Do “Online-only” Games Need an “Offline” Mode?
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In a world where being able to constantly monetize games is one of the most attractive options for companies who want to ensure older games seem profitable, there are certain concerns on the part of players. What happens when a company stops supporting it and servers are closed? Things worked out okay for Destiny and Destiny 2 after Activision and Bungie split, but what if they hadn’t? A game like The Division or The Division 2 has a lot of solo content. Why isn’t there an option to disconnect? Well, maybe companies should start moving toward the idea of embracing entirely new installments that take that into account. Or, at the very least, offline patches.

Part of this thought process stems from an idea highlighted by Massive Entertainment Creative Director Julian Gerighty on Twitter. TT Games Level Designer Tim Spencer tweeted at him saying that we would “love the idea of a single player narrative driven spin off of The Division.” Gerighty shared by asking what his followers thought about the idea. The response was positive. But, it poses a valid idea. What if there was an Uncharted: The Lost Legacy style game for The Division series? Something that captured the gunplay and atmosphere, but didn’t require you to always be online, go for raids and have your schedule revolve around the game. 

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It seems like a perfect solution, and one to a situation that will increasingly appear as people move into the next generation of consoles. What happens when the PlayStation 5 and next Xbox take hold, bumping out previous generations’ games? Let’s use EA and Ubisoft as examples. While the two are happy to keep supporting games like Star Wars: Battlefront II or For Honor on active platform, would it be worth the trouble to keep it up for the next systems? It would be more fiscally responsible to push forward with entirely new projects, one that build on what they know and could adapt to what new consoles can offer. That would mean money from a new entry. For Honor has a campaign with an always-online requirement. Taking it offline would free people up and keep the game alive in a state that can continue to be preserved and enjoyed.

Someone could even argue that Titanfall and Titanfall 2 are responses to this sort of possible scenario. The original Titanfall was an online-only game. People loved what Respawn did with its combat and world-building. But, the online only option limited it. When Titanfall 2 came around, it added that offline element. It gave the series legs in a way the original did. Now, we see a whole series springing up around it. Apex Legends is fully embracing the online, games as a service life. But, Respawn did allegedly promise another Titanfall-world game. Perhaps it could also be a solo affair as a response.

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Besides, we’ve already seen the reverse happen plenty of times. Look at Rainbow Six. The series was known for offering a diverse array of single and multiplayer offline and online modes. Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is a good example, as it offered everything people could want or need. But then for Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft went online only. It then went forward, serving people from 2015 into 2019 and beyond. Neither stole sales away from the other. They offered a complement. Especially since when Rainbow Six Siege support does inevitably end, people can turn back to the other game that just kept going.

But the main thing is, having this option alleviates concerns. People may worry about getting invested in games where online is the only option. What happens when you get attached and something perhaps disappears? Those who grew up alongside older systems, like the NES or Genesis, can turn to physical copies to relive glory days. Online-only games could be a preservation nightmare. Spin-offs or updates to make them eternal could be the best option.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada
JMariye

Site Editor
Date: 07/24/2019

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