How MMOs are Killing the Single Player RPG

Single player RPGs are few and far in between these days. Even those RPGs that do come out, most now have online game play, which it seems is where gamers want to be. So what’s an RPG do? Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done. The online revolution is in full swing and has been for some time. Gamers not only want an immersive storyline, but they want to be able to interact with real people while playing and single player RPGs just can’t deliver.

Since Microsoft launched Xbox Live on its console, casual non PC gamers have had the opportunity for the first time to game online with friends and more importantly strangers. With its success Sony has followed with online play and even Nintendo is joining in.

Not only does it seem that gamers want real interaction, but there really isn’t much incentive for studios to make a single player RPG. RPG’s are massive undertakings to create, requiring years of work by huge teams, unlike FPS where you can just pump out a sequel ever year. No, RPGs need characters with voices, thousands of quests, a crafting system, training systems, as well has dozens of cities and towns that all must seem to be alive. With all the work to create an RPG, why NOT make it a MMORPG, where you can generate a stream of revenue for years to come? There are still some very succesful single player RPGs out there, but I wonder how long will it be before they too cross over to become MMORPGs.


  1. The irony is I’ve found I logged into massive multiplayer online worlds and wanted nothing to do with anyone else.

    I love the size of them and the fact that they’re ever evolving, (when I play single player games on the other hand, I always have that sense of the impending ending coming soon), yet I play them like I would a single player in most cases – alone.

    I sincerely hope the popularity of online gaming doesn’t ruin the single player offline game market.

    End in sight or not, while playing one, there’s nothing quite like a really good start to finish story you get to adventure through.

    Nice write up – /dugg

  2. One of the other thigngs i noticed, even the true single player RPG’s are incorperation things from MMO’s. Look at Oblivion, it was single player, but it had a MMO world practically.

    As much as i love MMO’s, i still enjoy the “action RPG” sub genre, like diablo. I still play Titan’s Quest quite a bit when i get bored with WoW (which is quite frequently lately).

  3. in some country like mine (indonesia) where the internet connection still expensive and slow, single player RPG,i think, still have great popularity.

  4. Well, Malaysia has a slow connection too and LAN games are extremely popular over here like DoTa, Starcraft, etc etc etc.

    Nice post btw =)

  5. Pff i am a player of lineage 2 and 90% of the people i know on the server just play to interact with other ppl, share items, level up together, etc….

    I dont see any relation of this games with the Solo play rpgs, those 2 are like water and oil. Also, most MMO around offer 0 good quest system, lineage quest system is like do work (also is work because you have to do it if you want lets say S grade jewelry, armor or weapons grade S, you got no other option). WOW is more micromanage of items than anything.

    Others are just like Action games, just hack and slash, nothing more.

  6. I think MMOs will start to more and more incorporate single player elements into them so in essence you’ll need to get into an online world if you want to fully enjoy the game.

    I play Guild Wars and tho I am part of a guild, I rely on the henchmen and heroes more and more since my guild mates and I play at differing times and for differing periods of time. I like the game since both the single player and multi-player elements are there if and when you wish to take part in them. The game is big enough for me to enjoy but small enough that I can take small bites out of it when I am up for a gaming session.

  7. Qix — “…even the true single player RPG’s are incorperation things from MMO’s. Look at Oblivion, it was single player, but it had a MMO world practically.”

    This isn’t a good example. The Elder Scrolls games have been around for much longer than online games (if we date the onset of online games from Ultima Online or Everquest 1).

    If anything, online games took inpiration from the Elder Scrolls series, not the other way around.

  8. I do only want an immersive storyline (30 h. and more with exp pack), but I do not want to be able to interact with real people while playing and single player RPGs just deliver that. For me BGII, Oblivion are still the greatest with most fun and re-playebility. For me it does not make any sense to compare online and single player. They serve for different purposes.

  9. Just my opinion:

    MMORPG’s are in general grossly inferior to single player RPG’s in some of the most central characteristics of the genre. This is true particularly in their ability to tell a developed story.

    MMORPG’s are being jammed down our throats for one reason only: That $12 or so per month. Play Oblivion for ever and it never costs you more than the purchase price. People regularly spend hundreds playing World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 11.

    Oh well. We get crap from Detroit, crap from Hollywood… why shouldn’t we expect crap in the gaming world.

  10. The advantage of all those other people wears thin when you realize that they are not realistic inhabitants of some fantasy or science fictional world, they are a bunch of other nerds sitting at their computers looking to have a similar experience to you. At best. At worst, it’s 14-year-old griefers or gold farmers or the like.

    MMOs have to fall back on the same techniques as single player RPGs when filling roles that no human would want to play long term.

  11. A good example would be Hellgate London. Can’t comment on it as a MMORPG (spent some time over on their boards and that was enough to put me off the mmo bit). As a singleplayer game it’s a joke. The plot’s an afterthought, the NPCs are sign posts to the next quest that’s the same as the one you just finished, and only real point is to pimp your character… Also a good example of it all being about the subscription – if you play online you get bonus content and patches (even more if you subscribe), if you play offline you don’t get a thing (not even patches).

    I like an immersive world – the Elder Scrolls franchise really does that well, but the big thing for me is a decent story. I’ve yet to find something online that’s in the same league as Baldur’s Gate 2 or the Witcher.

    Also, what about NPCs? I’ve not played many MMOs, but I’ve yet to see anything with characters as detailed as you’d seen in a single player game. I suppose that’s partly cos people newer role play to that extent.

    The only way we’re going to see MMO kill single player is if they wake up to decent plot lines, but I don’t see that happening. A plot ultimately has a beginning, middle and end, and an end is the one thing you don’t want on your books if you make an MMO…

  12. No, isn’t impossible.
    Here, at MMOCrunch a such as stupit post!
    MMO games and CRPG are two different things!
    MMO are, except UO, an extension of online games such as Diablo (action RPG, and, for me, they aren’t CRPG but only boring games).
    There are few CRPG? Yes, it’s true. But i prefear to play a masterpiece like The Witcher tan tons of crap games.
    I like to remember that Two Worlds, The Witcher, The Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights 2 (plus expansions for Oblivion and NWN2… that have tons of incredible mods!) and more games are playable now.
    And don’t forget that truly CRPGers (like me) love to reinstall and play again old games (Fallout 1&2, Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate 1&2, The Elder Scroll III: Morrowind and many, many other great games and masterpieces).

  13. Agreed. Mmos are killing single play rpgs, but thats not necessarily a bad thing. People seem to like MMOs more than single player rpgs. Survival of the fittest applies to game genres as well.

  14. Oblivion is still best according to me . i just could not stop playing it. i did not enjoy MMORPGs as much got bored soon.

  15. “Agreed. Mmos are killing single play rpgs, but thats not necessarily a bad thing. People seem to like MMOs more than single player rpgs. Survival of the fittest applies to game genres as well.”

    Nothing you just said was accurate. MMO’s aren’t killing single play.. and there are a lot of people (such as myself) who find them to be horribly boring.

  16. I tend to agree with the guy above that says that if MMO’s kill single player thats not necessarily a bad thing. Even playing MMO’s I mostly play solo, but its nice now and then to interact with a few friends. When I went and played Oblivion after playing MMO’s for years, my first thought was how quiet everything was. Of course I like it that way.

  17. I been gaming since early 80’s MUDS were the “Hot new thing” I see a world where we need bot sp and mmo I played WOW for 4 years but i like everyone else needs to feel “submerged” in the story line and truly RPG at times. I get sick of too much social interaction and need my escape to true fantasy wich is the SP rpg for me.

  18. I disagree. MMORPGs are one completely distinct genre in comparison to single-player RPGs. What I mean is that MMORPGs are too limited and have no storyline to follow, not to mention that most MMORPGs simply copy the classical RPG’s basic mechanics (such as having stats, leveling up, etc), but they have absolutely NOTHING of roleplaying, such games are basically online chat rooms.

    For example, I’ve been playing Oblivion lately, along with some other single-player RPGs such as Mount & Blade, and I certainly wouldn’t give them up for any sort of common MMORPG out there.

  19. To the people disagreeing that they are two seperate genres, you are right. But what he/she is saying, is that MMO’s are starting to steal light away from single-player RPG’s. Which is true in almost all respects. I mean, take a look at the GOOD single player RPG’s that have come out in the past 10+ years. We are, of course, talking about quite a few games, the elder scrolls, NWN, BG, Fable, and tonnes tonnes more. But for every one of those amazing games, there are probably close to 5 MMO’s that came out, for each one good single-player game. And for all of these amazing single-player games, you are paying store price (whatever it may be when you buy it), and that’s it (unless you go with expansion packs). Alot of the MMO’s out today (the ones worth playing. also meaning, the ones that cost addition fee’s) are out there soley for one reason. To connect you to millions of other players, who are likely going to start screaming racial and sexual insults at you, because you both “accidently” attacked the same monster. MMO’s are all about competetion, and it wouldn’t be such as bad thing, if human beings were decent people. But 90% of the time, you’re going to have someone harrassing you. And also, when it comes to MMO’s, i’m pretty sure every MMO in the world has an item shop, where they suck real money out of you, for items to make the game less work. So it’s down to “the prick with the most money to spend on pixelated items to boast about his ego on how great he is, and also how stupid because he’s just spent all this money on shit that isn’t real, to make people jealous and make the game easier” spending his money for no justifiable reason.

  20. The main trouble with games designed to be played online is that you buy the software, and then you have to pay for the privilege of playing a game you already paid for. This is just another name for theft.

  21. “The main trouble with games designed to be played online is that you buy the software, and then you have to pay for the privilege of playing a game you already paid for. This is just another name for theft.”

    And THAT is just another name for idiocy.

    Server maintenance and server cost, customer support, patches and bugfixes, content updates, elimination of hacks and cheats… if You seriously expect all this to be free, You are delusional. That’s one point.

    Second point, no, You do not pay for the game with MMOs. You pay for being able to play it. In most cases, what You buy is game time along with the software, but You could also just download the software and purchase game time on Your own. And even if that’s not the case, consider it a one-time payment for membership plus continous payment to use the facilities of whatever You are a member for.

    I see noone complaining about paying an enterance fee for a con and then having to pay for merchandise. Unfortunately, “If You don’t like it, GTFO” actually IS a valid argument here.


  22. The MMO genre nowadays is nothing more than a dirty scam.

    Not only do you have to purchase the game, but then you have to line the greedy-ass developers pockets each month in order to login and play.

    This should be illegal.

  23. The single player RPG is not by any means threatened by MMO’s. The thing is, only a select few developers have ever been significant in the SPRPG genre. You have Bandai/Namco, Bethesda and Square/Enix. Other developers are out there like Sega, Ubisoft, Oblivion, etc. They just aren’t as focused.

    With blockbusters like FF 7 being sold used at 150% of their retail price a decade later, it’s undeniable that the SPRPG has fans. Until that changes, the major players will keep on producing. Fans need to relax, though. **News flash** It takes longer to develop a great SPRPG than it does to play and finish it. Something like 3-5 years VS 50-150 hours.

    When fans rush developers to write a story and slam out characters, you wind up with a story as anticlimactic and disappointing as FFXII. I.E, Vaan, the main character had no story of his own. Just along for the ride?? I expected SO much more from Square.

    RPG’s tend to have no challenge factor. If you level up enough you can walk over anything. So the story is all it becomes about.

    MMO’s offer no story. Fans will come to realize this in due time. Much like big tobacco, eventually people realize it’s pointless, expensive and bad for you. So a fresh batch of noobs is required to replace those who quit.

    Until the next blockbuster must-play SPRPG comes out, I recommend reading books. I guarantee you can find plenty of great stories to keep you occupied. Or you can pay your dues to Blizzard every month and achieve a whopping nothing.

    If you like the multi-player aspect and adventuring with friends, tabletop role-playing is in every way superior to MMO’s. (Unless niether you nor any of your friends can write a decent story. If that’s the case, they would both reach a very expensive tie.)

  24. well..MMO can be nice sometimes like when the players do a group raid or a dungeon party.. but from all my MMO experience there will ALWAYS be a problem coz of the connectivity, as many Asian countries, my country’s network is horribly slow..>_< plus i love to do things at my own pace, take ,my time in leveling, fooling around etc, & my guildies are always expecting me to lvl up etc, i mean, i think MMO r not for me, i prefer RPGs where it is all about taking my time & pace^^ <3, i believe RPG games r still loved by many ppl,*especially ppl like me*

  25. Single player: at work, do your work stuff. get home, grab beer, load fun state and have fun, walk dog, go to bed.
    MMO (WoW): at work read and learn boss strategy – tankspot/elitistjerks, get home, do daily guild drama and quests, get in raid, waip, waip, tell yourself it is fuck**n fun and relaxing and you are progressing, believe that, 3am, go to bed.

    As long as there will be casual players, single player will not die, unless lot of MMO’s implement casual-singleplayer playing style, but then thats more than evolution.

  26. i like mmorpgs.. but they get boring over time.. or change to much from the original..(like maplestory)
    i really like singleplay/co-op play Rpgs that arnt Mmo.
    and for the online play i just stick with shooters.
    MMORPG’s take to much time.

    think i said enough there!

  27. To be honest, Single players are getting to the point of killing themselves.
    it seems most single-player RP G’s are more about flashing lights than actual gameplay.

    e.g I used to play final fantasy, but quit when i deduced that 50% of the game time is flashing lights.
    i then went on to mmo’s, not becuase there better than the singleplayer idea but because they are better than CURRENT singplayer Rpg’s

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. MMO Gaming » Blog Archive » The Slow Single-Player Death

Comments are closed.