Here’s What The ‘2017 Game Awards’ Tell Us About The Death Of Single-Player

Geoff Keighley, the man behind the annual Game Awards which are back for the fourth year in a row this Thursday, doesn’t think single-player games are dead. Not by a long shot.

Credit: The Game Awards

Geoff Keighley says the death of single-player games is greatly exaggerated.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the death of the single-player game,” Keighley tells me. “But when you look at our nominees [for GOTY] four of them are really impressive single-player only games.”

The four games he’s referring to are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5.

“I think that is proof-positive that the single-player game isn’t going anywhere,” Keighley adds. “Nintendo had an incredible year. Two of the best Zelda and Mario games of all time came out this year, which I think is incredible.”

Indeed, the only game up for Game of the Year that isn’t single-player is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG for short. Keighley calls that a “controversial” nominee, but with over 20 million copies sold the game has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right.

2017 was “an interesting year,” Keighley reflects, “with a lot of strong single-player games, the release of the Nintendo Switch, and then something like PUBG which just came out of nowhere. If you would have asked me last year what I thought would be nominated I probably would have Zelda. I probably would have said Mario. But I wouldn’t have said PUBG because PUBG wasn’t even on the radar yet.”

It certainly has been an interesting year, and frankly each of the games nominated for Game of the Year deserves serious consideration. My money is on Zelda: Breath of the Wild but PUBG certainly took the world by storm and, like BotW, will impact the way games are designed for years to come, very likely breathing life into an entirely new genre.

It’s also hard to disagree with Keighley on the “hysteria” surrounding the supposed death of single-player. 2017 saw many excellent single-player games released, including games not up for GOTY like Nioh and Nier: Automata as well as many others.

Credit: Nintendo

Zelda Breath Of The Wild is a favorite for Game of the Year.

Still, the push toward “games as service” is strong, and I do think that the next few years will be a time when more publishers and developers attempt to find new and innovative ways to keep the revenue streams flowing post-launch, something that even single-player only games like Shadow of War have attempted with loot boxes.

Meanwhile, the cancellation of several big single-player games (Visceral’s Star Wars title, the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound, etc.) leave many understandably worried. And the lack of any single-player DLC in GTA V, in favor of endless new GTA Online content, has some questioning the future of a series like Red Dead Redemption. 

The Game Awards will stream live Thursday evening on myriad streaming services. Stay tuned for more coverage, predictions and analysis here at Forbes Games.

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