Over the last couple of years, we have seen the narrative that single player games are not viable begin to die out. We have had the large scale success of single player games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, God of War, Spider-Man, Resident Evil 2, and Red Dead Redemption 2 turn the whole notion on its head.
However, through all this, we have also seen Fortnite become the most popular game in the world, and EA cancel several Star Wars single player games. That’s because a pitch for a purely single player game, like the original Uncharted on the PlayStation 3 was, does not work in today’s climate anymore, according to Amy Hennig, the creator of the Uncharted franchise, who would eventually leeave Naughty Dog to work with EA on a similar single player Star Wars game- which got cancelled.
Speaking to GameRanx, Hennig noted that a pitch of that nature simply would not be accepted by publishers today. “I’ve said that I don’t think a game like the first Uncharted, even though it was the foundational footprint for that series, would be a viable pitch today,” she said. “The idea of a finite eight-ish-hour experience that has no second modes, no online — the only replayability was the fact that you could unlock cheats and stuff like that. No multiplayer, nothing. That doesn’t fly anymore. Now you have to have a lot of hours of gameplay. Eight would never cut it. Usually some sort of online mode. And of course you see where things are pushing, toward live services and battle royale and games as a service.
”All of those things — I don’t know the word I’m looking for, but they play less nicely with story. They’re less conducive to traditional storytelling. That has a shape and an arc and a destination, an end. A game that is a live service, that continues, does not.”
Hennig’s sentiment, which she has expressed previously, is of course, informed by her time at publishers like EA. Nonetheless, I can only hope that the continued success of so many single player games, as outlined above, will make publishers consider pushing out traditional style single player games in addition to their multiplayer live services going forward, rather than opting for just one over the other.