Today’s WTF: Single Player Is a Gimmick


Hello, Sushians. I’ve come to give you very bad news: single player video games are nothing more than a gimmick. I know, this may come as a shock to you. What, with games like Dishonored, XCOM, Deus Ex, Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City gracing our screens over the last couple of years. I mean, it’s easy to be fooled by these great titles with fantastic mechanics or engrossing stories. But you really should know that playing by yourself is a gimmick.

At least, according to Gogogic CEO Jonas Antonson. Antonson has a few thoughts about single player titles in a recent interview that might not be too popular around these parts:

“I also think that it is worth to note that the single player mechanic is a gimmick – games are meant to be played with others and it doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or online. The first games were designed as multiplayer experiences, but when computer and console games became a thing there was a need to construct an antagonist and/or a protagonist for commercial purposes.”

Antonson goes on to talk about how toddlers make up someone to talk to when they play games, and even points at the “high score list” in arcades as a way to make games social. I understand what he’s saying — on one level, playing a game in a social setting transforms the entire experience. It’s nice to compare experiences with other people in a meaningful way, as we’re seeing with a game like XCOM. But on the other hand, I think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that all single player titles are inherently gimmicky by not including a social component.

So what do you guys think? Is this WTF worthy? Is Antonson off his rocker in his assessment of single player as a gimmick? Does every game need some kind of social component in order to truly matter? Go!

Source – Games Industry

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

12 thoughts on “Today’s WTF: Single Player Is a Gimmick”

  1. Okaaaay… To Antonson, I issue this: “Open mouth, insert foot.” That is not an apples to apples comparison. Games HAD a multiplayer component. SOME. Not all. To assume that single player is a gimmick is preposterous. I think he’s been hitting up too many bro shoots, haha. Just sayin’. Solid single player games will ALWAYS be worth playing. What with introverts and all.

  2. So I guess that Super Mario Brothers, DOOM, all the console Zelda games, Prince of Persia, Alan Wake, L.A Noir ,the first 3 Metal Gear Solid games,Dead Space, Sim City, RED DEAD REDEMPTION, the Assassins Creed games were all gimmicks. Well then someone pulled the wool over my eyes, granted I enjoy an co-op/multiplayer experience as much as the next guy but there are times were other people will be detrimental to the game experience and times when they will enhance the experience Rock Band, Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty Spec ops, Call of Duty Zombies, Army of Two, Rainbow Six Vegas, Ghost Recon, Fable 2 and 3, Saints Row.
    This guy needs to understand that all single player games are inherently social, how many times have you told friends about a single player game you liked/hated, how many times have you compared/contrasted how you set up and kitted your character. Hell sorry to beat a dead horse buy look at the Mass Effect 3 ending that was an ending for a single player game that people talked about and discussed form months after it was over

  3. I’m certain this is more than WTF worthy.
    When I was younger, and new to school, being a single child with both working parents and hardly many friends, single player games were great at keeping me preoccupied. And these days when I’m tired of playing with others, it’s nice to sit down and pull out some Skyrim, Deus Ex, Pokemon, whichever.

  4. Games are meant to be whatever you design them to be. This guy’s company makes social and MMO games.

    What a surprise to hear him say this.

  5. I get what he’s saying, but I disagree with him. Sometimes I just want to be all alone and enjoy Dishonored, Skyrim or Bastion. To say that the core concept of these games are merely gimmicks is complete bollocks.Other times I want to lose a game of League of Legends. ‘Cuz that’s all I ever seem to do in that game.
    To me, games are whatever you make them. Think about it; Fallout 3 or Skyrim can be deemed social in the sense that we compare our stories and quest items with each other (their equivalent of High Scores, if you will). Inversely, I can put on Call of Duty and treat it like I’m playing against bots with no interaction with them whatsoever. Very intelligent bots… Sometimes.

  6. I think it’s a blessing that we have the technology to give ourselves entertainment without always needing a multiplayer experience. You could never play Chess by yourself, or Tag, or Poker, but now you can with the help of AI.

    But a “gimmick”? Even without a story, there have always been things you can play alone like Pinball, pool or bowling, where you can play against your own skills and scores.

    Give me story, atmosphere, distraction, single or multiplayer doesn’t matter if it’s fun.

  7. @Julez Nicely put! I feel like for the most part the single player experience gets taken for granted. Terrible example here, but any given Call of Duty I played, I felt as thought I was the only one who actually played the campaign first. Did so with CoD4 onward. I actually played Portal 2 before I did the co-op story, not that there’s much of a difference between the two. I feel like the art of the single player game is a rarity these days hidden behind the crowd of multiplayer experiences. Not that those are bad either. There are some really great ones like Team Fortress 2 or CS:GO.

  8. @Anthony,

    Great article! I’m actually very surprised that so many play Starcraft 2 for single player only. Rather mind blowing considering how many are on multiplayer.

  9. What’s with the options too. Brand new games have digressed. When I play single player and my character gets a radio transmission over his headset, why is it blasting over my 5.1 and not on my Bluetooth.
    Motion sencer function is limited and enhances only a few games making me wonder what a move will really do (why buy one).
    Rock and 2 has a cymble expansion that doesn’t really add to the game only the option to hit a different trigger.
    What’s with racing games and the steering wheel… I can get a way faster time with a controller.
    The demo and hard drive saved games can’t be foldered so I put a 750 gb HD in my ps3 slim when it first came out and I can’t find games I bought because there are so many.
    The pay for plus online feature can’t be suspended or refunded if you buy by the month and need skip out for like 120 days. Sony gave me a free 7 day trial which I never used.
    The only up side is that you can go online but when you do the first thing you see is that the rating changes, yeah real winners play for free, and my N band router works about. .2 megs a second faster than the internal g. When I hook it up to my laptop I get about 400 megs a sec. Yeah try to download a 14gig game for just an hour trial that will expire in 3 weeks. Worth it?

    So you ask have games gotten more gimmicky lately… playing on old sterotypes and throwing interist at any movie that can sell a license and advertising. I say just check the rating before you buy. Or better yet rent, sell back or just gamefly.

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