LEVEL FIVE: NEEDLES
I was originally going to discuss those scantily clad dressed Twitch streamers who are less about the gameplay and more about the play with gamer’s hormones.
However, EA has decided that they wanted to end 2017 by being the most hated company in the world and in their attempt at self sabotage, well, they’ve said some interesting things I feel more inclined to discuss.
Single player games. Do they matter? Do they need to exist? Are social experiences and multiplayer games more important and what everyone should be making? There is no wrong answer, there really isn’t. Some gamers only like multiplayer games, whether they be competitive or cooperative, and some prefer an engaging story or vast open world adventure. That’s the beauty about gamers, games, and options. We choose how to spend our time, what world or adventure we want to experience or what team based objective we work together to achieve. Personally, for me, I prefer single player experiences. That has nothing to do with being picked last in team based activities in school. Well, no, I’m sticking to that response.
For my multiplayer seasoned veterans, we will discuss the importance of online social experiences and multiplayer in another level. The reason, as stated above, we are focusing on the core single player games is because of EA’s comments and their track record of cancelling those games, forcing multiplayer in single player games, and their closing of studios that made single player games.
In EA’s mind Triple A single player experiences are not profitable and, thus, not worth the time and money to create. Want to know what they actually found out? It’s real hard to find any justification for loot boxes when there is no multiplayer aspect to exploit. Pipe bomb.
A single player game is profitable, especially a Triple A one. Sony’s first party line up proves that. Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Bloodborne were all, and have all, been financially successful and well received single player experiences. Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild from Nintendo have helped their new console sell millions. I know those are first party examples and EA is a third-party company, so, lets look at successful third party single player games. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain sold 3.31 million copies as of October and the Tomb Raider reboot and sequel have sold a collective 18 million (11 for the 2013 release and 7 for the 2015 sequel).
Independently released games can find success too. Ninja Theory’s wonderfully crafted Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice garnered success quickly because of its strong level design, beautifully tragic narrative written, and its ability to encompass the player into losing themselves in the game. Single player games are profitable, they just have to be good.
EA could have found this kind of success as well, I mean they have the IP’s for it. They have the rights for Star Wars, for now, and they once had the Dead Space series. Dante’s Inferno had potential as well. Also, the wonderful yet now semi tarnished Mass Effect series. After convincing the brilliant Amy Hennig, one of the minds behind the Uncharted series, to join them to work on a core single player Star Wars game there was genuine excitement. Yet the project remains unknown as Amy’s status with the company. There were endless possibilities for an epic story, I mean the title would have sold on the name alone and Amy’s involvement almost guaranteed record setting sales for the company. But EA seems to do what EA does, systematically destroying themselves and customer’s faith in them. The Dead Space series could have continued to be great, the first two were and part three was polarizing, but they seemed to push towards cooperative play in an attempt it seemed to compete with Resident Evil. Funny thing though was that Resident Evil was receiving criticisms for the co-op despite how fun it was. A reboot, especially since its been so long since an entry of the series has been released, or even a fourth entry could have enticed players into returning and with the right vision and direction, they would print money. However, despite those on have hope, I don’t expect to see that series returning anytime soon. I mean the company no longer exists and the core staff works at Sledgehammer Games now.
Dante’s Inferno had a good story, great enemy design, and fun combat. Its only main point of contention from critics and fans alike was the familiarity of gameplay to the God Of War series. A sequel could have added depth to what was already good that was established in the first one and an opportunity to explore game play designs to carve a more unique identity for it. I don’t even think EA remembers that game because I haven’t seen any acknowledgement from them about its existence. Then there is the Mass Effect series, particularly Andromeda’s lack of success that I think has pushed them even further from focusing on single player games. Andromeda would have sold well if it hadn’t been released so poorly. It wasn’t ready, and it needed more time but for whatever reason, it was forced out. As to who the blame for this is for, well, that doesn’t matter in this article, but its poor reception has caused EA to pull away from single player games. The point of mentioning these games and franchises is to show that the only reason EA is not seeing success with single player games, is because of EA.
Unless… conspiracy theory.
EA has been planning this for years and has purposely have caused these events to justify their stance, justify their multiplayer only utopia, and to justify microtransactions and loot boxes. Like I said, conspiracy theory. But.. If it’s true..
In Nate Diaz’s words “I’m not surprised…”
The single player experience is important to me, it’s the reason I play video games. I don’t care much for multiplayer ones, with few exceptions like Call Of Duty: Zombies and Blizzard’s Overwatch, but I love that they are available for that audience. Here is what I think we need to acknowledge. There is a place for both single player and multiplayer games and both will find success if done correctly. That’s the key, they have to be crafted with dedication and the drive to make the game as appealing and fun for consumers as possible. Do not charge me $60 for a multiplayer game that’s riddled with loot boxes and rigged to get me desperate enough to pay more of my hard-earned money. On the other side, do not charge me $60 for a pretty game with no substance and then make me frustrated by its overabundance of bugs and glitches. I think its also important to admit that you don’t have to make single player experiences if you don’t want to, I mean many single player games do not bring multiplayer with them and, so, there’s justification in defending both instances.
The Witcher 3 is one of the greatest crafted games to come out and it has no multiplayer but is loaded with content and earns the player’s money. Overwatch has no single player story, it puts all its focus on what its good at and they have earned the player’s money with its free content and updates. It also contains loot boxes, which EA is obsessed with, but they are only cosmetic items. Its loot boxes done right, one of the few cases. Two completely different companies, visions, and games have shown that you don’t have to be the Jack of all trades if you’ve truly mastered one. EA’s claim that single player games aren’t profitable has hundreds of examples proving it wrong, EA has a bigger plot hole than R2D2 and C-3PO’s cameo in Rogue One.
I would have respected EA more if they would have just said that they, as a company, don’t want to focus on single player experiences, for whatever reason, and would primarily focus on multiplayer titles. I think everyone would have been more satisfied if they came out and said single player experiences were financially profitable for them and that they would focus on where they see the most success. This would have given them freedom of what they feel is the burden of narrative story telling and more opportunity to focus on those online worlds. Maybe then they wouldn’t have botched this loot box fiasco so badly. Unfortunately, they are too greedy and now its starting to hurt them.
Why do I love single player games? That’s a good question. I think, as a writer and always having stories forming in my mind, I’m attracted to escaping into other worlds and garnering inspiration from other creators. The journey through someone’s creation and feeling engaged, connected, to the plot and characters is a magical experience. This is further enriched when I’m in open world games and given the opportunity to change the outcomes and have my story be unique to me. Video games have an advantage over comics, films, and all other forms of entertainment media because of how you engage with it. Nothing compares. Who could forget that powerful scene, heart wrenching and tear inducing, in Final Fantasy VII when Sephiroth did what he did to Aeris? What about in The Witcher 3 when you have to choose between Yennefer or Triss and the ending perfect for you, as Gerald? These experiences, these journeys, are special and wonderful and multiplayer, as wonderful as they can be, cannot provide this level of engagement or this form of it. Gaming stories can be better than Hollywood films and, yet, Hollywood films cannot compete with Video Games because they do not actively involve the consumer.
Well, let’s hear your thoughts on Single player games. Are you pro single player? Anti-single player? Multiplayer only? What about EA’s stance, do you agree with them? Or… do you agree with my conspiracy theory? Is it a theory if it’s true?