In 2020, we are so past the point when the ‘multiplayer’ feature was just a small addition to most games to make them a little bit more long-lived. With Esports, co-op, free-to-play, game-as-a-service and many more, I think we are at the moment that the distinction between single and multi is deeper than ever. Surprisingly, even though it is a well known fact that multiplayer games are more popular (and are, indeed, more profitable) while searching up the web for an article arguing multiplayer's superiority I could find just a few. The majority of them (like this, this, this and this) strive to prove that a single-player is the cornerstone of gaming. So Let’s have a look at aspects that divide players and decide on their preference to choose one or the other much more frequently.
Immersion: While modern multiplayer games like League of Legends, DOTA2 and MMORPG games like World of Warcraft or RunEscape all have pretty sophisticated worlds, characters, locations ,and lore, I do not think it is possible to argue that they are more immersive than the best single-player games like Half-Life 2 or The Last of Us. As a gamer I must agree, a single player game design allows the creators to go much deeper into the story and manipulate the player’s emotions as compared to multiplayer games. This is extremely well represented by single games for VR (tech aspect of the immersion) and recently the trend of games that are completely focused on the story like Firewatch or the Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In those games gameplay is mostly stripped just to walking and exploring small aspects of the story (as opposed to jumping, shooting, etc.), however, still you can see how much players and reviewers love those games.
Interaction: In this aspect single-player games have developed a great deal. From scripted scenarios and predictable fights, we went to advanced AI enemies and different, unpredictable reactions from NPCs in games like Red Dead Redemption 2. Still, how can that be compared to raiding and defeating a boss that your guild has been preparing to tackle for a month. And you succeed, with your genius strategy and thanks to impeccable delivery! The amount of social, player-to-player interactions in MMOs is countless and very rewarding, so if you are an extrovert who thrives at teamwork and cooperation then those games surely are for you.
Difficulty: Even though some single games like Dark Souls made high difficulty their trademark. Single-player games are usually very easy to understand, play, and complete. With all the tutorials, HUD/UI elements like maps, directions, pop-us reminding the player how to do everything it is really not easy to get lost in those games. Compared to EVE-Online for example, where a player has to understand hyper-complex mechanics of the game, politics of every server, the economics of the current patch, and an enormous amount of players whose only mission is to destroy you, Dark Souls is a walk in the park. Whether this is a good thing or not, it is only up to the players to decide.
Repeatability: Achievements, extra difficulty levels after you complete the game, and speed-running have all contributed greatly to single-player games’ repeatability. From the other side, we have leveling, grinding, and farming of MMORPG’s and all the 20 – 40 minutes repeated sessions in competitive games like League or CS. To become even moderately ‘good’ or ‘not noob’ at DOTA2 I think you need at least 300 hours of the game which probably would mean around 600 matches of which most would be very similar (same genre, same mechanics, etc.). We clearly can see that multi has much more repeatability. Again, this is an aspect that I leave for you, the gamers, to assess. Whether you like the change or not, you will probably choose either single or multi.
As you can see, some aspects of gaming are strongly in favor of one side and some of the opposite. Some of them also can be both advantage and disadvantage depending on what you prefer. Personally, I think I have been more of a multiplayer dude, but just slightly, probably a 40 / 60 split. Sill can't pick one side! But both worlds of single and multiplayer gaming can co-exist. The fact remains though, that multi has its moment in the history and most popular games are usually in this mode. For that reason, we are really excited at 8Bit to be working with the best co-developer in the world, who is responsible for multiplayer modes of some of the most played games currently. Check out the jobs section for new roles to work on multiplayer games...or single :)