Certain Devs Whine That Twitch And YouTube Are Killing Single-Player Games
Wolfenstein 2 Controversy

IGN’s Alanah Pearce talked to some of the gaming clique’s more logorrhea-driven “Progressives” about single-player games and how Let’s Plays and live-streams are killing them.

In a short three minute video, which spawned hundreds of comments, Pearce talks about the topic of the dying single-player genre after having spoken to a few developers at this past year’s PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts. The video was published on April 20th, 2018.

Pearce quotes anti-#GamerGate busybody, Rami Ismail from Vlambeer. He told her at PAX East…

“One of the most under-discussed effects of Twitch and YouTube is that no major first parties trying to sell consoles or a studio with a reputation with making single-player games really has a reason to bother with single-player campaigns.”

The rest of the video’s gist centers around the concept that multiplayer-only games are cheaper to make, can be infinitely updated, and have much higher player retention levels than single-player titles.

Essentially, the argument from publishers is that multiplayer games are cheap to make with high returns, and that with services like Twitch and YouTube, if you make a single-player game it won’t sell as well as a multiplayer game because once the campaign is completed there’s no reason to stream it again, and no reason for consumers to buy it, despite the fact that multiplayer games are just as likely to fail as single-player games, as evident with Battleborn, Lawbreakers and Evolve.

The examples used in the piece were Prey, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Dishonored 2.

Wolfenstein 2 - Grace

Let’s Cut Through The Bullcrap

First of all, Rami Ismail is about as much an authority on video game trends as Donald Trump is on marriage fidelity. They’ve had a couple of sleeper hits, with games like Luftrausers racking up close to 400,000 units over the course of four years, according to Steam Spy, but they don’t even make notable single-player, narrative-driven games. So what authority does Ismail have on the subject matter?

Next up, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus didn’t sell for the one reason every single gamer keeps talking about: the politics!

Go into the Steam forum right now and – if the mods haven’t deleted the threads – you’ll still see that most of the conversation is completely centered around politics, much of it with arguments over Nazism versus Communism.

For people who weren’t interested in MachineGames’ agitprop, they found that Wolfenstein II just didn’t have much to offer them gameplay wise. It was short, linear and limited. The game sold extremely poorly, in fact it actually did worse than Vlambeer’s Luftrausers. That wasn’t a failing on the part of single-player games, it was a failing on the part of Bethesda banking on anti-Trump propaganda to sell a poorly written game.

Prey just wasn’t a very interesting game. It was a retread of games we’ve already played in the last 20 years with absolutely nothing interesting added to the gameplay. In fact, if you liked BioShock or System Shock, go back and play those games… it’ll be a lot better than Prey. That’s not to mention that most people wanted either a follow-up to the original 2006 Prey or the innovative portal-hopping game that Human Head Studios pitched. What gamers were not interested in was a BioShock clone with boring environments, uninteresting enemies, and samey map layouts. Anyone who paid any attention to the actual criticisms of the game would have known that.

Prey - Ending

And speaking of BioShock… the single-player driven franchise has moved more than 25 million copies since 2007, according to Venture Beat.

Dishonored 2 fell into the same trap as Prey, essentially just being a retread of the first game but with a playable female character. While Arkane and Bethesda thought that catering toward “50% of the market” would net them big sales, the reality is that it did not because that “50%” is taking in consideration the breadth of casual gamers, and casual gamers don’t care about games like Dishonored 2. Funnily enough, according to Steam Spy, the sequel has sold nearly 60,000 more copies on PC compared to The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, where-as the original Dishonored sold more than 3.4 million copies on PC alone.

And keep in mind that Let’s Play culture was alive and well in 2012, given that’s where DayZ really gained its legs, and it helped Arma 2 move more than 300,000 copies over the course of two months So it’s not like the excuse is that Let’s Play culture wasn’t around to “hurt” the sales of a game like Dishonored, because it was definitely around, but Dishonored still sold quite well..

But as we all know, the numbers don’t lie and gamers can easily see through the fact that most newer games aren’t very good, this is why they don’t sell. Deathwish187 in the IGN comment section sums it up perfectly by writing…

“The gaming industry is just another greedy monopoly now, I’m just glad I got to live through the golden age of gaming. From here on out it will only be about sponsorship’s, viewer count/numbers, competitive games and greed. Well, it’s already been like that for the past 7 years now. Anyways, there might be a few diamonds in the rough but realistically gaming is dead and it’s been dead for awhile now. Anyone who says other wise is a simpleton thus why games are so shallow, dense and without a soul just like the consumers and viewers. […]”

Realistically it’s not that Twitch and Let’s Play culture is killing single-player games, it’s that once people can see just how terrible many of these games are they save their money and avoid giving it to companies that don’t deserve it.

Heck, A Way Out is a co-op, narrative-driven game and it sold 1 million copies in just four weeks on a modest budget. This proves that even with the expanse of live-streams and Let’s Plays, the game still found a strong audience for its content.

Of course, blaming Let’s Play culture is going to be the new go-to excuse by most studios, just like piracy and used games were the go-to excuses during the seventh generation of gaming.


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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