The slow death of $60 single player gaming


The whole discussion of single player gaming on consoles being dead reminds me of a discussion we had a decade ago, in the heyday of PC MMO gaming, about single player gaming on the PC slowly dying. Fast forward 10 years…it’s more alive than ever.

Consoles are seeing more multiplayer games than ever before, and not just the usual FPS games that ruled the genre for so long. It’s a fantastic time to be a console gamer, especially one with online access, friends and a good chunk of time to game each week. This means many of the top sellers are going to be multiplayer, which in turn means studios are going to crank out more multiplayer, because they perceive that as what’s hot. Meanwhile single player games will continue to be made, but take a backseat sales-wise for a bit, at least until another Uncharted, Witcher, Dark Souls, XCOM, Dragon Age, etc. come along.

Single player console gaming will be just fine.


Yep. Meanwhile, look at Destiny. If you’ve got multiplayer experiences, you can screw up a little and still be a pretty decent success.

I just finished the Destiny section of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier. I still can’t believe all that went wrong in that game’s development, and yet, they were still able to pull off a successful game.

Same recently with that open world Ghost Recon game. It’s just okay, but it’s got cooperative gameplay experiences that make for a good draw for people, so their single player doesn’t need to be as strong.


I think the point is maybe that the margin for possible error in execution is almost non-existent for single-player games, where it’s a lot bigger for multiplayer games. Your single-player game needs to be perfect and free of “consumer-unfriendly” scandals. In the case of Witcher 3, GTA V, and Breath of the Wild, that’s true. Bethesda’s been getting some shit lately, and I’m willing to bet their next Elder Scrolls or Fallout game that comes out with Creation Club pre-implemented isn’t going to do as well.

With a multiplayer game, though? It could run like shit, have loot boxes galore, and have terrible PR, but people are still going to buy it and play it if it gets popular.


Will they though? Lawbreakers anyone? Played any Battleborn today?


Let’s make sure we’re comparing apples to apples. Lawbreakers was not $60 at launch. It was $30.

Battleborn was $60 at launch, so that works.


I think another factor being missed is the quality of the experience.

Massively multiplayer games should be at their peak experience immediately after launch (as they’ll have the most players then, before the player base levels off - or disappears). Yes, there have historically been a lot of launch issues around connectivity, but generally are ironed out within a day or two.

Single player games are a bit of the reverse. They are generally better a while after launch, maybe after a patch or two, and are usually on sale at some point.


I don’t think anyone made the assertion that a MP game couldn’t fail.


Yeah, I’m not saying that anyone who poops out a functioning multiplayer game is going to be wildly successful. But when a multiplayer game DOES become successful and popular (due to whatever confluence of things happens to make it so), it’s a lot harder for things like loot box controversies or PR gaffes or performance issues to derail that train than if the same things happened to a single-player game.


For me, almost any multiplayer/service based game is an instant failure, and the only chance it has to earn my time is to either cost 0 or be made by Blizzard, with very few exceptions. Even that is unlikely. But if the market shifts away from me I guess I still have 2400+ games to play.


I’m guessing this is just one more step in the direction of more lootcrates or whatever other nickel and dime tactic is on the horizon.


Agents of Mayhem just wasn’t that good. It wasn’t terrible, but it was kind of average and EXTREMELY repetitive. What amazed me was how bad the open world was. It seemed to be less life like than MANY of the same studio’s previous games.

Knowing what i know now about it, i probably would not recommend anyone pay more than $30, maybe $40 for it. At that price, if you like that kind of game, you can be happy with it i think. Thus, i’d hardly call agents of mayhem a $60 single player gaming experience. As a big fan of basically all of their previous work, i was really disappointed.

We’re talking about a game even less worth $60 than mass effect andromeda (if this game can somehow prove to companies that tacked on multiplayer is a bad idea, it is almost worth killing the mass effect IP). YMMV


Yeah @tomchick kind of fucked us on that one.


Did you guys @Murbella @wumpus finish up the main story? I found it serviceable but not great.


This seems to just boil down to people can spin the numbers and stats many ways to get a certain image across.


For me the $60 game with 10 hours of play is nearly dead, but some really good ones keep me in it, though only just barely.

Anything else is pretty safe in the single player realm.


The 60 dollar AAA single player game has kinda been dead for awhile, I’m kind of surprised they still make them considering how much people don’t buy them (and how expensive they can be). How do you compete with games like PUBG Minecraft or Ark, and/or the countless money sinks on mobile? Big budget AAA SP games are in the same space as the album/cd in music or the novel/magazine/newspaper in publishing, only old people of a dying era buy them (unless its a big hit). And even than when its a big hit, they will try to suck you dry with DLC and micro. But who am I to complain? I play more ‘free’ to play games than ever before.


So … they’re dead, except they’re still made. And sold. And profitable.

Or are you trying to say that F2P games with ‘in-app’ purchases are so enticing to consumers that they don’t bother buying AAA SP games? As Mysterial mentioned above, just because a title doesn’t crack the top of the chart, doesn’t mean it isn’t profitable. I’d be careful about conflating these things.


I’m a single player player. Hehe. And just paid over 60$ for Assassins Creed. And would for another Witcher or Dragon Age or Mass Effect or Dishonored something else great. So I HOPE they’re not dying. Just… maybe become cheaper.


Agreed, but I think the point the original article was trying to make is not that single player is totally over on consoles, but that it takes a “near perfect” development/publishing effort to get a single player game to crack the sales charts. Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Witcher, etc. all qualify in that respect.

On the other hand, what examples of big misses in this category are out there? Are there loads of AAA single player titles being published that are failing horribly and thus provide the foundation for this argument? I mean, even No Man’s Sky, with all of it’s controversy, could still be considered a monetary success on consoles. Almost all the big failures I’ve seen on consoles recently have been multiplayer games. (I’m looking at you Battleborn…)


And before that, Evolve. IIRC, Battlefield Hardline, For Honor, and The Crew were also disappointments to their publishers. Seems like the same philosophy that had so many companies trying to make a big-score MMO 10 years ago. Just because Blizzard can do it doesn’t mean you can do it.