It’s been really interesting to me to see the number of folks who don’t get what I am saying about the way market trends are leading irreversibly away from the traditional single-player game. Many are focusing on the examples I used of current connectivity thinking that “chatting on a messageboard” is all I mean. But it’s not all I mean, not at all… that’s just the current manifestation of things.
One of the key things that everyone seems to react to is the notion that the experiences they can get fom single-player games cannot be had in MMORPGs. But this is a false notion. You can literally embed an entire single-player game — say, Half-Life 2 — in an MMORPG. That’s what instances ARE. Thus far instances have been used to mostly make multiplayter games that are highly similar to the main game, but that’s barely scratching the surface of what can be done.
How is live-ifying things now any different from RTSing things 8 years ago and Doom-ifying things before that? Isn’t it just the latest big thing that the game industry is dogging?
– Mark Asher
- Those others were individual games and clones thereof. Live (which didn’t start with Live) is a business practice.
- The core gamer market is pretty well CAPPED and publishers are seeking alternate markets and finding them in casual games, connected games, and so on
- The cost of the elaborate single-player extravaganzas we all love has reached absurdity, and the complexity is making them nigh-undevelopable. Publishers are looking for alternate models.
- The traditional retail distribution model is under serious, serious attack. Between SOE’s digital distribution, GameTap, GameFly, Direct2Drive, FilePlanet, Steam, Live, EA’s thing whose name I am blanking on, and so on, there’s an irreversible trend going on.
- A far larger gamer population than the entire US and Europe population ALREADY lives and plays this way. Numbers talk, niches walk. We’re the niche.
- The entire next gen of hardware is designed around these assumptions. Even Nintendo, who held out last gen, has made seamless wifi a centerpiece of its latest handheld, and is embracing digital distribution in the next gen.
- Dude, Live is getting built into WINDOWS. 😛
This is a sea change, not a fad. Here’s a trend of development:
Right now, you launch a single-player game.
Very shortly, you will launch an aggregation service and play a single-player game from within it.
Sometime after that, you will launch a multiplayer game and play a single-player or multiplayer game from within it. cf Korean games, which do this now.
And beyond that, you will launch an MMO-like space with a mix of classic interfaces and virtual spaces, and to play a single-player game you will walk into it.
This latter one is not so outrageous — it’s what you do in WoW to enter a battleground, which is, really, a different game than what you play the rest of the time.
And my contention is that
- game publishers will make it this way because of piracy
- and because of new revenue models
- and because they want to datamine you and market to you better
- and because they want to reach a larger audience than the current gamer audience
- and because you the audience want much of it: the profiles, the score tables, etc
So while I was indeed being provocative and outrageous in making the statement that single-player games are doomed, frankly, I still stand by it. In a decade or so, that’s just how all games will work. You won’t buy a game — you’ll buy access to a multiplayer game service with single-player games in it as instances.