily play my single player games,

safe in the knowledge that my lack of skill these days isn’t affecting anyone’s enjoyment. 

 

Even something like Mario Maker 2, I can just play endless levels at my own pace. I certainly found a harmony with games I play now. 

 

The only other recent GaaS enjoyed was Fortnite and particularly the Save the World portion but again found I wasn’t able to dedicate enough time to get the most from it 

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On 28/06/2019 at 16:11, Uncle Mike said:

There was a clear narrative being pushed for a while that singleplayer was under threat, and no longer economically viable. Which then prompted quite a pushback from lots of gamers that GaaS were evil, and you see that all over here.

 

But, it turns out (unsurprisingly) that it wasn't true.

 

And now, we have the realisation that it isn't true.

 

This entire discussion has always revolved around what the companies who produce the games that are the most bought and played are doing, otherwise people would be convincing everyone that no genre is commercially moribund as they'd point to at least a few indie games with minimal development budgets being released as incontrovertible proof that said genre was alive and more than well, like the Flight Simulation genre for instance, which used to have releases from most of the majors, including EA and Activision.

 

The American film industry is in aggregate pumping out more films than ever, yet the members of the MPAA who control the majority of both revenue and audience are making fewer films than in the past and a disproportionate amount of their efforts go to a very narrow range of material these days, especially the market leader.

 

Pretty much all the major independent game publishers who control the majority of traditional game revenue are looking towards a recurrent revenue future, with only the odd major effort title being released which doesn't fit that mould.

 

 

 

 

On 26/06/2019 at 20:13, Vorgot said:

But thank goodness there are tons of developers out there who are still crafting brilliant single player games, and I don't think that'll ever stop. The best, and most 'breathtaking' moment of E3 was all around a resolutely single player game (as far as I am aware there is no MP mode).

 

From very close to the first teaser of the project, they've stated multiple times they were looking into doing a multiplayer component to the game which goes to as recent as last year. It's only this year that they've stated it isn't happening at launch, but that never seemed to be the plan anyway as they don't have the manpower to do both game modes at get it out of the door in time.

 

 

2013:

 

Quote

"It will be a story-based RPG experience with amazing single-player playthroughs, but we're going to add multiplayer features," CDPR managing director Adam Badowski told me.

 

2018:
 

Quote

 

Patrick Mills: We have multiplayer in R&D, but the game we're shipping to you, the game you're going to buy is the single-player experience. That's really what we're concentrating on now, the single-player RPG experience. That's what we want to nail down before we start looking at any of these other things.

 

 

 

 

2019:

 

Quote

Sasko: Yes, 100 per cent. We're not really working on multiplayer, our sole focus is single-player. We'll do that, then we'll see. We're not saying no but we're not saying yes. If something does happen it will definitely be post-launch and that's as much as I can say right now.

 

 

And CDPR already have a service game operational anyway, so they aren't reliant on Cyberpunk 2077 alone for revenue. Plus their claimed other unknown big budget game that is meant to launch by 2021 too.

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Excellent points from @mushashi as usual, but it remains weird how loyal his neg-stalker is. Always one neg! The only thing I can think of is that someone is really annoyed that he spelled 'Musashi' wrong ;)

 

 

Oh and Mushashi is right btw, CDPR started talking about adding mp ages ago, but afaik it won't impact the sp at all since that looks to be at least as detailed and extensive as Witcher 3 if not more.

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Didn’t realise the MP for Cyberpunk. As long as it’s no impacting the single player then all for it. Not for me, which is probably why I missed the mentions of it.

 

And @mushashi is dead right on it with this conversation being about the big players, not the indies. I rely on the likes of Atlus and Bandai Namco for my single player stuff, not sure when I last bought an EA/Ubi/Bethesda game. Crash racing from Activision but that sits outside the discussion anyway as it’s a bit of a different beast.

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Absolutely that. It’s not like I’m struggling to find single player games, it’s that there are many great franchises and stories that the major publishers have abandoned, or tried to adapt to this week’s trend. Once their new version of that IP fails, they just lock it away forever. I want some of that stuff back.

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