By Keith Pereña
Ten years ago, EA Games’ then label president made a statement on the state of single players games in the market which resulted in an uprising in the gaming community. According to a Wired report, Frank Gibeau said: “I think that model is finished. Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.” The EA executive also called them “fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out”, kinds of deals.
The community saw it as EA Games saying that single-player model was wrong. People, including me, were upset by the decision. Sure, I dipped my toes into multiplayer back in the day, but I maintain that nothing beats the experience of sitting down with a single-player game and indulging in the engaging stories it delivers.
Social media was quick to call out Gibeau and EA on their claim. OneReddit post even listed out some single-player games to portray how dead wrong they were. From the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy, Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2), Insomniac’s Spiderman — the list goes on. I could even add games such as The Last of Us, Metro games and, to some degree, Need for Speed.
I’m not ragging multiplayer games at all. I’ve played some of them such as Tom Clancy’s The Division. But those who want a beautifully written story to go with their gaming experience should go for single-player. Some multiplayer games have storylines, but they can’t hold a candle to their lone-player brethren.
Who can forget the first few minutes of The Last of Us, which follows the story of an old man making his way through a zombie-infested America while making peace with his demons? To this day, the universe-building of the Bioshock series is unparalleled. From the dystopian, underwater city modelled after Ayn Rand’s work to a flying and xenophobic rogue US state, the game has it all.
Bioshock also introduced us to some of the most loved characters in gaming. Elizabeth is a young and bubbly woman who follows the player and has the power to travel through time. The new Tomb Raider games introduced the world to a Lara Croft who is unsure of herself and we, as players, grow with her as she gradually becomes the uber-confident heroine she’s meant to be. The Metro games took us from our seats to the tunnels of the Moscow Metro after a nuclear cataclysm and RDR2 is a single-player tour de force. RDR2 is set in America and filled with secrets to explore, hunting, train robberies, and of course, the story of a band of brothers running away from the maturing law enforcement system which threatens their bandit ways.
Ten years after Gibeau’s statement, the video game landscape has not changed. Multiplayer is still there and growing and single-player is not ‘dead’. In fact, EA made a U-turn on their statement and released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order last year — an action adventure game set within Lucas’ universe. The number of players? One. The game was well-received for its world building and storytelling. I look forward to playing it — if and when it goes on sale.
All told, today’s gaming world has something for everyone. Want to duke it out with your friends and explore massive worlds together? There’s a place for that. Want to get your heartstrings tugged by a game layered with a story that hits close to home? There’s a selection waiting for you. Both genres are not exclusive and they learn things from each other. There’s cooperative story-driven games and multiplayer games which don’t scrimp on their story and world building. They’re few and far in between but they showcase the yin-yang relationship of both platforms. It’s this delicate and beautiful balance that makes the gaming world a better place. As with the case of single-player, it won’t die; we can all just reload our last checkpoint.
The last two games Keith bought were single-player. On sale, of course