Why You Might See More Single-Player Games

More choices are good

Key Takeaways

  • The cancellation of Electronic Art’s Star Wars project in 2017 was a blow to fans of single-player games.
  • BioWare cutting Dragon Age 4’s online component may mean fans of solo games could have more options in the future.
  • What does the news mean for fans of online and live service games?
Screenshot from Dragon Age.

While some gamers might be sad that BioWare dropped the online mode from its upcoming Dragon Age entry, the cut ultimately could be a plus for players who prefer more story-driven experiences.  

Fans of cinematic, single-player games were delivered a blow back in 2017, when Electronic Arts suddenly stopped production on a new Star Wars entry that was said to be in the same vein as PlayStation’s Uncharted action-adventure games.

The massive success of fan-favorite Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2017—combined with the lackluster reception of online-focused shooter Anthem—could see the solo genre make a resurgence. While no one’s hammering a nail in the coffin of online games, these recent trends could have an impact on what type of games studios favor in the future.

"I think the future of live service games is still very bright, but I think we've seen that not every game can or should be a live service product," said David Jagneaux, gaming journalist, via Twitter DM.

"There is enough nuance in this industry for single-player, basic co-op, live service co-op, full multiplayer, full MMOs, and everything in between." 

Single-Player Strikes Back

Last week it was revealed EA and BioWare had decided to eliminate the online mode from their next Dragon Age game, making the popular role-playing game series’ upcoming entry a purely single-player affair, a move Jagneaux sees as a promising sign for single-player stalwarts.

"I think this hints towards a larger shift in favor of more single-player games," he explained. Washington Post games reporter Gene Park recently shared a similar sentiment when he tweeted he was paying tribute to Jedi: Fallen Order’s role in saving single-player games.

To Jagneaux’s earlier point, last year’s Marvel’s Avengers proved online elements are not necessarily a good fit for every game.

You needn’t look further than the majority of its reviews to see most critics enjoyed its single-player campaign, but felt the entire experience was brought down by its online elements.

Conversely, Anthem invested heavily in its multiplayer component at the cost of delivering a solid campaign experience. Plans to revamp the game recently were scrapped

Best of Both Worlds 

In a perfect world, fans of single-player games, as well as those who prefer online modes, would get their money’s worth from a product containing both elements. But, in Jagneaux’s opinion, we’re not quite there yet. 

"I think both can exist in the same game, it's just a matter of time and budgeting. Unfortunately, at times it seems like the companies that have the resources to do it well (like EA) get tunnel vision and don't prioritize their assets correctly." 

While Jagneaux notes Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises as "great examples" of games that already are nailing this delicate balance, they’re the exception to the rule. 

It’s too soon to say if Dragon Age 4 going full-on single-player ultimately will lead to fans of solo, story-driven games having more cinematic adventures to choose from in the future. Or if those who prefer to jump online with friends will have less options down the road. 

Regardless of what bigger picture comes into focus, at least Dragon Age fans can take solace in the fact they’ll be slaying monsters rather than dodging shallow online modes when it lands in 2022.

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