icon Author: SlipSlot
Are Online-Only Games Committing Suicide?

Multiplayer-only games have been around almost as long as the internet has, and we've probably all been addicted to one at some point in our lives as gamers, most likely a free-to-play RPG, MOBA or FPS.


Lately I've noticed a trend in some of the much larger AAA titles failing to keep hold of a profitable userbase.


We'll go over a few that have failed to succeed, the few who seem to have quite literally nailed it and others who have yet to prove they're made of the right stuff to be successful.



MP Only Losses

First up we have Titanfall from EA, now I personally loved this game, it was everything I wanted as a [once] Call of Duty fan to drive the first person shooter genre out of the stalemate it was in and on to bigger and better things.


It got so many things right, the fluidity of movement, the balanced scale between pilots and titans and the fast-paced mayhem that never felt like too much to take in. But, it obviously got something wrong as the constant deep sales and the eventual removal of a price tag on the season pass would suggest.


Could this be down to the lack of any meaningful campaign? Maybe.




Next we have Evolve from 2K, this game was massively hyped before launch and was said to include elements from games like Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead. A team of 4 different classes going up against a single overpowered monster


Although I didn't give the game much time myself it did seem to be pretty good, but the DLC structure pissed people off and again, there was no single player campaign to fall back on. The game rarely went on decent sales and stayed expensive for its lifetime as a paid for title.


Now the game is going free-to-play across all platforms in an attempt to stay relevant. Will it work? Time will tell.



Finally and most recently, we have Battleborn, another 2K game. Presented as a game with elements from popular MOBAs of its time and the Borderlands franchise, a game from the same developers, Gearbox.


Sadly this game launched at roughly the same time as Overwatch from Blizzard, a game with undeniable similarities. Blizzard haven't had what is considered to be a failed release since Diablo 3 and even that broke sales records and after patches is still extremely popular today. Did that hurt Battleborn's sales? It's very likely.


With micro-transactions added and the game placed in a $15 bundle mere months after release, it appears Battleborn won't survive much longer as a paid game. Again, would a true single player campaign have helped?




Now the success stories for games that have clearly done something right, excluding the obvious MOBAs and MMORPGS.




MP Only Wins

First of all Team Fortress 2 from Valve, this game is consistently one of the most played games on Steam and has been since its release. A class-based team shooter with colourful cartoon-like graphics.


Like many Valve games, Team Fortress started as a community mod for Half-Life. One unique feature is TF2's take on cosmetics and the introduction of crates and keys that many games released since have adopted.


No campaign and little game-changing updates, yet TF2's community still strives. Any volunteers to guess why that is?



Now Path of Exile from Grinding Gear Games, PoE is an online-only action RPG most comparable to games like Diablo 2 and Torchlight. The skill tree is incredibly fleshed out and allows for almost every player to have a truly unique character.


The game is solid, good fun and the paid for DLC is purely cosmetic, meaning you get a modern game as good as if not better than Diablo 2 for absolutely free.


Action RPGs usually hit a wall where most players lose interest, but PoE is able to retain them. Their ladder system is highly praised, could this be what keeps player coming back?



Lastly we have Warframe from Digital Extremes, holding similarities with games like Monster Hunter and Destiny. Warframe is a third-person sci-fi RPG.


Awaking as a strange but customisable being from cryosleep you find yourself at war with other factions in which you must fight for dominance.


Warframe has been a rather silent success but still sits high in Steam's most-played charts and does well on both PS and Xbox, could its now cult following be keeping it alive?



Finally we'll breeze over a few games that have yet to prove they can make it as successful multiplayer-only games.



Results Unknown

Star Wars: Battlefront from EA was released late 2015 but it's still unknown whether people will be playing the reboot to the series in years to come like the previous Battlefront titles. It's fun, but is it fun enough?

Overwatch from Blizzard released either intentionally or unintentionally as a competitor to 2K's Battleborn and is so far performing miles better. Blizzard aren't low in stock of die-hard fans so a fail in any sense of the word is unlikely, but will it continue to do as well as other Blizzard titles?

Gigantic from Perfect World Entertainment is yet to release at time of writing but again holds similar themes to Battleborn and Overwatch, is it too little too late or can Gigantic bring something new to the table that keeps players coming back for more?

What is everyone else's thoughts? Does a MP only game just need the right special ingredients to do well in today's industry or are games that lack single player content slowly losing what enables them to be successful?

  • PC_Arcade
    July 25, 2016
    Good article. Community. Simple answer: games like Evolve fail because they piss off their communties or try to milk their customer too obviously or too aggresively. Games like Overwatch, TF2, etc succeed because they engage with the player base and treat them with some respect! Evolve deserved to fail the way they treated their customers! Some are just unlucky, Titanfall for example, but I also believe Titanfall needed a campaign to succeed as it was a completely new IP without Star Wars (Battlefront), Blizzard (Overwatch) or Valve (TF2) to fall back on and people just won't trust EA to deliver or maintain interest / engagement on a $50 MP only game!
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