Many recent and coming First and Third Person Shooters which are originally perceived as games around a story cut out for single (or cooperative) playing are also “loaded” with multiplayer options. Are there not enough multiplayer games out there? Is it really needed to “hack” in some deathmatch, tag team or capture the flag copies, just for the sake of it?
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a coming game that looks very promising. According to the released information the game will have a really strong story that will, hopefully, immerse the player in the Hollywood-esque game world. The well known trailer from E3 earlier this year showed Nathan Drake, the game’s protagonist, on a ship. He was occupied in different more or less action filled sequences; the ship and its interior looked great and the game play seemed solid. The game appears, judging from all this, to be strongly bound by a story and as such, a single player game. But, the game will also have a multiplayer part. This is a perfect example of a game that at its core is a single player game, but the developers have anyway put in another game mode.
Just because the Call of Duty series have sold millions of copies, mostly because of its well balanced and popular multiplayer modes, do all games have to have a multiplayer mode? Some game worlds or play styles are not suitable for multiplayer, so why “hack” it in? If a multiplayer mode really has to be in the game, then it would be better to release it as an additional game (this wouldn’t be too bad, it could mean more sales; there could even be three version: only SP, only MP and both) or at least pack all the multiplayer code, levels and options in an add-on, that can be bought separately.
Since many developers think they are forced to have a multiplayer mode in their games, this might steal energy and time that instead could have been put on the main game mode to improve the single player experience. Most of the time multiplayer modes have separate or special versions of levels and they might even have a separate game engine (e.g. Medal of Honor). If a game is set in a very special world or with unusual features which has not been seen in a multiplayer game before, then the addition of a multiplayer mode is more reasonable. There are of course exceptions; Crysis 2 had a cool single player campaign and the multiplayer mode was also well made; the old and revolutionary Doom and Quake games were also great SP and MP experiences. Examples of games that instead have made it very well without any multiplayer options are Mirror’s Edge and Alan Wake.
The bottom line is that not all games need a multiplayer mode, due to reason just told and also since it is a risk that these games’ multiplayer modes might be worse than their “pure” multiplayer competitors. That said, maybe the name of this post is a bit drastic; but it would be a shame if all single player games started to focus too much on multiplayer.
Added September 15, after a good comment from a reader (workmancer):
Multiplayer modes are also often added to give extended life to the game; otherwise most gamers will just rent it and finish the Single player campaign or sell it back to the store.