Recently it came to light that DICE has chosen not to include a single-player campaign in Star Wars Battlefront for the simple reason that no one would even play it anyway. Now, clearly DICE and EA have done this market research on this front. Between the two of them they've probably built a pretty clear picture of how popular single-player has been in previous DICE titles.
What they neglect to mention, however, is that every Battlefield campaign, bar none, has been universally bad. That’s no slight at DICE; the team knows what it’s doing with multiplayer, but the single-player introduced after Battlefield 2 basically screams tacked on. If DICE went to lengths to include a solid campaign with Star Wars Battlefront in the region of Call of Duty quality you can bet your bottom dollar that gamers would lap it up. Where once we drowned in single-player Star Wars shooters, we’re now stranded on Tatooine without a drop of Bantha-blood fizz to drink.
It’s a growing trend of late. Exhibit A is Evolve, the Mary Celeste of games. Released to the world in February without a proper single-player component, it hasn’t been seen nor heard since. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen to Star Wars Battlefront, but for the majority of $60 games to really hit it off, they do need to tick both boxes. See Titanfall for Exhibit B, if you like.
There’s always exceptions of course, and gamers are far more receptive to a single-player only title than a multiplayer-only game if it's a AAA release. CD Projekt RED just announced The Witcher 3 shifted six million units in its first six weeks on sales. A staggering achievement, and testament to just how many people want deep, engrossing single-player experiences.
What we’re finding now however is that developers only have the time or the money to focus on one of these experiences. Having a massive single-player component alongside multiplayer that can last the long haul is rare indeed, and perhaps EA and DICE were right to cut single-player entirely.
Evolve and Titanfall suffered because they were new IPs in non-existent worlds. We didn’t know anything about these worlds other than one featured giant monsters and the other giant robots. They had no identity to call their own, and none of this could be exposed during online play. Star Wars Battlefront is set within one of the richest sci-fi universes going. It’s got seven and counting films to draw on, dozens of games and hundreds of books. When you take your Snowspeeder out into the Battle of Hoth, you don’t need a cut-scene explaining why. You know where you are and why, and outwitting fellow gamers rather than brain-dead AI will always be more satisfying.
I guess where I'm going with this is that multiplayer (normally) games can't stand on their own without a rich universe to support them, but the act of creating this back story inevitably detracts from the development on the multiplayer itself. The effect is that we can't have our cake and eat it normally, with either the single-player or the multiplayer suffering as a consequence.
Over to you then, do you think DICE were right to cut out single-player from Star Wars Battlefront? If a game is lacking multiplayer or single-player, will this prevent you from buying it and why?