As we all know online multiplayer gaming for consoles just exploded this generation and the popularity of it became a force to be reckoned with.
We also saw some nefarious things result from this. Brief campaigns, reviews taking off points for a lack of multiplayer, games without it might not have sold as well, games that didn’t need it got multiplayer added anyway, and previously single player only experiences began to suffer a drop in quality as a result of the new focus.
We’re still a ways away from the PS4 and Xbox One but you can’t resist the temptation to try to read the tea leaves. As such, I wonder just what kind of difficulties single player gaming will be up against.
For one, the overall trend is in favor of “social” experiences. We’ll have cameras pointed at us, share buttons, probably a bunch of automatic online profile stuff happening, and we can count on the need for multiplayer in just about every game as if it weren’t complete without it. The question is: how much is this going to interfere with single player campaigns? With both systems working off Blu Ray discs at least we won’t have to worry about size restrictions hampering how long a multiplatform single player adventure lasts. On the other hand game development costs probably aren’t going to get as much of a break from developing for cheaper hardware than we would have hoped. It still costs a great deal to make a game, and that much more if there’s pressure to add multiplayer.
There is a real threat that this move toward the social always-connected world of gaming could continue to whittle away at single player campaigns, but there is also reason for hope. We’ve already heard of the Thief reboot unapologetically focusing on just having a great campaign and there will always be talented developers to follow suit. Neither new console appears to be adopting the always-on internet requirement. As mentioned before there will be plenty of room on the disc this time for both single and multiplayer. Games like Watch Dogs appear to be implementing multiplayer in a more seamless way, which at the very least would be less annoying than games that hound you to get online.
And with interest in multiplayer from such creative minds as David Cage of Quantic Dream maybe single player fans can even look forward to some kind of multiplayer they can be on board with like we had in Journey. And maybe some day with digital being so important my dream will come true of being able to buy the SP and MP separately. Probably not but I can dream.
What hasn’t changed this gen is that there still seems to be some games that don’t need multiplayer and suffer in some way, shape, or form when it gets added. Here’s hoping the advancements of the next generation give us some breathing room, because I can see it becoming suffocating if developers take this social stuff too far.