“Companies that feel like they’ll just avoid the hard work of building a story and characters and go right to where the money is in multiplayer, I don’t think that’s going to work.”
The narrative that single player games are dead, or close to dying, driven out by the success of multiplayer and games as a service style games, has been pretty pervasive for a while now. For some reason, it is a myth that has continued to persist, in spite of the success of games like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, The Witcher, Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and of course, GTA5.
That kind of selective consideration of the market is not something that Take 2, the parent company of Rockstar, the folks who bring us GTA and Red Dead, wants to engage in. Speaking to GamesBeat, Take-Two Interactive CEO Straus Zelnick said that single player games are nowhere close to being “dead”.
“Historically, in entertainment, people take positions like that, but there are also people saying that it won’t work if it’s not a free-to-play battle royale,” he said “People really are saying that, and not even tongue-in-cheek. I don’t buy that. Single-player, in my opinion, is not dead, not even close. Companies that feel like they’ll just avoid the hard work of building a story and characters and go right to where the money is in multiplayer, I don’t think that’s going to work. I’d be surprised.”
I think Zelnick does have a leg to stand on here- while GTA Online is a multiplayer sensation, which has contributed to its long term success, its multiplayer is rooted in the context built up by the single player campaign, which is extraordinarily high quality to begin with. And the enduring success of games from his companies, and companies such as Nintendo, Sony, Bethesda, and CD Projekt RED, should only serve to reinforce his point further.