Single-player video game

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 multi-player modes.[1]

Most 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]


The earliest video games, such as Tennis for Two (1958), Spacewar! (1962), and 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)[3] and Space Invaders (1978).

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).[4]

Although most 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 president Frank Gibeau stating in 2012 that he had not approved one game to be developed as a single-player experience.[5]

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".[6] 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.[7][8][9][10] 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".[11] Bethesda in December 7, 2017, decided to collaborate with Lynda Carter to launch a Public Safety Announcement to save single-player gaming.[12]

Game elements

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.[13]


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 compelling story.[14]


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), such as Dragon Quest and the Final Fantasy series, which are primarily character-nagato.


These game elements are not firm, fixed rules; single-player puzzle games such as Tetris or racing games focus squarely on gameplay.

See also


  1. ^ 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 of Technology. p. 180. ISBN 9789059730366.
  2. ^ "Unreal Tournament 3 Single-player Campaign Preview." Unreal Tournament 3 Single-player Campaign Pr. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
  3. ^ "Speed Race." (Game). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
  4. ^ Koster, Raph (10 Feb 2006). "Are single-player games doomed?". Archived from the original on 8 Feb 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  5. ^ "Is single-player gaming under-threat?". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. 28 Oct 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  6. ^ Wales, Matt (October 17, 2017). "EA has shut down Visceral Games". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Sarkar, Samit (October 18, 2017). "EA's Star Wars 'pivot' is a vote of no confidence in single-player games". Polygon. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Staff (October 19, 2017). "Does Visceral's closure prove AAA single-player games are dying?". Gamasutra. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  9. ^ Klepek, Patrick (October 17, 2017). "Today's Star Wars News Makes the Future of Single-Player Look Very Messy". Vice. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  10. ^ McCarthy, Caty (October 19, 2017). "The Rise and Fall of Visceral Games". US Gamer. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  11. ^ Purchase, Robert (October 23, 2017). ""I've seen people literally spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards"". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  12. ^ Chalk, Andy (December 7, 2017). ""Bethesda kicks off a 'Save Player 1' sale for its single-player games"". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  13. ^ "ThomasDaPsycho." : Video Game Story Elements. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
  14. ^ "Tales of the Rampant Coyote: What Makes a Great RPG - Mechanics." Tales of the Rampant Coyote. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.


8-Bit Rebellion!

8-Bit Rebellion! is a massively multiplayer online, and single player, video game released and based on the American rock band, Linkin Park for iOS.

Andromeda Conquest

Andromeda Conquest is a 1982 strategy game for the personal computer. It is notable for its influence on the 4X game genre.

B-17 Bomber (video game)

B-17 Bomber is a single-player video game released by Mattel for their Intellivision console in 1982. The game was bundled with the Intellivoice voice synthesis module, which is used to alert the player to off-screen enemy activity.

Battleloot Adventure

Battleloot Adventure is a fantasy-themed tactical role-playing single-player video game for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, published in March 2012 by the Italian developer Digital Tales.

The player controls a party of three adventurers in turn-based battles against small groups of opponents. Battles are selected from an overhead map. As there is no manoeuvering, tactics are limited to selecting which opponent to attack with which character; players can also conduct combo attacks or use items. The cartoonish characters and enemies, which include zombie sheep, are assigned one of four classes, whose capabilities relate to each other according to a rock-paper-scissors mechanic: sages (green) beat rogues (red), who beat warriors (blue), who beat mages (purple), who in turn beat sages. Successful battles are rewarded with gold, which is used to buy equipment or skills for the characters; gold can also be purchased for real money.

By the end of March 2012, the game held a Metacritic score of 79 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable" reviews. Touch Arcade appreciated the complex but not overwhelming tactical system and well-implemented in-app purchases, while 148Apps praised it as "cheap, addictive, nice to look at, and quite a bit of fun". Gamezebo criticized the generic setting, lack of story, uneven difficulty and number of bugs.

Buzz Bombers

Buzz Bombers is a single-player video game developed by Mattel Electronics for its Intellivision system and released in 1982. Mattel's reaction to Atari's popular Centipede, the player controls a can of bug spray trying to ward off swarms of bees.

Kinect Sesame Street TV

Kinect Sesame Street TV is a Sesame Street video game of an interactive television program for the Microsoft Windows & Xbox 360 consoles. It is based on the children's television series of the same name and is aimed at children. Because of its motion gesture features, the game requires the Xbox 360's Kinect sensor to get into action. It is developed by Microsoft Studios' Soho Productions & published by Microsoft Studios. This interactive television program was released on 18 September 2012.

Laser Blast

Laser Blast is a single-player video game developed and published by Activision in March 1981 for the Atari VCS console (renamed to Atari 2600 in 1982). Designed by David Crane, one of Activision's co-founders, Laser Blast places players in control of flying saucers attacking land targets.

Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy is a space Western-styled space trading and combat simulation Single-player video game developed and published by two-person studio Double Damage Games. It was released on Steam and for Microsoft Windows and OS X on October 20, 2015. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions were released in January 2016.

Sniper Fury

Sniper Fury is an online single player video game developed and published by Gameloft.The action of Sniper Fury takes place in the near future. Technological development and geopolitical changes rendered former methods of resolving conflicts obsolete. Countries, corporations, and organizations employ services of highly trained professionals, who can eliminate specific targets with surgical precision.

Star Strike

Star Strike is a single-player video game, released by Mattel for its Intellivision video game system in 1982. The Intellivision's best-selling game in 1982, with over 800,000 copies sold, Star Strike was inspired by the famous "trench run" sequence in the 1977 film Star Wars, as the player must drop bombs on alien weapons silos before Earth moves into range.

Super Battletank

Garry Kitchen's Super Battletank: War in the Gulf is a 1992 tank simulation single-player video game which takes place during Operation Desert Storm. The player controls an M1 Abrams main battle tank for the United Nations. A sequel, Super Battletank 2, was released for the Super NES in 1994.

Tax Avoiders

Tax Avoiders is a single-player video game for the Atari 2600 released in 1982. It was conceived by Darrell Wagner at Dunhill Electronics; he was billed on the packaging as a "Licensed Tax Consultant and former IRS Revenue Agent". The game was developed by Todd Clark Holm, "an independant (sic) investment advisor, registered with the S.E.C.". Game designed by John Simonds and published by American Videogame.

Tesserae (video game)

Tesserae is a single-player video game developed by Nicholas Schlott based on Kent Brewster's DOS game Stained Glass and published by Inline Design in 1990 for the Macintosh. The game was also released for the Game Boy and Game Gear handhelds published by GameTek, developed by Eurocom.

The Occupation

The Occupation is an upcoming single-player video game developed by White Paper Games and scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on 5 March 2019.

The game takes place in a single government building, in real-time over four hours, the game advances without input from the player, but almost all in-game actions can affect the game's story.The game is set in late 1987 within the same universe as White Paper Games' first title Ether One.

TurnOn (video game)

TurnOn is a single player video game developed by Brainy Studio LLC. 1st demo episode was launched on Windows Phone, Xbox One (as a member of ID@Xbox) and Steam (got Greenlit April 17, 2015) will get a full version of the game on June 1, 2016. The main character is an alien electrical spark named Turnon, which should to return the electricity to the unexpectedly de-energized city. The game has a distinctive visual style and graphics, as well as the original story, became the second big project of Brainy Studio after WitchCraft, creating on Unity3D. In 2014 a prototype of TurnOn became the winner in the "Games" category in the world's largest technology competition, Imagine Cup 2014, held under the auspices Microsoft, and also became a participant of the biggest in the world support program for mobile apps and games developers, AppCampus.The first of five announced episodes was launched at the beginning of 2015, later developers started Steam Greenlight campaign.

X-Men (1993 video game)

X-Men is a home console video game produced by Sega for Mega Drive/Genesis in 1993, based on the adventures of the Marvel Comics superhero team, the X-Men. One or two players can play as any of four pre-chosen X-Men. X-Men was released in 1993 was followed up by X-Men 2: Clone Wars.

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