Earlier this week, PC Gaming Editor Jeff Grubb wrote about a chart
that gives great context for why game publishers and studios are focusing so much on live-service games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Rainbow Six: Siege.
Because people play them for days, weeks, and months at a time.
Of course, this is no surprise. These games continue to engage people, and they’re designed so that people come back, day after day. I look at my own habits: Right now, the games I spend the most time with each day are Magic: The Gathering — Arena
, two live-service card games.
The third? Why, it’s Civilization VI, a single-player game
. And some days, I play far more Civ than I do anything else. And I don’t just play Civ when new content arrives, though we are on the heels of the Gathering Storm expansion’s February 14 release. I play for stretches that last weeks, sometimes because a modder has posted a cool mod to the Steam Workshop, and other times because I just want a deep, turn-based game to dig into again.
I find myself doing this with a bunch of old role-playing games as well: Every year, I lose several weeks to Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Neverwinter Nights 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or Two Worlds II. I spent most of December and January with Final Fantasy XV, a game from 2016 that captured my heart once more.
The concern many face is that single-player games from major studios will disappear as big publishers (and their investors) chase the live-services model, where folks come and pay for cosmetic items, battle passes, and other regular purchases over the $60-per-game model (that may also come with a few $10-to-$20 purchases of DLC and expansions).
But I don’t think this situation is so dire. A number of big companies are committed to single-player games. Folks like Bethesda and CD Projekt Red aren’t going to stop making story-based games. Neither are the smaller “Double A” studios like Obsidian or Ninja Theory that now belong to Microsoft.
My question: When will more of these companies realize that opening their platforms to modding, as Bethesda and Paradox have done, is one way to keep players engaged with single-player games?
—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor