Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Single Player, Where art Thou?

      The pathological liars we must be, to tell ourselves and each other what's new is different. However, there's another voice in this discussion, floating around our heads. It's the voice of creativity and atmosphere as its dying. What's that sound like, you say? Well it sounds like it's saying,

      All these disposable campaigns, laconic in nature, will be the death of the stories you hold dear.

      The truth is, due to the failure of the industry in recent years and the success of Call of Duty. The term profitable in gaming has formed a new definition, one that is designed to spend as little time and effort on your single-player experience and focus solely on the multi-player. Which people are willing to play for months and convince their friends to buy, so they can play together. Don't forget to buy the nine downloadable content packs, six of them being new outfit skins or emblem icons. This is who we've allowed ourselves to be defined as. Nowadays when someone thinks of gaming and those of us who subscribe to the most sincere of religions, they picture you playing Call Of Duty 13. Why 13 you ask? Probably because they themselves have lost track of which one we're on.
The good news is, great original games still exist. The bad news, they are fewer and farther between than ever before. I like to use 2007 as an example. In 2007, outside of sports games, some of the most successful games were Bioshock, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As we flash forward to 2012 the highest sold games are, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, Diablo 3, Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2, Resident Evil 6 and Uncharted 3. Notice a trend? Not only are all of those games sequels, they all contain a multi-player component.  
Look at Alien: Colonial Marines, while nothing could have saved that game. Gearbox, a quality and respected developer was brought in solely to design the multi-player, while the campaign was pawned off on some no name, Time Gate Studios. Hopefully, its failures chart the way for change.    
Most campaigns are slowly dipping into a world where the controller is no longer in our hands. It's in our laps, as we sit patiently, watching our hero do bad ass things rather than doing them ourselves, trickling into our sub consciousness, transforming our minds to expect this new normal. The gaming industry has always a world of show and tell. Lately though, it's been leaning quite heavily on the tell side.

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