Take-Two boss says single-player games aren't dead

midian182

Posts: 6,672   +59
Staff member
A hot potato: The rise of multiplayer and live service games over the last decade has been phenomenal. Few companies can testify to this quite like Take-Two Interactive, parent of Rockstar Games and 2K Games, though its CEO says that when it comes to single-player experiences, claims of their death have been greatly exaggerated.

Speaking during a recent earnings call (via Gamespot), Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick said: "The folks at Rockstar Games intended to create a powerful single-player experience a story-driven experience. And Rockstar has always been known for great stories and great single-player experiences and then developed in addition, a massive multiplayer opportunity over the past years."

Grand Theft Auto V has moved 140 million copies, making it the second best-selling game of all time behind Minecraft. With "expanded and enhanced" versions coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, the game's commercial success will extend into a third console generation—it arrived on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September 2013, just before the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which didn't see versions of the game until November 2014.

Both GTA V and Rockstar's other flagship, Red Dead Redemption 2, saw record player numbers last year, despite neither of them ever receiving any single-player DLC. And it's all thanks to their multiplayer elements.

"I think it's a reminder, not that we needed one, that Rockstar Games can do both of those things [multiplayer and single-player] at the highest possible level of execution in our business," Zelnick said.

Steam's bestsellers list is populated with multiplayer or multiplayer-focused titles, including Valheim at number one, Rust in second, RDR2, Raft, and Sea of Thieves. It's led to renewed calls that single-player gaming is dead, replaced by multiplayer titles and live services that are a constant source of income for the companies behind them; it's an argument that's been around as long as "PC gaming is dead." You might imagine Zelnick would agree, but he's in the other camp.

"There was an argument just a couple of years ago […] in some of our competitors' offices, that single-player is dead, that it's all about multiplayer," he said. "We didn't believe that. I said specifically and publicly that we didn't believe that—our labels don't believe that."

Sadly, with Rockstar focusing on their multiplayer elements and the PS5/XBSX versions, we're unlikely to ever see any single-player DLC for GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2. Let's hope GTA VI doesn't take too long to arrive.

Do you think the industry is heading more towards multiplayer and live service games, leaving single-player-only titles in scarce supply, or will there always be a market for solo experiences?

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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
Well at least there is SOME good news! That 9" of snow they promised for over night ended up being barely 1/2" so there was no fun driving around and seeing all the hillbilly's with their trucks in the ditch ..... sigh .....
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 389   +670
Of course they're not dead: most indie games thrive on single player experiences, way more than multiplayer ones imo. But for a large mega corporation with many diverse titles (So, Ubisoft, EA, Activision) they kind of are.

To elaborate lets look at this as business first: For most people you would assume "Once you get to certain value for your company, you're a success you've officially made it" but that's because you're only thinking smaller, as a regular person would: You can go up in numbers like 1 million I'll buy a house or retire, 10 million I'd buy a damn good house, sports car and still retire AND leave lots for my family.

But a corporation usually goes public or is aiming to go public has to respond to investors. And people who invest on your company do so because they expect you to get them *more* money. So once you reach those "10 million for all the owners" at which point most sane, sensible people would quit, you probably haven't reached that for investors. So you MUST keep expanding, more and more. And if that doesn't do it then you bring even more investments in and suddenly you become not just a business but an out of control entity that just devours anything it can to feed the relentless board of directors.

Under this paradigm, single player games just cannot reach that level of engagement at this point: even the most successful entertainment product of all time, GTA V, has an estimate of 6 billion. But I need to remind you GTA Online counts for a lot of that too. To put that in perspective that's around 40 times less revenue than Apple on a year and not the 5 to 10 years it takes to make a game the size of GTA V. So you're basically rather small time even for such a big, genre defining level of reach.

So you either double down on the one single player product you made to create full franchises, until those get repetitive (Think Ubisoft, who's already making public statements about quitting that strategy) or you are subject to terrible ups and downs (Think Nintendo, who might have a runaway success one generation, an utter failure the next one, and several lukewarm to ok years in between) Neither of this things sound good to investors.

If you then show them something new and explosive like the ROI and overall profitability of Gacha mobile games, now they might be more willing to give you more chances, maybe even bring even more investors on board to push this through even harder. If you don't? Well you better start firing people, closing down studios and make them think "Yeah we did not expand but we expanded our profits!" and some other terrible practices that pretty much end up molding the AAA industry we all know and hate.
 

BSim500

Posts: 791   +1,731
"Do you think the industry is heading more towards multiplayer and live service games, leaving single-player-only titles in scarce supply, or will there always be a market for solo experiences?"
Probably the best reminder needed is that AAA gaming doesn't = PC gaming. Indie's are mostly single-player and hardly in "scarce" supply. Thank God... If it weren't for games like Cuphead, Frostpunk, Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun, Styx, Divinity Original Sin, etc, I probably would have given up on PC gaming altogether if all that was left was a 'choice' of 3,782x Battle Royale clones with the same old peer approval seeking driven audience of cheaters, squeakers and trolls, or the same dozen or so 1992-2007 era "safe IP" / "tickbox development" single player franchises annually reskinned and over-sequelled to eternity...
 
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toooooot

Posts: 1,462   +733
Games become less and less games, and more and more business projects.
It is sad if you witnessed this change for a long way.
Also, with attention span of 10 minutes for most gamers, more and more companies cater to this audience. Fortnight saw and took advantage of this well.
Next, more and more companies figure out how easy it is to milk their underage customers.
They are not careful, they don't think and process that for example an xp boost is the ****ing cheapest way to rub a gamer.
Finally, they are all figuring out how to outsource most of their work, hiring from poor countries to complete various parts of their games. Which is disgusting. You sell most copies in rich countries, yet you deny people a chance to earn a living in the same countries.
And the product of these companies is usually soulless, lacking in variety and surprises set of quests, all looking like very ugly twin brothers. And when they manage to to make a nice looking game, filled with fun activities in a dangerous world, they of course clog it like a shitter with their political propaganda, destroying the very things the games are--fun.
 

Hexic

Posts: 936   +1,294
TechSpot Elite
If companies like Ubisoft would quit re-releasing the exact same reskinned game every year or two, the negative stigma of single player games would be significantly reduced.

Some originality and brand new IP that isn’t the same thing as what’s been done before, with the same game mechanics would help the single player experience.

The reason multiplayer games do so well is because the -players- are the ones who create the content via in game experiences that constantly change, and are new every time. Single player games can’t compete directly game to game with MMO’s or even some good FPSs because you can only code so many of the same interactions, missions, etc.
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,991   +2,779
Games become less and less games, and more and more business projects.
It is sad if you witnessed this change for a long way.
This is sadly true. It's only indie studios that have to rely on their games actually being good to succeed. But once they succeed they will become like other AAA devs which are all about using games as a tool to rinse their stupid fanbase.

If companies like Ubisoft would quit re-releasing the exact same reskinned game every year or two, the negative stigma of single player games would be significantly reduced.
I don't know if there's a stigma surrounding single player games, it's just that in this online era devs realized battle royale and survival type games are popular where you have a big open map with 100 players or so. Your favorite streamers are queing up together for these games and they're contributing to their popularity.

And you can also add Call of Duty to that list. The difference between the last few versions is minimal, mostly visual.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 800   +1,127
This is probably because anyone in their right mind playing GTAO on PC is doing it singleplayer by blocking ports, so they can actually play the full game without using a hobbled invite-only lobby or deal with the radioactive sewage pit that is GTAO's community on PC.
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 1,006   +473
The entire gaming world was drooling all of 2020 for a single player only game (cp 2077), a lot of Ubisoft's games are single player games that allow coop if you choose ( Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, ghost recon). Ea seems to have given some thought and effort into single player with Jedi fallen order and with both next gen battlefielda keeping single player campaigns. Cod got lots of flak for dropping single player in black ops 4 came back with two of there best single player campaigns so far in MW and cold war. I don't see it as dead by a long shot, but multiplayer is just so dang popular what did you expect. I play around 90% of my games in single player and I'll have had plenty to play in the last 10 years.
 

MaitieS

Posts: 88   +85
I feel like whoever said at EA that SP games are dead is just totally out of touch with the whole gaming industry which pretty much fits cuz these type of entities are usually somewhere where they shouldn't be.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,390   +941
Well at least there is SOME good news! That 9" of snow they promised for over night ended up being barely 1/2" so there was no fun driving around and seeing all the hillbilly's with their trucks in the ditch ..... sigh .....
I saw you in the ditch
 

lostinlodos

Posts: 184   +44
Not only is it not dead, there’s many millions who don’t play online. Including myself. There’s entire forums for single player fans; unlocking SPM, empty servers to play alone, etc.

Some of us get tired very quickly of having a plane fall on our car or getting shot in the back etc.