2023 has been extremely great, easily rivaling the best years of gaming. I am glad to have witnessed such a great year for the industry, and as a fan of single-player titles, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
The month of October, in particular, has been filled with incredible releases. With a release like Alan Wake 2 also surprising everyone with its quality and critical reception, I believe it is safe to say that single-player games are thriving today.
Why it matters: While the industry is more focused than ever on live service games, microtransactions, and battle passes, 2023 proves that single-player games are in a league of their own.
The Downfall of Live Service Games
While this genre is understandably enticing for publishers and developers, live service games have stagnated, with studios delving into anti-consumer practices for the sake of player retention and a steady amount of spending on microtransactions.
In the past few years, I have witnessed many live service games failing, such as Marvel’s Avengers, Knockout City, Rumbleverse, Hyper Scape, and more. Such games spend little time focusing on a fun gameplay loop, leading to resentment from the industry.
While most live service games are free-to-play, I found myself feeling overwhelmed due to a focus on battle passes, daily objectives, and microtransactions. At a certain point, it becomes a chore to play such games.
Recent releases like Overwatch 2 have also failed after Blizzard forced players to abandon the original game that many had come to love for nearly a decade. Following the boom of games as a service, Overwatch 2 was designed around this concept, and it immediately failed.
Over on Steam, the game was met with 200K negative reviews, becoming one of the worst-rated games on the platform. Overwatch 2 made me lose hope in the live service genre since it became apparent that such games are more interested in keeping players grinding and spending on microtransactions by all means necessary.
Single-Player Games Are Insanely Good
Single-player games have always been my favorites, and 2023 has solidified my love for this genre.
I have fond memories of playing older Pokemon games on the Gameboy Advance, taking in the atmosphere as I enjoyed an epic journey about personal growth and unity with my team.
This franchise sparked my love for single-player games, with others like Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Batman Arkham proving that this genre was filled with endless possibilities.
In 2023, my belief has been solidified further. Baldur’s Gate 3 pushed the boundaries of choice and freedom, Spider-Man 2 provided the ultimate superhero fantasy, and Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom pushed the tiny Nintendo Switch to its limits through groundbreaking physics.
Apart from these games, the likes of Resident Evil 4 and Hogwarts Legacy were also excellent. I find it quite ironic that EA was among the studios claiming that single-player games were dead just a few years ago, but the publisher delivered Dead Space and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, two of the best-rated games of 2023.
This shift from EA alone proves the value of single-player games. Looking at the ratings, most of 2023’s best games also lie in the single-player genre, with only a few online-focused titles like Street Fighter 6 achieving a score above 90/100 on Metacritic.
Single-Player Games Leading The GOTY Race
The Game Awards 2023 is right around the corner. I think it is quite clear that games like Baldur’s Gate 3, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Starfield, and Spider-Man 2 will be at the forefront of the race for Game of the Year.
One common theme across all of these releases is the fact that they are single-player games. Such titles have provided immersive experiences to millions of gamers in 2023, allowing them to find solace in exciting and unfamiliar worlds.
While others like Diablo 4 have also shown a lot of promise, the focus on live service and seasonal content has held such games back from their true potential.
Nonetheless, single-player games are better than ever in 2023. While the live-service genre has its own benefits, the industry should accept that not everything needs to come bloated with a model that incentivizes player spending above everything else.
If there is any doubt about the viability of such games, publishers should look no further than 2023 since the year has more than enough proof that single-player games are still holding their own against the most polished live service releases.
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Obaid is pursuing a Law degree, while working as a content writer. He has worked as a gaming writer for over a year because of his passion for the medium and reporting the latest updates in the industry. Having played hundreds of games, Obaid finds himself coming back to Elden Ring and Red Dead Redemption 2, with these games being among his favorites. He has also been mentioned on highly regarded websites, such as Wccftech, Metro UK, PS Lifestyle, GamePressure, VGC, and Gamespot.