The single player game in 2021

Using the year-end 2017 industry analysis features as a barometer, you could reasonably expect solo titles to be dead and buried by now. It was the year PUBG seemed to materialize out of thin air and on top of a Steam player table this CS: GO and Dota 2 had been sitting at the top for years. During those same 12 months, Epic’s new game Fortnite went from a PvE flop to a hastily assembled battle royale with 10 million players in its first two weeks. Battles Royales were in vogue and attracted huge player bases.

Also in 2017, Arkane released Prey. It was the latest in a series of nostalgic reboots of solo franchises, spiritual sequels and crowdfunding-funded rebirths that dated back to a golden period in the late 90s to early 2000s, and as Torment: Tides of Numenera, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Thief (2014) before her, its commercial performance was modest. There would be no follow-up.

In November, EA closed Visceral Games. On the Star wars title currently in development there, CFO Blake Jorgensen told investors “As we looked at the game it continued to feel like a much more linear game. [which] people don’t like it as much today as they did five or ten years ago.

That was it, then. Linear solo experiments were done for, and the destiny model had won. There would no longer be isometric RPGs telling us wonderful stories through oars and oars of written text or typing 0451 into keyboards. Too bad, take a break from the menus that actually pause the game. Hello epic battle passes and emotes.

It only took 2018 for us all to realize this wouldn’t be the case. Breath of the wild and Super Mario Odyssey had been huge unit changes for the Switch the year before, and Spider Man and God of the war were commercial smashes for consoles. PUBG and Fortnite were still the big hits of the day, and the 2018 bestseller Red Dead Redemption 2 featured an inline component to complement its single player story. But the market has shown that it still enjoys playing alone.

Yet this pivotal year that spawned two industry-changing Battles Royales has had lasting effects. Above all, he has seen the triple-A studios change course. The industry today is okay with reaching such massive budgets, it’s about focusing more, getting rid of deadwood, and doing one thing better than anyone else. This thought saw Call of Duty Black Ops 4 release without a single-player campaign, and Battlefield V use single-player mode only as a series of short staging exercises covering the controls. The Last of Us Part II released without its planned Factions multiplayer, and whatever you may have thought Cyberpunk 2077 when it was released, at least last year’s 5th best-selling buy-to-play did not include an online “capture the news” mode.

As contradictory as it sounds in celebrating two massive shooters franchises ditching solo play, the move relieves single-player developers from attempting a maximalist sequel of modes that will keep their players engaged for years to come. Nobody bought either The last of us for multiplayer. Nobody buys Battlefield for the solo. Do one thing, better than everyone else.

Where are we in 2021 then, those of us who like to read oars and oars of text in isometric RPGs, and enter 0451 into keyboards and search for alternate paths through vents? Well we spend a lot of time playing Death loop, which you might even think of as a Prey 2017 continuation because it has as much to do with this game as Prey 2017 had with the previous ones Prey securities. There is an online invasion-based feature, but you wouldn’t call it a multiplayer game any more. Dark souls has been. There is even a 0451 door code.

We could spend some time enjoying Disco Elysium: the final cut‘s at the top spot in Metacritic for 2021. Okay, it’s technically a 2019 game, but its new edition still sits higher than Forza Horizon 5 and that’s amazing for a GPRC where most of the graphics are in your head. See also: Underworld, one of last year’s biggest indie hits, now on PS5 and still absolutely solo.

Remasters and Definitive Editions are also becoming a big part of the industry, and given their nostalgic focus predates the online age, they tend to serve us in new portions of the familiar solo. Mafia: definitive edition, Quake remastered And 1 + 2 by Tony Hawk all give us great excuses to spend 10 hours in our company. As for Mass Effect Legendary Edition, do that 100 hours.

None of this proves that the industry has erred in recognizing online gaming as an area of ​​growth. Instead, it shows the big guys are now recognizing what indies have known for years: Gambling is a long-tailed economy. Every few years a Fortnite might capture the imagination of a huge band at the high end of that curve, but if studios can cut production costs in order to reach a group of consumers farther away with laser focus – in no universe can I was going to buy a Mafia remastering, for example – even niche projects, nostalgic, downright esoteric projects can work.

Written by Phil Iwaniuk on behalf of GLHF.

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