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Single-player games "gone in 3 years"

Predicts veteran designer Mark Cerny.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

The traditional single-player only game experience will not exist by the end of 2014.

That's the prediction of veteran video game consultant Mark Cerny, who has worked with Sony on games such as Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, Spyro and Ratchet & Clank.

"I believe the traditional single-player game experience will be gone in three years," Cerny told an audience at a behind-closed door, Sony-organised panel discussion on the future of video games, attended by Eurogamer, this evening.

"Right now you sit in your living room and you're playing a game by yourself – we call it the sp mission or the single-player campaign. In a world with Facebook I just don't think that's going to last."

Cerny pointed to 2009 action RPG Demon's Souls as an example of the single-player campaign of the future.

"We're already seeing the wall starting to crumble a bit," he said. "Demon's Souls, even though on one level it's a single-player game, as you're walking through the world you're seeing the ghosts of everybody who died in that world via the internet. You can leave messages for them. They can leave messages for you. There's actually a boss you fight in that game which is controlled by another player.

"We're talking five, 10 years out. I believe three years from now, if you aren't doing that, you are being criticised in your reviews for your lack of innovation."

This shift from single-player only experiences to connected single-player experiences presents a unique problem to game developers, Cerny said.

"The funny thing here is, we don't even know what to call this. Is it single-player or is it multiplayer? We don't even have the words. It's kind of Orwellian. If you don't have any word for freedom you can't have a revolution. How can you be talking about design when we don't have the words to describe it? Yet, that will be the standard, I believe, in 2014."

Sitting alongside Cerny on the panel was Sony president of Worldwide Studio, Shuhei Yoshida, who said that in the future, all games will have social elements because hardware will be connected.

"I believe almost every electronics device will be connected," he said. "It's going to be very natural to have the social connectivity behind your game. So, whether or not it's a real-time, synchronous, head-to-head game or traditional single-player game, you could be connected to the world."

"A game without the presence of other players in it – you go out three or five years, I believe that is unthinkable given how connected we're becoming," Cerny concluded.

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