The Outer Worlds (Single-Player Games)

A few years ago during the start of the console generation, the video game industry mourned the death of single-player games. Many publishers began to favor multiplayer and games as a service models, placing emphasis on games that could exceed its USD$60 value in order to bring in recurring revenue. However, in the last few years, especially in 2017-2019, single-player games are as strong as ever, whereas live service games are struggling to get a foothold.

This past week saw a slew of financial reports from companies. In particular, Take-Two Interactive noted that both Borderlands 3 and The Outer Worlds performed well. Borderlands 3 sold 5 million copies in its first week post launch, which is up 50 percent from Borderlands 2. Additionally, Take-Two said The Outer Worlds was a critical and commercial success, exceeding sales expectations.

Launching of a new IP such as The Outer Worlds is risky, but a mix of good marketing and timing allowed the game to receive the attention it needed. Regarding the latter, Bethesda recently launched Fallout 1st, its premium subscription service for Fallout 76, during the same week that The Outer Worlds was scheduled to launch. On top of that were reports that its perks, such as private servers and unlimited scrapbox space were not working as intended. Players were reporting thattheir friends could jump into their private servers and the scapbox was eating all of the items put into it, essentially sending them into the void. This controversy caused players to look toward The Outer Worlds, a single-player game with no strings attached, made by the creators of Fallout New Vegas

What makes Bethesda and the controversy around Fallout 76 incredibly ironic is thatduring the 2017 Game Awards, Bethesda launched the Save Player One campaign that celebrated single-player games. The glitches and bugs in Bethesda games had their charms, but when placed in a live service game, expectations are much higher. Live service games require constant updates and bug squashing, the latter that something that Bethesda is inept at even doing. Bethesda, once seen as the bastion of the games industry, has squandered its goodwill with its player base. Unfortunately, the whole situation is a shame because now Bethesda joins the ranks of EA, Activision, and Ubisoft as companies that gamers enjoy piling on whenever a controversy involves them.

Speaking of Activision, the company’s financial report states it had been experiencing a decrease in sales and player engagement. A sizeable part of that could be because of Bungie’s newfound independence from Activision with Destiny 2, and no longer holds the publishing rights for game and cannot include it in financial reports. However, Activision says that the recently launched Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is doing well, with its first week sales up from last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. This can be attributed to Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign, which has been receiving praise from numerous gaming media outlets. It’s important to note its campaign because Black Ops 4 opted to cut a single-player campaign in favor of a live service battle royale mode.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare game screenshot tactical gameplay

Blizzard, also part of Activision, announced Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV last weekend at BlizzCon 2019. Interestingly, Overwatch 2 will include a story mode, but does not have a release date so far. Keep in mind that Blizzard has not launched any new games since Overwatch in 2016, and Blizzard stated that Diablo IV will not release any time soon. Additionally, Diablo IV will be always online, indicating that it will be treated as a live service game. I would not be surprised if Activision’s revenues continue to fall until the launch of both games as players are moving on to new experiences.

In other great news for single player games, Capcom said that Resident Evil 2 Remake, Devil May Cry 5, and Monster Hunter World have sold incredibly well and the company is looking to revive its old IP. Publisher Focus Home Interactive also stated that Greedfall and A Plague Tale: Innocence drove tremendous growth. These reports show that single-player experiences are vital to the industry.

George Yang
When George isn't playing video games, he's writing about video games! His dream one day is to be some kind of host on a video games media platform.

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16 Comments

  1. Singleplayer games will never die. We need them, still more that it seems.

  2. Thanks for this! I’m not going to lie, when all the reports about the death of single player games started rolling in I got pretty bummed. I ONLY play single player games, so I was pretty worried.

    It’s nice to see the reports were wrong though and that they’re thriving!

    1. I play some online games once in a while, but the death of singleplayer games is really something to get bummed. Thank gosh they’re wrong.

    2. Single player is all that I do too. All I’ve been doing since the 80s, and that’s all that I want to keep on with. I want an experience between myself the the CPU, where I can spend 60-100+ hours exploring a world and discovering all of its secrets while enjoying a good story and characters.

  3. The death of single player games is a myth that the AAA industry has been trying to perpetuate for years. Only because they are not interested in making single player games, since they are much harder to monetize. This is why I’m actually fine with AAA single player games dying, because I know the game industry and I know they will try all possible tricks in the book to keep us paying past the $60 box price. I guess we will see if I’m right once the Jedi Fallen Order launches.

    Meanwhile, the AA and indie single player games have been thriving lately. And it’s easy to see why: because AAA is no longer interested in satisfying the market demand for these games.

    1. Maybe you should try rechargeables.

      1. … eheh? *tumbleweed rolls by*

        Probably not one of your best tries, friend.

      2. … eheh? *tumbleweed rolls by*

        Probably not one of your best tries, friend.

    2. Agreed! AAA studios are corporations just looking at the bottom line not making quality games that will sell well, doesn’t matter if it’s SP, GAS, or any mix, they are only looking at the next quarter earnings.

    3. Eh, while I’ve gotten some enjoyment out of AA RPGs this year in Greedfall and The Outer Worlds, I really crave the epic, long, beautiful games that AAA studios are capable of when they choose to. Eagerly waiting for ES6, DA4, the next AC game, and the sequel to HZD.

  4. Death to GAS, Long live single player!

  5. GREAT NEWS.

  6. Good.

  7. Understanding the economics of video games is not something most consumers would spend time doing. after all they are just looking for some entertainment and not a crash course. but still articles like this help a lot in clarifying things. Here’s an article about The Outer Worlds if you are interested.

  8. Good resume of good news. I like single player games, they offer real escape for me. I find most multiplayer as a part time job, and I can no longer get into that while trying to be a father.

  9. Good news all around. Creative and passionate developers are getting rewarded for their dedication and hard work, while the greedy money driven portion of the industry is finally being recognized as talent deprived insidious ghouls that they are.

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