A single-player video game is a video game where input from only one player is expected throughout the course of the gaming session. A single-player game is usually a game that can only be played by one person, while "single-player mode" is usually a game mode designed to be played by a single player, though the game also contains multi-player modes.
Most modern console games and arcade games are designed so that they can be played by a single player; although many of these games have modes that allow two or more players to play (not necessarily simultaneously), very few actually require more than one player for the game to be played. The Unreal Tournament series is one example of such.
The earliest video games, such as Tennis for Two (1958), Spacewar! (1962), and Pong (1972), were symmetrical games designed to be played by two players. Single-player games gained popularity only after this, with early titles such as Speed Race (1974)and Space Invaders (1978).
The reason for this, according to Raph Koster, is down to a combination of several factors: increasingly sophisticated computers and interfaces that enabled asymmetric gameplay, cooperative gameplay and story delivery within a gaming framework, coupled with the fact that the majority of early games players had introverted personality types (according to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator).
Although most modern games incorporate a single-player element either as the core or as one of several game modes, single-player gaming is currently viewed by the video game industry as peripheral to the future of gaming, with Electronic Arts vice president Frank Gibeau stating in 2012 that he had not approved one game to be developed as a single-player experience.
The question of the financial viability of single-player AAA games was raised following the closure of Visceral Games by Electronic Arts (EA) in October 2017. Visceral had been a studio that established itself on a strong narrative single-player focus with Dead Space , and had been working on a single-player, linear narrative Star Wars game at the time of the closure; EA announced following this that they would be taking the game in a different direction, specifically "a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency".Many commentators felt that EA made the change as they did not have confidence that a studio with an AAA-scale budget could produce a viable single-player game based on the popular Star Wars franchise. Alongside this, as well as relatively poor sales of games in the year prior that were principally AAA single-player games ( Resident Evil 7 , Prey , Dishonored 2 , and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ) against financially successful multiplayer games and those offer a games-as-a-service model ( Overwatch , Destiny 2 , and Star Wars Battlefront 2 ), were indicators to many that the single-player model for AAA was waning. Manveer Heir, who had left EA after finishing his gameplay design work for Mass Effect Andromeda , acknowledged that the culture within EA was against the development of single-player games, and with Visceral's closure, "that the linear single-player triple-A game at EA is dead for the time being". Bethesda on December 7, 2017, decided to collaborate with Lynda Carter to launch a Public Safety Announcement to save single-player gaming.
A few years later in 2021, EA was reported to have revived interest in single-player games, following the successful launch of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2020. The company still planned on releasing live service games with multiplayer components, but began evaluating its IP catalog for more single-player titles to revive, such as a remake of the Dead Space franchise.Around the same time, head of Xbox Game Studios Phil Spencer said that they still see a place for narrative-driven single-player games even though the financial drivers of the market tended to be live service games. Spencer said that developing such games with AAA-scale budgets can be risky, but with availability of services like cloud gaming and subscription services, they can gauge audience reaction to these games early on and reduce the risk involved before releases.
As the narrative and conflict in single-player gameplay is created by a computer rather than a human opponent, single-player games are able to deliver certain gaming experiences that are typically absent - or de-emphasised - in multiplayer games.
Single-player games rely more heavily on compelling stories to draw the player into the experience and to create a sense of investment. Humans are unpredictable, so human players - allies or enemies - cannot be relied upon to carry a narrative in a particular direction, and so multiplayer games tend not to focus heavily on a linear narrative. By contrast, many single-player games are built around a compelling story.
While a multi-player game relies upon human-human interaction for its conflict, and often for its sense of camaraderie, a single-player game must build these things artificially. As such, single-player games require deeper characterisation of their non-player characters in order to create connections between the player and the sympathetic characters and to develop deeper antipathy towards the game's antagonists. This is typically true of role-playing games (RPGs), such as Dragon Quest and the Final Fantasy , which are primarily character-driven.
These game elements are not firm, fixed rules; single-player puzzle games such as Tetris or racing games focus squarely on gameplay.
Battlefield 1942 is a 2002 first-person shooter video game developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. The game can be played in single-player mode against the video game AI or in multiplayer mode against players on the Internet or in a local area network. It is a popular platform for mod developers, with many released modifications that alter the gameplay and theme.
A multiplayer video game is a video game in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same time, either locally and on the same computing system, locally and on different computing systems via a local area network, or via a wide area network, most commonly the Internet. Multiplayer games usually require players to share a single game system or use networking technology to play together over a greater distance; players may compete against one or more human contestants, work cooperatively with a human partner to achieve a common goal, or supervise other players' activity. Due to multiplayer games allowing players to interact with other individuals, they provide an element of social communication absent from single-player games.
Unreal Tournament is a first-person arena shooter video game developed by Epic Games and Digital Extremes. The second installment in the Unreal series, it was first published by GT Interactive in 1999 for Microsoft Windows, and later released on the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast by Infogrames in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Players compete in a series of matches of various types, with the general aim of out-killing opponents. The PC version supports multiplayer online or over a local area network. Free expansion packs were released, some of which were bundled with a 2000 re-release: Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition.
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Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict is a first- and third-person arena shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Midway Games. It was released in April 2005 for Xbox. The game is part of the Unreal franchise, and is a direct sequel to 2002's Unreal Championship. Unreal Championship 2 was designed from the ground up to take full advantage of the Xbox Live gaming service. A Microsoft Windows port was in development but has since been cancelled.
Cooperative video game, often abbreviated as co-op, is a video game that allows players to work together as teammates, usually against one or more non-player character opponents (PvE).
Over one hundred video games based on the Star Wars franchise have been released, dating back to some of the earliest home consoles. Some are based directly on films while others rely heavily on the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
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Star Wars: Battlefront is a series of first- and third-person shooter video games based on the Star Wars films. Players take the role of soldiers in either of two opposing armies in different time periods of the Star Wars universe.
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Dead Space 2 is a 2011 survival horror game developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for PlayStation 3, Windows, and Xbox 360 in January. The second mainline entry in the Dead Space series, set on the Titan-based Sprawl space station, the story follows series protagonist Isaac Clarke as he fights against both an outbreak of the monstrous Necromorphs and debilitating mental illness induced by the alien Markers. Gameplay features Isaac exploring a series of levels, solving puzzles to progress, and finding resources while fighting off Necromorphs. The game included a competitive multiplayer, with the Sprawl's security forces fighting teams of Necromorphs.
Visceral Games was an American video game developer studio owned by Electronic Arts. The studio is best known for the Dead Space series.
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Dead Space 3 is a 2013 survival horror action video game that was developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is the third-and-final main entry in the Dead Space series. The game's story follows player-character Isaac Clarke and his allies as they explore the frozen planet Tau Volantis to discover the origins of the growing threat from their enemies the Necromorphs. Players control Isaac and explore the environment, solve puzzles, and find resources while fighting Necromorphs and hostile humans called Unitologists. The game supports online cooperative, multiplayer sessions in which a second player takes the role of new character John Carver.
Eve: Valkyrie is a multiplayer dogfighting shooter game set in the Eve Online universe that is designed to use virtual reality headset technology. Originally launched for Microsoft Windows for use with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, CCP Games has announced they plan to enable cross-platform play between the three major VR systems: the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR. Released in March 2016, the game has two game mode options: Chronicles can be played in single player, while Combat allows eight by eight combat PvP missions. Reviews generally criticised the limited plot and limitations of single player mode, although the described "arcade experience" was praised for having intuitive controls and "exhilarating" dogfighting features, with PC Powerplay dubbing it "arguably the best VR experience currently available for the [Oculus Rift] platform."
Battlefield Hardline is a first-person shooter video game developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts. It was released in March 2015 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Unlike the previous games in the Battlefield series, Hardline focuses on crime, heist and policing elements instead of military warfare.
Star Wars Battlefront II is an action shooter video game based on the Star Wars franchise. It is the fourth main installment of the Star Wars: Battlefront series, and a sequel to the 2015 reboot of the series. It was developed by DICE, in collaboration with Criterion Games and Motive Studios, and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released worldwide on November 17, 2017, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The game features both single-player and multiplayer modes, and overall includes more content than its predecessor. The single-player campaign of the game is set between the films Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and follows an original character, Iden Versio, the commander of an Imperial special ops squad, who defects to the New Republic after becoming disillusioned with the Galactic Empire's tactics. Most of the story takes place during the final year of the Galactic Civil War, before the Empire's definitive defeat at the Battle of Jakku.
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