Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will be unveiled today, and there's already been some talk about whether or not the game will include a single player-campaign. It would be understandable if it didn't, given a report yesterday showing that across 13 Call of Duty titles, Xbox and PC players on average finished less than 40 per cent of the story.
TrueAchievements, a site that tracks achievements across Microsoft platforms, published this report illustrating the Story Participation Average for various games. It defines the SPA as "the average percentage of unlocked story-line achievements for gamers that have started the game" and gives data for every major Call of Duty release going back to Call of Duty 2, plus a handful of averages for other more story-focused series such as Fallout, Halo, Gears of War, and Mass Effect.
"Less than 40 per cent" is true but a bit generous, as only a few titles spanning back to Call of Duty 2 topped 30 per cent of the story completed. Most sat somewhere in the 20 to 30 per cent range, with recent release Call of Duty: WWII at 29 per cent and Infinite Warfare at a measly 16 per cent SPA.
For WWII, only 22 per cent of all Xbox players finished the story in its entirety on any difficulty. And if the rumors surrounding Black Ops 4's lack of single player story are true, it would be hard to argue with the reasoning. Black Ops 3 has the lowest SPA of the tracked games at only 4 per cent of the story achievements completed on average.
These findings are less surprising in light of the numbers for franchises that are primarily single-player campaigns, with either no or limited multiplayer. Fallout, for example, is on the low end of the series looked at with an average of 16 per cent SPA, suggesting players spend more time exploring the world than completing the main story.
Battlefield makes it up to 28 per cent, Gears of War to 36 per cent, and Mass Effect is at the top of the sample with an average of 50 per cent SPA across all four games.
Though the bell may be tolling for campaigns in Call of Duty games, single-player isn't going to disappear across the board just because players aren't finishing campaigns. As GamesIndustry.biz found this week speaking to Eidos Montreal, Play Magic, and Dontnod, developers primarily focused on single player are hungry for new ways to offer that type of experience.
Don't expect the "death of single player" anytime soon, but if Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 can attract the series' usual numbers without a campaign, it may pave the way for fewer campaigns as 'extras' in multiplayer-focused games.