Crytek Wants Singleplayer to Disappear — We Don’t

In an interview with IGN last week, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli expressed some alarming opinions on the future of singleplayer gaming — namely, that it should vanish. He said:

“I think the notion of a single-player experience has to go away. However, I’m not saying that there will be no single-player experiences … it could be it’s called Connected Single-Player or Online Single-Player instead.

“Online and social can reignite single-player in a new type of context and provide benefits that will make you want to be a part of a connected story-mode rather than a disconnected story-mode. Sure, if the technology forces you to play a traditional single-player game online, that doesn’t make sense but if it’s offering actual benefits to be online then you want to be part of it.”

How anyone can make this claim less than a year following the aftermath of Diablo 3′s launch is beyond me. There are a number of issues surrounding a move to “Online Single-Player,” including the need for a persistent Internet connection and elimination of the choice of a solo experience, but it all begins with the overarching direction such a move would entail.

Yerli’s application of the word “social” makes me cringe. It calls upon ideas popularized via Facebook scams games — psychological devices used to trick us into playing longer, paying more, and attempting to propagate the entire pyramid scheme ourselves. When I’m playing a game and a pop-up flashes onscreen, informing me that someone on my Friends List has earned an achievement, I don’t experience the benign envy the developers intended to invoke in me — I experience resentment at the blatant attempt at manipulation.

Worse are the features that can’t simply be ignored. There’s a distinction between “offering actual benefits” to being online and forcing players to take advantage of those benefits if they wish to play optimally. I’m all for optional features that revolve around interaction, but when the game is balanced around the assumption that you’ll make use of them — such as Diablo 3′s Auction House — that’s unacceptable. The industry has yet to show the restraint and equity necessary to walk the line without falling to the side that exploits players.

How do developers ensure that all those features see use? By requiring a persistent Internet connection, which, for singleplayer experiences, will never be seen as anything other than draconian DRM (see SimCity). Publishers can rationalize it all they want and try to convince us otherwise, but for too many of us, the sting of Diablo 3′s Error 37 launch fiasco has left scars. Blizzard tried to sell us on the idea of always-online not being so bad by telling us flat-out that virtually no one is ever without an Internet connection in this day and age — though I know a fair number of soldiers, field researchers, and people with long commutes via public transportation who would beg to differ.

But even if we accept this segment of a game’s potential player base as a negligible minority — an abhorrent practice in building a fan base, I might add — and assume that we have Internet access 100 percent of the time we want to play, we are nevertheless still at the mercy of the game’s servers. Between scheduled maintenance and unexpected downtime, we need to plan our game time to accommodate the servers — and wonder whether, in five years, those servers will still exist and we’ll be able to play the damn game at all.

The worst part of all this, however, is the implication that there’s something wrong with the singleplayer experience. Is it so difficult to believe that gamers — the archetypically antisocial beings that we are — would not occasionally want to enjoy a game by our lonesome? Why must multiplayer be thrust upon us as though in an attempt to correct our behavior and make us more social? Is it too much to ask to be allowed to appreciate a deeply personal gaming experience without the virtual presence of a stranger huffing and puffing as he urges us to progress at his blitzkrieg pace? Sometimes, we want to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, we just want to screw around and not play optimally. When we’re looking to unwind, the last thing we need is the added pressure of a voyeur scrutinizing our every action.

Sorry, Mr. Yerli. The notion of a singleplayer experience will not go away, nor should it. Regardless of what incentives are included to make gamers want to expand their singleplayer experience, the freedom to unplug and enjoy our games with and without whomever we choose to should be our choice, not the industry’s.

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25 Comments on Crytek Wants Singleplayer to Disappear — We Don’t

folklore

On March 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Some one save that man from his idiocy. I don’t think that’s possible as not even the brainless undead are not that stupid.

gasmaskangel

On March 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Do you discuss the movie you’re watching in the theater while it’s still playing? Only if you’re a horrible, horrible person and frankly I do not wish to know you. Do you find it helps your comprehension of a book if some imbecile is jabbering on about how high he is or if a pop up appears telling you that your brother just finished the third chapter?

If games are art then multiplayer and the various bits of social detritus publishers seem hell bent on cramming down our throats are the equivalent of a party where no one is paying attention to the music, because they just want to socialize. And there is nothing wrong with that. We call it multiplayer and it’s been around for years, however sometimes, to continue with this metaphor, I just want to sit alone and listen to some good music without being surround by drunk people I don’t particularly like.

Do I have to tie this to a bricks, and start hurling it through windows? I don’t want to post anything to facebook or twitter. I don’t want to see anything about anyone else’s game on facebook or twitter. I don’t care what the benefits of “always online” are, I want to play the stupid game that I paid sixty damn dollars for in peace, that means without being bothered by chattering goons or being dependent on the developer’s servers.

Sorry for the rant, I just needed to get that out of my system.

JawaEsteban

On March 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

I’m printing this out and putting it on the wall. Outstanding. Sure, there’s times when I enjoy a solid online deathmatch. There’s also times when I want to immerse myself in an RPG or survival/horror title and be left the hell alone, and I am so bloody tired of these company men trying to tell me that there’s something wrong with that. The gamer culture, especially the PC variety, was built on single player. G4 just ran another of their ’100 greatest video games of all time’ lists, and, while like most people I have some issues with the list placement of my personal favorites, one thing stands out for the whole list. Not even a dozen of the games selected are widely known for their mulitplayer content. The majority don’t have a multiplayer capability at all.

GazH

On March 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm

So he wants to make an MMO then? If you look at recent MMO’s they’re pretty much single player games online anyway, from Star Wars: The Old Republic to The Secret World. Hell, for a multiplayer game, The Secret World has a LOT of solo instances, the same can be said for The Old Republic, which even dispenses with additional players and gives you NPC companions to help you along.

If that’s the future of gaming, I’m outta here!

sep

On March 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

Unfortunately, recently I’ve losing a lot of interest in my most favourite hobby. Microtransactions, moronic statements like this etc. just make me want to shut down my pc and spend more time with my books.

I’ll be playing skyrim until Witcher launches. Then I’ll be playing Witcher until Cyberpunk launches.

Fukk why did they have to make Elder Scrolls into an MMO.
/MASSIVE LOUD facepalm

Gintoki

On March 6, 2013 at 12:46 am

yeah you dont

TheDog

On March 6, 2013 at 2:05 am

Someone needs to take that little b….. down some dark alley and teach him some single player lessons, and don’t let him leave till he learns them by heart (his own preferably, handed to him on a sharp wooden stake. Blasted Vampires). All I can say is I wont be buying another Crytek game again. I swear I can see the EA influence just shining away.
I think I read some where that he bought his diploma at Walmart. It was in the 50% off bin.

Neil Squibb

On March 6, 2013 at 3:40 am

Pretentious rubbish from someone embarrassed by the nature of his own industry. Yerli is insecure because videogames is still seen by a lot of people as some sort of weird hobby only enjoyed by children and loners. His solution? FORCE people to interact in every game ever made. He’s a buffoon. The solution is to attempt to educate and, if that fails, ignore those who refuse to understand what gaming is about. Crytek is showing symptoms of the ‘sports entertainment syndrome’ – in the same way as multiple mainstream wrestling promotions have done their best to distance themselves from what they consider to be typical (i.e. successful) wrestling assets because they don’t like how they’re perceived by people who don’t watch wrestling, Yerli and several other developers (e.g. David Cage) are obsessed with this idea that games should be more ‘adult,’ failing to realise just how immature their rhetoric and behaviour truly is in demanding this purely superficial shift in spite of how it will or won’t benefit the consumer. This seems like a good place to quote CS Lewis on the fallacy of ‘adult’ medium.

“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

Tiagonal, chamán de la lluvia

On March 6, 2013 at 4:38 am

So blindfolded all of you! He’s softening the terrain for G-Face.

Hans Cummings

On March 6, 2013 at 4:47 am

The day companies stop making single-player games is the day I stop buying video games. It’s as simple as that. I play game to escape, not to socialize with a bunch of rude people hiding behind Internet anonymity. I fail to see the value in a persistent online connection in order to play a game alone. I don’t need it. I don’t want it.

Brad

On March 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

Why is it that game developers seem to be more and more focused on removing choice from games rather than giving more choice?

bob

On March 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

e’s just angry cause his game sucked balls

goose2989

On March 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hans summed up my views perfectly. I play games to relax and escape from the world, not deal with foul-mouthed teens screaming into their mics.

Jay

On March 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s your own fault that your studio can’t write a strong narative and A.I. into there enemies. Also, no, I want to be able to play by myself without other people ruining the experience. Like they always do, talking through dialogue, speed running content, and whatever else 13-year-old ADHD kids do nowdays. One of the reasons I don’t log onto XBL anymore.

LTenhet

On March 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Unfortunately this is just an extention of the “No Multiplayer, No Buy” mentality that was prevalent a few years back, certain devs just haven’t gotten the memo that this is not the case anymore. Multiplayer is all well and good, but it does not make up for the fact that many people play games because they want a good, well-thought out story that they can invest themselves in temporarily. You get mulitplayer, and the only story you get is what your Mom did last night. Gamers need to start switching their stance to “No Singleplayer, No Buy” so maybe some of these devs/publishers will get it in their heads to quit trying to mess things up.

clem

On March 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I enjoy single player more because I can immerse myself in the game better this way.If I want multiplayer,I’ll play my mmorpg’s online.I don’t need to be social in game all the time.Frankly it gets annoying.

Michael

On March 6, 2013 at 10:09 pm

NO,NO,NO,NO.
Any company that follows this trend of single player online will fail. Ubisoft is trying to do that with Assassins Creed 4 and to tell you the truth I’m not buying it and I’m willing to bet many others as well. I’m tired of these companies thinking they can control what I paid for.

Here’s a better business proposal.

For games that have single player and multiplayer.
Sell the single player game experience under 40 dollars and if I feel like paying for the B.S. broken online multiplayer let me pay for it as a online purchase. Everyone wins here.

Brad

On March 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm

@Michael: Good suggestion, keeping the price down for singleplayer, and having the online effectively be DLC. It keeps things simple and optional. My only concern there is that inevitably, a developer is going to wind up making a few singleplayer DLCs requiring the purchase and activation of the online component.

The thing is, people, that these companies have gotten it into their heads that their way is the only way, and that you’ll just have to accept it. The truth is, and I have spent months (probably about 2 years) in a state of denial over this very thing, that we’re going to have to start supporting more and more indie developers to get them to a point where they can compete well with the big developers. Competition is the only real way to get the games industry straightened out. As I have said, I have been in a state of denial over this for some time now, and I even held out hope for a bit that some of our old favorite development companies could be salvaged, but at this point it doesn’t really look like it. At some point, I see many of the bigger developers eventually becoming nothing more than glorified casual game developers regardless of whatever else happens. Now would be the time to be more supportive of indie developers.

That’s my opinion anyway. Take it however you want.

Goner

On March 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

I’ m more use to a good old solo gaming, but if i could switch at will, between him or some, LAN – like online party with some-buddy, just for slaying some mighty dragon or whatever, without the commercial, social stuff ….well why not.
But maybe i do not have get something, up there.

Krishna

On March 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

I play games for the story like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Half Life. I enjoy the story and connect with characters. I do not want to play with students, or kids who has all the time and money in the world to make them experts in multiplayer. Not everybody plays for competition. Sometimes, When you play the game, you want to be focal point of story playing as one of characters and be immersed in it. I do not think Online Connect BS can give you that nor it can make the story interesting because of its very fragile nature w.r.t story.

Freedonad

On March 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

*Long rant detected, proceed at the risk of your own boredom*

This kind of doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I do get what they’re saying, what I don’t get is why THEY are saying it. Wasn’t all games made by crytek so far essentially single-player? FC3 and Crysis 3 being the major exception, and even then the SP portion of those games were well worked on?

This make it feel like the SP portion was “crammed” into a MP game all along, because someone demanded it (it’s usually the other way around). If they despise SP so much, then why the bloody hell do it in the first place?

They could’ve made Far Cry 3 a open-world multiplayer game. They could’ve done Crysis 3 essentially a MP focused experience ala COD (it sure advertised the ever loving crap out of it, going so far as to release the beta MP before anything else). If fact I believe EA would be creaming their pants were this the case. I sure as hells wouldn’t mind, not that I give any flying f**k about Crysis or EA games to begin with. But at least I can respect a game that knows what it is, done by a company that knows what it wants. But then again we all know what they reeeeeally want…

Kevin

On March 11, 2013 at 5:55 am

Well Crytek has partnerships with EA. Nuff said.

From their standpoint, it makes sense. Games which aren’t single player tend to be a lot more linear, i.e. easier to develop. You can throw some graphical polish on it and most people mistake that for a good game nowadays.

psycros

On March 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: from this point on, most of the top 10 PC games will come from indie devs on Kickstarter. Some of them will be names we know well, the original gangstas of the PC game industry who never left the business – rather, it left *them*, and now its leaving us as well. Projects like Star Citizen, Wasteland 2, Planetary Annihilation, whatever Garriot’s new game is going to be called..this is where the hope lies now.

Marc de Hugar

On May 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Crapolla!! Single player is my World… Not a fan of Multiplayer and I own a PS3, XBox, PC i7 16GIG, Dreamcast, Gamecube and a Vita I do love some aspects of online… but my fondest memories lay in hours of unearthing FF7 and Dino Crisis, Resident Evil Series, Silent Hill.. those worlds were brilliant and online may have killed the idea of maxing out your ultimate weapon or getting a finished RE game in 2.5 Hours

Sideras

On May 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

He works for EA, he’s a puppet that says whatever they believe furthers their agenda. Death to EA and all their filthy developers.