It’s interesting in a year where games like Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, and Persona 5 have found success, we’re still trying to find ways to proclaim the death of the ‘single player’ game. Keep in mind other big single player games like South Park: Fractured But Whole, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Wolfenstein II, and Super Mario Odyssey either just came out or will be coming out in the next couple weeks and as a result we cannot say with certainty how they will sell (with the exception of Mario which is guaranteed bank for Nintendo).
And let’s also not forget 2017 games like Nioh, Yakuza 0, Shadow of War, Cuphead, Divinity Original Sin II, Pyre, Uncharted Lost Legacy that all may feature some form of multiplayer, but have strong single player experiences that can stand on their own.
So yes, we can look at EA struggling to make a single player Star Wars game, we can look at Prey underperforming, and we can proclaim single player games are in trouble. And maybe you are right. But we should also look at whether there are other issues at play. This is the second single player Star Wars game EA has struggled with in a row. Instead of blaming the market, maybe we should look at why exactly these games are hard to make for EA (I’m looking forward to reading Blood, Sweat, and Pixels for some insight on 1313). In Prey’s case, maybe we should consider Bethesda’s lackluster marketing for the game, and why they insist on withholding early review copies from games that end up reviewing pretty well, and could only benefit from some positive word of mouth.
And again, maybe you are right and single player games are “doomed”. It wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about this industry. But I can’t help but feel this argument has been running around in circles. I heard the same thing in 2007 after CoD4 exploded and so many insisted the gaming market wasn’t big enough to support AAA single player games anymore. Now it’s 2017, and while great single player games keep coming out, it seems the same ‘concern’ is still alive and well.