EA released a statement last week indicating that Visceral Games will be closing and that the studio’s Star Wars game will be overhauled. This is upsetting for a variety of reasons. First off, closing Visceral Games is a travesty. The studio developed gems like the Dead Space series and underrated titles like Battlefield Hardline and Dante’s Inferno. Secondly, while the company assures that they’re “in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA,” there will be a handful of developers that will be out of the job. For me, what upsets me the most is that the game will be nothing like it’s original vision.
Here’s the official statement from EA.
“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”
The untitled Star Wars game that Visceral was working on is no more. First, the talented Amy Hennig is no longer attached to the title. Also, it’s obvious that EA has different plans for the game because of this quote. “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.” They even talk about creating a “broader experience” for players. Without explicitly saying it, I can guarantee that EA’s phrasing ensures that this Star Wars game will be a multiplayer-centric experience.
Unsurprisingly, this seems to be the direction that the industry is heading. Look at some of the most popular games available at the moment. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Destiny 2, the Call of Duty franchise, Battlefield franchise, and various sports games like Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K. Earlier this month, Epic Games revealed that Fortnite: Battle Royale surpassed 10 million players in a matter of weeks. It’s clear that the biggest hits in the gaming industry feature heavy multiplayer components. This is the direction that we’re heading- Multiplayer is taking precedent to single-player video games.
While multiplayer video games are fun and engaging, I often find them impersonal. Most of my time online is spent with some of my closest friends playing Destiny 2, Halo 5: Guardians, Rainbow Six: Siege, Gears of War 4, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on PC. These are some of the best multiplayer games available at the moment on Xbox and PC. No matter how fun they may be, however, there’s a disconnect between myself and the game. I’ve clocked in over 400 hours of multiplayer in Rainbow Six: Siege, but I hate the fact that there aren’t characters to bond with. Despite having played the campaign in Halo 5: Guardians twice, 80% of my time with the game is dedicated to multiplayer. I experience 343’s excellent game apart from the characters they brought to life. When someone asks me about the game, I won’t ever suggest the campaign. I rave about the Arena modes instead.
The reasoning for this is that the campaign is forgettable. It’s a short experience that doesn’t warrant multiple playthroughs. I feel the same way about Gears of War 4 and Destiny 2. I’m more invested in the competitive multiplayer modes over the narrative. While The Coalition and Bungie both created fantastic story lines for their games, the primary focus for both studios is definitely the multiplayer aspects. Most people play campaigns one time and then move on to the multiplayer modes. Sometimes, people skip the campaign altogether (or drop off halfway through) and then just focus on the competitive modes. Take a look at some of the campaign completion rates for games with popular multiplayer components.
- Battlefield 1 – 9.57% of players finished the campaign
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered – 12.63% of players finished the campaign
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – 12.96% of players finished the campaign
- Titanfall 2 – 26.78% of players finished the campaign
- Halo 5: Guardians – 27.15% of players finished the campaign
- Gears of War 4 – 31.69% of players finished the campaign
These numbers are alarming. While the campaigns for Gears of War 4 and Halo 5: Guardians didn’t grasp me, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Remastered featured stellar story lines. In fact, Titanfall 2 has one of the best campaigns I’ve had the pleasure to play in years. It’s a shame that so much of the player base has yet to fully experience what the developers dedicated their time, resources and effort to create for gamers all over the world. I find it interesting that so many players would prefer to enjoy the multiplayer modes rather than experiencing an engaging narrative.
Single-player video games are important. In fact, I think we should prioritize these games over multiplayer experiences. Look at some of the best games released on the market over the past few years. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Life Is Strange, The Last of Us, Bioshock, Mass Effect 2, and Alan Wake all feature top-notch experiences. These are titles that the video game industry and fans spoke about for a long time. Even after ten years, people still discuss the iconic Bioshock.
The most effective single-player games are those that speak to players long after the credits roll. One of my favorite games of all time is Life Is Strange. I’ve talked about it for hours with family and friends since beating it two years ago. The five episodes making up season one made me laugh, cry, feel happy, sad, depressed, concerned, and shocked. I cared about the characters on an emotional level and enjoyed the 10 hours I spent with them. I can tell you each of their backstories and interests. A great single-player game is one that doesn’t end once the credits scroll. A wonderful game is an experience that transcends the narrative that the developers created.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a stellar open-world action RPG from the brilliant team at CD Projekt RED. Geralt’s latest adventure features stunning visuals, intuitive combat, a wonderful cast of characters, and a gripping narrative throughout the 50 hour game. There are two full expansions, and players attempting to complete every single quest and find all collectibles will easily spend over 120 hours exploring the vast landscapes found within The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
There isn’t a multiplayer game out there that can give me that type of feeling. I’ve spent so much of my life playing competitive titles on Xbox Live. No matter how many victories I get, the feeling of satisfaction I get is minimal. Years from now, will I remember that fantastic comeback my team made in Destiny 2? Will the wins my clan achieved in Halo 2 matter years from now? None of those games have a lasting effect. I don’t have any fond memories of any recent Xbox Live experiences. Sure, you can record clips on your console, but the countless videos I make will begin to lose their luster over time.
What I do remember are the fantastic single-player games I’ve played over the past two decades. I’ll never forget the first time I played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The ending of Kingdom Hearts will be etched in my memory forever. The time I spent with Max and Chloe in Life Is Strange will be a treasured memory. Every star I collected in Super Mario 64 meant something to me. Whether it was an adventure with Crash Bandicoot, Sly Cooper, Blinx, or even a blood-soaked journey with Ryu Hayabusa in Ninja Gaiden, some of my best gaming memories came from single-player experiences.
I don’t think single-player titles will be gone anytime soon, but the fact that “games as a service” and multiplayer games are becoming more prominent scares me. If you love single-player games as much as I do, speak with your wallet. Purchase the latest single-player game, tweet at a developer and let them know how you feel about it. If we continue the conversation and show our support for the single-player game, there’s a chance that they will have a bigger presence in the industry going forward.
Are you a fan of single-player games or do you prefer multiplayer? Do you think we’ll se a big change in the video game industry? Leave a comment below.