A single-player video game is a video game where input from only one
player is expected throughout the course of the gaming session. A
single-player game is usually a game that can only be played by one
person, while "single-player mode" is usually a game mode designed to
be played by a single-player, though the game also contains
The vast majority of modern console games and arcade games are
designed so that they can be played by a single-player; although many
of these games have modes that allow two or more players to play (not
necessarily simultaneously), very few actually require more than one
player for the game to be played. The
Unreal Tournament series is one
example of such.
2 Game elements
3 See also
The earliest video games, such as
Tennis for Two
Tennis for Two (1958), Spacewar!
Pong (1972), were symmetrical games designed to be played
by two players. Single-player games gained popularity only after this,
with early titles such as Speed Race (1974) and Space Invaders
The reason for this, according to Raph Koster, is down to a
combination of several factors: increasingly sophisticated computers
and interfaces that enabled asymmetric gameplay, cooperative gameplay
and story delivery within a gaming framework, coupled with the fact
that the majority of early games players had introverted personality
types (according to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator).
Although the vast majority of modern games incorporate a single-player
element either as the core or as one of several game modes,
single-player gaming is currently viewed by the video game industry as
peripheral to the future of gaming, with
Electronic Arts vice
Frank Gibeau stating that he had not approved one game to be
developed as a single-player experience.
The question of the financial viability of single-player AAA games was
raised following the closure of
Visceral Games by
Electronic Arts (EA)
in October 2017. Visceral had been a studio that established itself on
a strong narrative single-player focus with Dead Space, and had been
working on a single-player, linear narrative
Star Wars game at the
time of the closure; EA announced following this that they would be
taking the game in a different direction, specifically "a broader
experience that allows for more variety and player agency". Many
commentators felt that EA made the change as they did not have
confidence that a studio with an AAA-scale budget could produce a
viable single-player game based on the popular
Star Wars franchise.
Alongside this, as well as relatively poor sales of games in the year
prior that were principally AAA single-player games (Resident Evil 7,
Prey, Dishonored 2, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided) against financially
successful multiplayer games and those offer a games-as-a-service
model (Overwatch, Destiny 2, and
Star Wars Battlefront 2), were
indicators to many that the single-player model for AAA was
waning. Manveer Heir, who had left EA after finishing his
gameplay design work for Mass Effect Andromeda, acknowledged that the
culture within EA was against the development of single-player games,
and with Visceral's closure, "that the linear single-player triple-A
game at EA is dead for the time being". Bethesda in December 7
2017, decided to collaborate with
Lynda Carter to launch a Public
Safety Announcement to save single-player gaming. 
As the narrative and conflict in single-player gameplay is created by
a computer rather than a human opponent, single-player games are able
to deliver certain gaming experiences that are typically absent - or
de-emphasised - in multiplayer games.
Single-player games rely more heavily on compelling stories to draw
the player into the experience and to create a sense of investment.
Humans are unpredictable, so human players - allies or enemies -
cannot be relied upon to carry a narrative in a particular direction,
and so multiplayer games tend not to focus heavily on a linear
narrative. By contrast, many single-player games are built around a
Whilst a single game relies upon human-human interaction for its
conflict, and often for its sense of camaraderie, a single-player game
must build these things artificially. As such, single-player games
require deeper characterisation of their non-player characters in
order to create connections between the player and the sympathetic
characters and to develop deeper antipathy towards the game's
antagonist(s). This is typically true of role-playing games (RPGs),
Dragon Quest and the
Final Fantasy series, which are primarily
These game elements are not firm, fixed rules; single-player puzzle
games such as
Tetris or racing games focus squarely on gameplay.
Massively multiplayer online game
^ Oosterhu; Feireiss, Lukas (March 2006). The Architecture
Co-laboratory: Game Set and Match II : on Computer Games,
Advanced Geometries, and Digital Technologies. Delft: Delft University
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Unreal Tournament 3 Single-player Campaign Preview." Unreal
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^ "Speed Race." (Game). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
^ Koster, Raph (10 Feb 2006). "Are single-player games doomed?".
Archived from the original on 8 Feb 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
^ "Is single-player gaming under-threat?". Computer and Video Games.
Future plc. 28 Oct 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
^ Wales, Matt (October 17, 2017). "EA has shut down Visceral Games".
Eurogamer. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
^ Sarkar, Samit (October 18, 2017). "EA's
Star Wars 'pivot' is a vote
of no confidence in single-player games". Polygon. Retrieved October
^ Staff (October 19, 2017). "Does Visceral's closure prove AAA
single-player games are dying?". Gamasutra. Retrieved October 20,
^ Klepek, Patrick (October 17, 2017). "Today's
Star Wars News Makes
the Future of Single-Player Look Very Messy". Vice. Retrieved October
^ McCarthy, Caty (October 19, 2017). "The Rise and Fall of Visceral
Games". US Gamer. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
^ Purchase, Robert (October 23, 2017). ""I've seen people literally
spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards"". Eurogamer. Retrieved
October 23, 2017.
^ Chalk, Andy (December 7, 2017). ""Bethesda kicks off a 'Save Player
1' sale for its single-player games"". PC Gamer. Retrieved December
^ "ThomasDaPsycho." : Video Game Story Elements. N.p., n.d. Web.
18 Apr. 2013.
^ "Tales of the Rampant Coyote: What Makes a Great RPG - Mechanics."
Tales of the Rampant Coyote. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
Fullerton, Tracy (2014). Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach
to Creating Innovative Games (3 ed.). CRC Press. ISBN 1498785875.
Retrieved 30 January 2018.
Mitra, Ananda (2010). Digital Games: Computers at Play. Infobase
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Concepts of video games
Glossary of video game terms
Fog of war
Line of sight
Capture the flag
Capture the flag (CTF)