Single player is a "gimmick" says mid-core developer
Gogogic CEO Jonas Antonsson says games are meant to be played with others, whether simultaneously or not
Certain games, like Demon's Souls or DayZ, are purposefully designed to be a challenge, which depending on the player is either satisfying or exasperating. Gogogic CEO Jonas Antonsson thinks that these sorts of games scratch a sort of itch for gamers, and notes that their social components are evidence of how games are moving towards a sort of multiplayer singularity.
"There's clearly an audience for those sorts of games, but if you advertise a game that's going to hurt you and make fun of you, it has to be the right sort of game," said Antonsson. "For the DayZ mod, you have people who have played for days and get killed, but I think that the experience fits with the mood of brutal survival and it becomes an acceptable part of the gameplay. So I think there is a strong audience for hard and unrelenting games - I personally like them - but as core gamers take on added real-life burdens I think they can't spend as much time playing games and that increases the frustration level of losing all your stuff or having to begin from scratch. You learn to appreciate using your time more efficiently."
"I also think that it is worth to note that the single player mechanic is a gimmick - games are meant to be played with others and it doesn't matter if it's in-person or online. The first games were designed as multiplayer experiences, but when computer and console games became a thing there was a need to construct an antagonist and/or a protagonist for commercial purposes," he continued. "You couldn't depend on people coming together to have a synchronous experience over a game. That would have simply stifled sales. And since there was no reasonable way to connect people in other ways - the arcade was the only serious attempt - it became an industry need to project the game as the other player. Playing a game is a multiplayer activity and can easily be seen as such when you watch young toddlers play by themselves. They invent someone to play with, someone that they talk to and interact with."
"The high score list is a simplest way to make a game social, to transform it to an asynchronous multiplayer experience. A simple list allows me to share an experience with others - comparing myself to you in the game. This also becomes a great reason to create games that are hard and difficult to master. Enter the classic hardcore game that allows dedicated players to compare not only scores but progress and in-game assets found or unlocked. But now we can connect people in and around a game through real time PvP and PvE mechanics and the need for pure single player games had gone down. We have multiple plots and stories and build the meta-experience for the entire audience. The premise for making games has changed - reverted back to building multiplayer experiences that are true to the game form."
"This doesn't mean that we have run out of room when it comes to great single-player titles or games that make you sweat and curse every couple of minutes. It means that those titles have to be very appealing and cater well to the hardcore audience," Antonsson added. "So games that drive you crazy can be excellent because they are well designed, not because that's what games are supposed to do or how they should always work."
Read the full interview on [a]list.
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