Single-player games not dying, says Dishonored dev

Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith says that single-player hasn't found its audience limit yet, and more multiplayer games doesn't necessarily mean that pure single-player experiences are dying out.


This generation's focus on online connectivity and publishers' recent attempts to curb used game sales has resulted in multiplayer modes being outfitted for games that previously hadn't seen them. This has led some to lament the death of the pure single-player game experience. Dishonored creative director Harvey Smith feels that those reports are greatly exaggerated.

"Every time someone announces the death of the single-player game, something like The Sims or BioShock Infinite comes along and does different things well," Smith told Games Industry International. "So far we haven't capped out. It's not like Dota fans are buying Dota and not playing Skyrim, or buying Dishonored and therefore not buying Madden. I think there's a bunch of different audience types and we haven't even hit the limit yet."

Smith did point out that the models for games inevitably change, and they already have--from quarters in arcades to retail boxed products, and now the advent of free-to-play games. He also remarked that while he's heard some fans calling for a multiplayer Dishonored, the volume of response has been much heavier on the side of being grateful for a single-player focus.

"I hope there's some specialization happening and people are going to have to do one thing well or three things well instead of trying to do the same 12 things everyone else is doing," he said.

That point is well-made, seeing as some developers have chosen to drop multiplayer while others have regretted their inability to do so.

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  • reply
    March 26, 2013 2:15 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Single-player games not dying, says Dishonored dev.

    Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith says that single-player hasn't found its audience limit yet, and more multiplayer games doesn't necessarily mean that pure single-player experiences are dying out.

    • reply
      March 26, 2013 2:22 PM

      I know I personally love both like he mentions. Love SC2, over a 1000 games played, but also loved dishonored and great single player experiences. There is room for both.

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      March 26, 2013 2:33 PM

      I'm wondering if this is true for other people...If I'm tired and it's late at night I can play multiplayer shit for hours without getting sleepy, but single player tends to put me right to sleep, regardless of how good they are.

      I love single player but I think it's usually less engaging and alive for me and I have to be in the mood. As I get older I can also spend entire afternoons playing an online RTS, MOBA, or shooter, but I can only handle single player in shorter spurts.

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        March 26, 2013 2:38 PM

        I am the opposite ... as I get older I have less of a desire to play multiplayer and more of a desire to relax and play/explore a game at my own pace.

        And it pisses me off to no end that developers keep sticking on multiplayer to games that don't need it :(

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          March 26, 2013 2:46 PM

          I'm with you. For example, while the story is so-so for Borderlands 2, played with some friends, one of which was constantly like "COME ON GO GO GO MOVE WHERE ARE YOU WWRRRRGGGHHHHH" and we ended up missing a bunch of story beats and jokes and all that other stuff. I like being able to look around, see the world and meet the characters. I hate being rushed through a game, regardless of how deep the story is.

          That's not to say that I don't mind playing with other people because sometimes it's super fun depending on the game.

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          March 26, 2013 3:02 PM

          homeboyjim is correct in all counts.

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          March 26, 2013 3:12 PM

          Yup; that and the lead time of getting a group together makes it easier to start a single-player campaign and enjoy a gameplay mechanic without having to wait for a good group of players, or try to put up with a bad group of players.

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          March 26, 2013 5:22 PM

          MP is dark souls really appeals to me for this very reason

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      March 26, 2013 2:49 PM

      Most of the games I buy lately are actually single player games.

      I can only handle one or two mutiplayer games at a time, and I tend to dive into them over extended periods of time, so I'm rarely in the market for one and even when I am only the best of the best wins out. Single player games are an entirely different beast entirely which makes it easier to buy more of them.

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      March 26, 2013 3:00 PM

      I pretty much only play SP games right now. Most MP games are grindy pieces of plain shit, or have awful communities.

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      March 26, 2013 3:02 PM

      of course they aren't. the only people claiming they are - are quite stupid.

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      March 26, 2013 4:10 PM

      The most clear example that single player games aren't dying is Bioshock infinite xD.

      And, another example, is Half life, everyone wants to play HL3. Well everyone that manages to live enough to see the release date XD.

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      March 26, 2013 4:17 PM

      Speaking of multiplayer has anyone tried it with Tomb Raider? How is it?

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        March 26, 2013 4:38 PM

        Fucking awful with a pinch of lag

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      March 26, 2013 5:16 PM

      Not to mention that they had Bethesda's money behind marketing their game / incentivizing reviewers.

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      March 26, 2013 9:01 PM

      I've enjoyed some multiplayer in my day (I'll be 30 this year). The last games I really enjoyed playing deathmatch on were the likes of Duke Nukem 3D, Quake 2, and Unreal Tournament (the first one).

      Now, Dead Island I've played five times, but I only co-op it with my brother. It's a blast. Tried playing it single player and it sucked. Doing the Ryder White campaign alone just felt... lacking.

      That said, I've always loved single player more than multiplayer. In the case of old games like Dark Forces, Duke 3D, RoTT, it allowed me to have a blast (literally), explore, and just have good ol' balls to the walls fun.

      But I remember the first game that so completely immersed me in the world and environment of the game that it was nearly a religious experience, and that was the first Unreal game. Holy. Shit.

      Things have gotten even better since then, with games like HL, HL2 or Portal (yeah, a little Valve love here), muting their protagonists so you get to walk a mile in their skin.

      I'll play L4D with friends, but that's how it was meant to be played.

      Oblivion, Skyrim, Dishonored, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, the Fallout games... I'll always prefer a massive world to explore with a good story, good writing, and good characters to multiplayer any day of the week.

      And how bout the Max Payne series?


      I'll be in my bunk.

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      March 27, 2013 5:29 AM

      I never do multi anymore. Who has time for that shit? Its endless. It could go on forever. There is no end game. The older I get the less interested in multi I am by a long shot

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      March 27, 2013 7:40 AM

      The people that say single player games are dying are the people making shitty single player games.

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      March 27, 2013 3:09 PM

      I don't think lot of developers fully understand when and when not add multiplayer or add a single player. You have games that add single player components for marketing reasons with full knowledge it will only be played once. Others add multiplayer which goes mostly unplayed for basically the same reason to add another bullet point on the box art. Single and Multi-player has to make sense to the game.

      Think about some of the recent MMO games like SWTOR that has a highly scripted and voice acted character story that could for the most part be played like a solo game of KOTOR.

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