Single-Player Vs. Multiplayer: Single-Player Games Aren’t Dying

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, , President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, was quoted saying that the upcoming had a strong chance of helping the () reach 100 million units sold.

He went on further to state that ’s strategy to broaden their consumer appeal in future is to place a strong focus on creating “social type games” for the European market, whereas in the U.S. market, titles such as Spider-Man, would be more important.

I think that the first thing that most people may take away from these statements is that there seems to be a very strong vote of confidence in Spider-Man, particularly, when one takes in consideration that the PS4 only recently surpassed the 60 million units sold mark.

However, how great Spider-Man will be when it is eventually released isn’t really the topic I wanted to focus in this article (although I am hoping that the game is amazing.)

Rather I wanted to look at the dichotomy that was suggested with these statements. Possibly in the simplest terms, there is a vs narrative within the community, where most tend to place more focus on one of these two areas.

, ’s Head of was recently quoted in an interview earlier this year stating that the future of single-player games was somewhat doubtful as more and more gamers seemed to sink in more hours into multiplayer-service style games, such as , , and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, amongst others, in turn, leaving very little time to play other games.


Overwatch. (Credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Now, both of these statements have had me pondering two major questions. Firstly, are single-player games really dying? Then, secondly, is it accurate to divide the gaming community into single-player focused gamers and multiplayer focused gamers?

Are Single-Player Titles Really Dying?

I have previously suggested that in modern gaming, arguably, the most popular aspect amongst the public is that of multiplayer experiences.

It is hard to argue against this point when one looks at the fact that the top five titles that were generating most players per hour on in 2016 were all titles with strong multiplayer components; the top five downloaded games on the Store in 2016 all had strong multiplayer aspects to them; and that recently released a study that indicated a list of the most popular games on which was mostly made up of titles with a strong multiplayer component.

Dota 2.jpg

Dota 2. (Credit: Valve)

Earlier this year, it was also suggested that the reason has never received a single-player story was due to the overarching popularity of and that all of Rockstar’s focus had been diverted there.

It is important to note, however, that the intense popularity of multiplayer titles does not really equate to the death of single-player titles.

It is important to note that in the list of best-selling this year, three of the titles are single-player only games (, : and ) and one, despite having a multiplayer mode, is a strongly single-player focused game (.)


Horizon Zero Dawn. (Credit: Guerilla Games)

The fact that such titles are still able to make it on the bestseller list is a testament to the fact that the style is still rather popular with most gamers.

I think for Spencer to say that single-player gaming is dying is largely incorrect if the evidence provided is to be believed. I think it’s, perhaps, more accurate to suggest that single-player titles on a whole generate less income than multiplayer titles (as most of them are littered with .)

A lot of gamers have perceived Spencer’s statements as an attempt to cover up the fact that the Xbox One doesn’t really have a standout single-player title at the moment, whereas both the PS4 and do.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (Credit: Nintendo)

Whether or not this is the case will always be unclear, but I will say that Microsoft has been advertising for a position for a new title that inspired by Horizon Zero Dawn. It is unknown whether this prospective title will be wholly single-player game at this moment.

Is it possible to divide the gaming community into single-player focused gamers and multiplayer focused gamers?

To be honest, I think multiplayer and single-player experiences work in tandem with one another. Phil Spencer is perhaps right in suggesting that gamers are spending hours upon hours in certain multiplayer titles, but I do believe that only describes half of the situation.

I have often found in my own experience that while I’ll play a title such as or Call of Duty throughout the year, I’ll also be playing several other titles to break up the gameplay experience.


Ratchet and Clank. (Credit: Insomniac Games)

In this year alone, to name a few titles, I’ve completed Horizon Zero Dawn, Ratchet and Clank, Knack, The Order: 1886, Far Cry: Primal, Tales From The Borderlands and Lego Batman 3; all of which are single-player titles.

From talking to the people around me, I do really think that this is an accurate representation of most gamers’ playing habits; however, I could be wrong.

I don’t know the aims of Sony’s marketing strategy and do not have the data to understand playing habits in certain regions; I just think that it is rather interesting that they have seemingly decided to divide different geographical regions according to the single-player/multiplayer dichotomy.

I think it’s quite clear that currently both single-player and multiplayer titles have a place within the gaming industry as most gamers pine for both types of experiences at different times. This may change in future, but that is something that still remains to be seen.

I do want to know though; are you more of a single-player or multiplayer gamer? Perhaps, you enjoy both game modes? Please share in the comments down below.

(Sources: The Telegraph; MSPowerUser; CNBC; GameSpot]