Game over for offline titles?

23 Dec 2010


The final school bell of the week had barely finished ringing but I was already out of the door and running to the shops. Metal Gear Solid was on sale and I wasn’t about to wait any longer than necessary.

I don’t remember much about that weekend that doesn’t involve Solid Snake, hiding in the shadows and sneak attacks. At some point I might have slept and I assume I escaped the gaze of my enemies for long enough to take a bite out of a sandwich on a couple of occasions.

What I do remember is it being over. I had achieved my sole objective for the weekend, I completed Metal Gear Solid. I took it out of my PlayStation and put it back in the box. I never played it again.

Offering 25 hours of single player action is no longer enough, according to EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau. Games must offer connected gameplay with multiplayer, cooperative or online services to survive, he said.

So is this the end for offline gaming?

You only have to look at the top of the gaming charts to see how important online gaming is today.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is armed with a massive online arena, where adversaries from around the world can meet on a whole range of maps and pick each other off at will. Some gamers leave the single-player mode for later and jump straight into online play. Why take on campaign mode when there’s a boy from America who has prestiged three times to take down a peg or two?

Online battles are fierce on Call of Duty

Infinity Blade has been a runaway success on the iPad, but it’s going to get much bigger once it is updated to include multiplayer mode. The perennial Pro Evo v Fifa debate now depends just as much on the online arena as it does gameplay.

Games can also be expanded or improved with downloadable content, while gamers are measuring their fastest times against the world with online leaderboards. Gamers have tasted what the internet can bring to games and now they want more of it.

But maybe Mr Gibeau was premature in reading games without online content their last button-bashing rites.

Titles which don’t make full use of the internet are still proving a hit with gamers.

Mass Effect 2 didn’t need an online multiplayer mode to be a success. It instead relied on a strong storyline and great characters like Shephard to help it become a hit. Similarly, Bayonetta only had a single-player mode but sold well when it came out little under a year ago.

The lesson that EA and other game developers should take from it all is that yes, online gaming is terrific and we want it… But it is no excuse to leave single-player mode underdeveloped and deny gamers the glory of reaching the summit.

Metal Gear Solid only lasted a weekend for me. And it was gaming bliss.

Is online gaming a must for you or are you content to stay on single-player mode? Comment below…