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Will The Multiplayer Obsession Continue In The Next Generation?

Multiplayer only seems to get more popular with every passing year, and it seems clear that its popularity won't be waning any time soon.

But as time goes on, I see more and more gamers rebelling against this fresh revolution. Many of them grew up with the hobby as I did, with the only "multiplayer" occurring when a friend sat next to you. And for the most part, it was a solitary hobby; something we did by ourselves and very much for ourselves.

At the same time, I have not been one of the vocal group that has complained about shorter games this generation. Most people my age don't necessarily have the time to play and complete these long epic adventures any longer and for many of us, a 10-hour adventure is plenty long enough. We don't require the extra longevity of multiplayer, either. And on top of which, if you really look at the nature of the industry, there are still a lot of single-player lovers out there.

Sure, Call of Duty is the biggest name in the game world and it's primarily because of the multiplayer boom. But look at the other huge names: The Elder Scrolls, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Grand Theft Auto, etc. Most of them have multiplayer options but hardly anyone is buying those games specifically for that reason. And look at what's coming up for PS3 exclusives: The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and God of War: Ascension. Not a one of those will rely on multiplayer for sales and maybe only one (Ascension) will even have multiplayer.

Just this past week, the excellent Dishonored showed up; another top-notch campaign-oriented title. And that leads me to my next point- Many of these games I'm mentioning not only sell extremely well, they're also some of the most critically acclaimed titles ever. Hence, both critics and gamers love them and I don't see that very large group diminishing any time soon. It's true that the industry is dominated now by casual gamers (and it never has been before), but that doesn't mean the core gamers, those who require their single-player goodness, have disappeared. We're still here, too.

Therefore, I'm actually not too worried about multiplayer eclipsing everything else in the next generation. Are you?

Tags: multiplayer games, multiplayer video games, next gen, next generation gaming

10/18/2012 9:55:24 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (35 posts)

Qubex
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 10:39:30 PM
Reply

Honestly Ben, I think it will increasingly influence the way games are played.

Partly due to the way the internet has become more "socially aware" so to speak. The idea that your "always on" life is broadcast worldwide for everyone to see is a frightening prospect for me; not to mention the 24/7 tracking and other security quibbles that can lead to serious breaches in ones privacy.

The idea that what ever one does online needs to be done within a "community" of people extends to playing games online all the time, and therefore expect PS4 to be more socially connected than PS3, with a multitude of connectivity choices and services.

The very fact that Facebook, Twitter and other integrated in-game social media services are driven by the adage of "always on" connectivity with your neighbours in cyberspace, will no-dount continue influencing multi-payer aspects of gaming and possibly drive it harder.

Think of it as the ultimate "lock-in"; therefore brand and what it represents becomes your master - and to some it really is...

"Resistance is futile"... so true these words are when it comes to multi-player.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Last edited by Qubex on 10/18/2012 10:44:43 PM

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Highlander
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 11:17:56 AM

Qubex, I think we are in agreement, I think of it as games as a service. We talk about cloud gaming and all the things around it and talk of streaming games - plural. but in reality, single games become the focus online. Once someone get's really hooked into a game online it becomes their 'go to' form of entertainment, it is their entertainment service. For me it's been White knight Chronicles, for someone else it could be Call of Duty or something else. But the game in a sense is the service. It is exactly that lock-in you talk about. I think that multi-player is here to stay for sure, no question. Whether Single player continues to be healthy is a better question. Despite high profile examples like the ones Ben gave, I am more doubtful about the fate of Single player than I am of multi-player.

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Qubex
Saturday, October 20, 2012 @ 8:18:27 AM

Thanks Highlander. Yes, you raise an interesting prospect of games being services, and "go to entertainment" for gamers wanting continuous thrills. The question indeed is, how will single player suffer? Maybe it won`t, maybe we get fewer but better single player campaigns from the AAA developers. As we always say, time will tell I guess...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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ulsterscot
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 10:57:41 PM
Reply

I think its going to get bigger - hand in hand with "free" to play - COD free to play with the maps from MW 1 & 2 is being tested in Asia - it will hit these shores soon and sweep all before it. Cryrek's Warface will be huge too.

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Oxvial
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 3:01:03 AM

It just gonna get more of a focus, kids love it.

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kokoro
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 10:59:38 PM
Reply

I started playing COD to see why people loved it so much. At first it was okay but later, as I grew in proficiency, I found myself playing because it made me feel so good. Every time I killed someone I was rewarded with a kind of ego gratification. Eventually all I cared about was killing as many as possible because I wanted to maximise that feeling of superiority. I suppose one could describe the experience as "fun", but from my perspective it wasn't pure fun. Rather, it was a sort of psuedo-fun that stems from feeling good about oneself.

To put it quite bluntly, playing COD was reduced to fingering my ego.

I've noticed that I had similar experiences with other online multiplayer games. Although maximum pleasure can be attained by playing COD, due to its fast pace/twitchesque nature.

So basically what I am saying is this: online multiplayer games are so popular because they make people feel good about themselves.

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SaiyanSempai
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 11:41:17 PM

Same story with me, checked out MW2 and got completely hooked on it for almost 2 months. It did become an ego trip as I got better and was able to increase my kill/death ratio. But as fast as I started I just quit. That's because I realized that it was all effin pointless.

I mean, I wasn't progressing in a story, I wasn't getting any trophies, I was just doing the same thing over and over again with slightly different results. Playing with friends meant that they were on the same map somewhere or nearby for brief 10 to 30 second chunks every few minutes until one of us died and respawned somewhere else. I DO see the attraction, but I would rather indulge in a good story or an online coop.

I've been playing the heck out of Borderlands 2 with friends. Much better experience!

Last edited by SaiyanSempai on 10/18/2012 11:43:57 PM

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duomaxwell007
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 11:13:17 PM
Reply

hopefully the multiplayer trend continues... with one small twist... instead of all the multiplayer games being sports, fighting, and shooters.... RPGs get involved too.. I might actually care to play Skyrim if I could explore its world with other people

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SaiyanSempai
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 11:48:26 PM

Skyrim with other people? That would be an MMO. lol. No, I totally agree! Skyrim with the multiplayer of Borderlands. That's a big W-I-N.

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frylock25
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:32:25 AM

they have an elder scrolls mmo coming out. it is only coming for pc at this point but it is already in the works.

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Zeronoz
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 2:21:14 AM

There`s a online MOD for Skyrim (PC) but I`m not how it works.

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Temjin001
Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 11:23:30 PM
Reply

I just hope single player centric gamers are alright with production ceilings that place a cap on just how expansive and detailed a single player experience can be from a production standpoint. I say this because market data cited by Gamasutra shows that anything less than the highest produced AAA titles have a discouraging trend to go up against.

It's discouraging reading about games like DarkSiders II and Sleeping Dogs falling short of good sales. I wouldn't call these necessarily AAA produced, but their sales performance may paint a grim future for anything less-than-the-highest produced offerings. THQ was one of those publishers that suffered massive losses. Titles like Devils' Third lost support because of fear of it not being marketable enough for a safe profit. Sega felt the same way about Bayonetta 2, right?

I'm also concerned for content rich linear RPG's and I doubt we'll see any return to a PSX form of anything from Squaresoft's 32-bit era. 4 discs of data was lots of content back then. Producing a yield of content to that scale but of next-gen fidelity would probably be extraordinarily expensive going forward.

Nintendo recognized this trend preceding the Wii.
I know games like Mario and Zelda stopped competing budget-wise after the high end titles found during the PSX and PS2 era. Extra money is not being spent for lavish set pieces, actors, Hollywood soundtracks orchestrated in global studios, and hyper detailed, and or, realistic imagery. Rather, Nintendo's focus over the last decade has been ingenuity behind the way we play games, interfaces etc. (this isn't me suggesting anything more than their intentions). This has allowed them to grow a sub-culture of gamer that isn't content driven; rather, game play driven. Ardent Nintendo fans often refer to Nintendo games as "fun" when defending their lesser produced offerings from competitors. They probably aren't talking about surreal experiences or emotive story lines, just entertaining ways to play.

I think in the future we'll probably see more headway made with companies like ThatGameCompany, Hello Games, SuperGiant Games, SEGA, The Rainbow Moon team, and others who will help drive heavier demand for lower cost, but highly engaging, more game play/innovation oriented, experiences that aren't of AAA production values but are fulfilling nonetheless. Experiences that aren't necessarily content driven or realism-centric.

So basically looking backwards at prior generation's most noteworthy games, we could see a clear correlation between heavy production values and excellent game design (MGS, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy etc) as a dominating force of our time, but going forward I think we'll continue to see a divide in how publishers approach their content and we might find a limited AAA offering of products but have an ambrosia of lesser scaled offerings by devs who will compete with production constraints.

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Killa Tequilla
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 1:58:26 AM
Reply

I think it will get even bigger. Free roam and coop is what the future holds.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 2:08:55 AM
Reply

Seeing as I use the broadest definition of multiplayer I would say yes, absolutely it will be the dominating aspect to the next generation. To me multiplayer is everything from Co-Op, side-by-side, and online multiplayer. So yes back in the day when you sat on the couch next to your friend playing the same game with split screen, that to me is multiplayer, as a matter of fact I would call it the roots of mutliplayer.

And yes I want it to succeed, I have always found that AI is a joke in %90 of games and that going against or playing with another human is almost always better. To me most games can greatly benefit from multiplayer and I really hope this trend continues, I just hope Sony will increase the friends list to around 500 with the PS4 as the current 100 cap is just BS for anyone that plays multiplayer games, the clan I am apart of has I think 184 members and I am upset at Sony that I have to pick who amongst those get to be on my friends list. Let alone people I know from other places as in this site, other sites, former clans, and just real world friends.

And yes Ben I am one of the ones that complains about short campaigns. As I don't think the amount of time you have for playing it should have anything to do with the length of a game. You are an extreme exception to the rule as you have to play lots of games to keep up with your job. I however also have a limited amount of time compared to when I was younger, but that has nothing to do with how much time I will put into a game. The Yakuza games for instance I am only 10 to maybe 20 percent of the way through Yakuza 4 and yet I am still slowly playing it. And without a doubt I will play Dead Souls which is still sitting in its wrapper. For me I will find the time if I like your game, period! I want length, along with quality which I know sounds a like I am asking for too much but that is what I have come to expect from this hobby.

Also please don't get me wrong, I am not calling for the death of single player games. I just feel that most games if designed properly can be a lot more fun with some kind of mulitplayer thrown in. Single player games will always have there place and should NEVER disappear, if they do I feel the death of gaming wouldn't be to far behind.

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Lawless SXE
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 3:23:11 AM
Reply

I think that asynchronous multiplayer will draw closer and closer to ubiquity meaning that the pure single player experience will come to some sort of crisis point that will see it die. It's a simple as that because the gaming industry, as any industry, is driven by corporates desperate to cater to the commonest denominator in order to maximise profits. A few auteurs and indie developers isn't enough to turn back this tide. It's as simple as that.

We will continue to see SP-centric efforts going forward, but they won't be pure, unfortunately.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 4:16:09 AM

I disagree there..I think we will still see true single player games they will just be more indie style games rather then big triple A publishers bringing them. Rainbow Moon is a good example that the genre is not going to die anytime soon, it is just that the big name players are gonna see less and less of a reason to make these types of games. And when I say big name I am merely talking about companies like EA and Activision, which unfortunately keep buying up and killing these smaller studios.

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homura
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 7:36:28 AM
Reply

I think we will see more SP Campaign next gen, almost every developer now wants to be like a film director, whether it's a Hollywood blockbuster type or an Art Film type. They will focus more on the story. Maybe some will have multiplayer but it's not going to be the main focus of the game.

And interesting enough, today's MMORPG or MMOFPS is much more focus now on the story, it evolves now into real time story progression inside the game. And there is also an ambitious MMORPG (Arche Age) that players can create their own history in their own server, which means every server can have a different history.

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Highlander
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 11:26:33 AM

History, is not story. You cannot create the intricate narrative of a single player RPG in that setting. The whole point of a single player narrative is that you are the character, you play the role of the central character in the narrative, not one of 6 in the group around the central character of the narrative. I've always held to the thought that a really good RPG's story is like a novel that you are reading and you are playing the main character. the author has already written every event, every conversation you will have, you are along for the ride, just as in a novel. It's not about freedom to change the narrative, it's about enjoying the narrative and the ride. a good RPG takes you on the scenic route through the narrative giving you the opportunity to really get the most from that ride. A poor RPG takes a straight line through the narrative and does not let you smell the flowers along the way. The further away from the main character(s) that the player is pushed, the less involving the game is. Nebulous stories that unfold depending on player actions in a multiplayer setting where the actions of multiple players affect the outcome cannot ever have the laser focus of a single player narrative, and even though they allow players to take a very scenic route, the lack of focus in the narrative is accentuated by the much looser path through the narrative. Quite the opposite to the way in which the side quests, and other tasks in a single player RPG can embellish the setting and deepen the character(s).

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homura
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 11:57:24 AM

In Arche Age, players can create their own town, village or kingdom, they can also destroy each other, basically altering the history of the open world depending on the players, a town, village or kingdoms in your server may not exist in other servers. It's an ambitious MMORPG with a building elements of RTS games, only in this game it's more massive in scale. It's from Korea.

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Huey
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 8:55:36 AM
Reply

Hi guys and gals,
I am not much of a person to submit comments to any online site. I am 57 years old and have been gaming since well games were available. I am also retired law enforcement with almost 30 yrs service. I have seen most everything there is. My idea of multiplayer is local. I had more fun with my children playing Starfox on the N64 or Tetris than anything else. When you can stand in the living room and yell out that you are in the mood to kick some butt and get ran over in a stampeed for game controllers, that is my idea of fun. And being able to get the double lasers!
Thanks for allowing the input

Huey

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BikerSaint
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:07:26 PM

Huey,

I'm just shy of 60 myself(about 2 & 1/2 more weeks to go), & there's one other guy here that's a few months older than me.

So welcome to our own little section of Old Folks Home, LOL

"Game ON till they pry your controller out of your cold clammy hands"

Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/19/2012 12:08:04 PM

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slugga_status
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 9:56:12 AM
Reply

Multiplayer is just going to get bigger and expand to different genres. Yet I think we'll receive more single player games. I think we have enough developers out there that can give us some killer games. Even the games with MP will have excellent campaigns. I think gaming in general is just going to get better to be honest..

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 9:57:14 AM
Reply

Multiplayer started at the end of the Ps2 era (MGS3:S, Timesplitters:FP, Burnout3) and with he PS3 it is here to stay. Pretty much every big AAA game is forcing an online counterpart along with the titles. Let's be honest, who bought Uncharted 2 & 3, Dead Space 2 or Bioshock for the online.

As are generation grows we become more dependent on technology and we expect it to be online. You go to the cinema and people can't switch their phones off for a couple of hours... In my eye that is really sad, but it is how society is turning. I was horrified to see Final Fantasy XIII-2 had alerts to Facebook, why would anyone want to do that? I fear the next one might even have more integration with that daemon of a site.

I could quite easily continue gaming without online. If we had to pay for a premium package like the XBOX 360 does, I simply wouldn't go online. To me most online games play out the same. It just one massive killfest. We tired something more creative with Little Big Planet and all people do is make levels based off Mario. Metal Gear Online was the only game, where I felt the controls gave the player so much to do, I would often ram people with my box or catch them with my dirty magazines around the corner or even shake my hips and dance. It's the only online game I have played which allows for such diveristy that you don't have to simply kill everyone.

Of course, as Huey mentioned the most tragic thing of all is the absence of split-screen play. Even Burnout: Paradise got rid of it for the online mode. Whenever I have a friend come over we never play PS3 games, as the only 2 players games I have are fighters and I slaughter them all to the point where it's too predictable. One game which I feel is very anti-this-gen is Catherine. Not only does it have a single player story with extra modes (which isnt DLC...) it also has a mode where you can work up the towers or compete with one another. This game too me stands up for everything I used to love about gaming.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 11:41:43 AM
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Yes.

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BikerSaint
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:10:00 PM
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Yes I'm afraid it will, & unfortunately at the expense of SP modes.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:15:04 PM
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I think it's important to acknowledge that games that are game play oriented usually are more entertaining with multiple players. It seems to me people have forgotten what game play actually is. The first game system and also Christmas I could remember involved the Atari 2600. Not the $50 re-release, no, the wood paneled original. Games back then were nothing but game play. Interaction of logical components that were themed with iconography. There was winning and losing. Game Over. Games were fun by virtue of their game play alone. This is game play in a tradiotional sense.

To entertain the notion that multiplayer games, and their popularity, is to go away or become less involved suggests to me that people in general would have to be less interested in playing games.
I don't think this will happen. ever.
Whether it be card games, board games, or video games that are made after the manor of game play centric values, multi-player interaction will always be highly compelling.

but to go back in time and look at the earliest titles that attempted to support a meanful narrative my memory takes me to the 8-bit era. Concerning a console-only vacuum, games like Ninja Gaiden, Dragon Warrior, Ultima(PC ports), and others attempted to apply narrative to game play in the form of cutscenes. All game play stops and a story is presented with dialogue that provides a sense of meaning behind your actions. Since these times games have come about that feel more dynamic in emotions because of efforts to capture a spirit of adventure or an emotional desire that stretches beyond the logical components of game design.

I think what we're seeing with multiplayer gaming is by and large a popular form of entertaining ourselves. Traditional game design is fun. Games that don't need narrative or emotional invocation. I don't think this will ever go away. I think narrative and emotional driven interaction will also have a sphere to exist within. Ultimately, Id say the days of any one form of entertainment defining the existence and breadth of content offerings of a console is essentially over. People own consoles now for all kinds of reasons.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/19/2012 12:20:00 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:33:14 PM

Wood paneling ftw.

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Highlander
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 1:08:42 PM

lol, try Idolm@ster 2... gameplay is fun.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 4:12:20 PM

Holy shart! Idolmaster 2 import is like ten million dollars!

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 20, 2012 @ 1:17:12 AM

Wood paneling needs a come back. IdolMaster looks different to say the least. Never knew of it prior to today ;)

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Stang
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:45:10 PM
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Addicted to Call of Duty MP - its all I need.

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T2X
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 4:52:12 PM
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I don't think it will reign supreme forever, as nothing can be on top forever. Eventually, the bottom drops out and people may become bored with it. It also just so happens that games like COD (shooters etc) draw a certain crowd. The crowd is HUGE but, it represents a significant slice in the video entertainment pie. In short I believe not everyone loves multiplayer, or rather some people only enjoy online games in certain contexts, Racing, Sports games, shooters etc. But many times the same people also spend a lot of time in the campaigns as well. I can't say for sure, but I believe the SP will always thrive to some degree. The funny thing is that the companies are now starting to sell the Multiplayer portions of the full retail game. Such as Killzone 3. That tells me that they figured they could sell just the MP portion to a significant audience and turn some more profit. It will definitely be interesting to see what takes place in the future.

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Teddie9
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 7:24:32 PM
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Unfortunately yes,and I just need to savour all the great single player games that release from now on. Then again I might just be particularly cynical about the subject - I hope I'm wrong and you're right Ben.....

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homura
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 7:54:06 PM
Reply

Check out this video, take note of Arche Age and the developers vision for the game. It's amazing. This is the future of MMORPG.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDSbBIvK5G0&feature=related

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Raze22
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 8:53:08 PM
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Yes it will. As online/internet connectivity gets bigger. So will multiplayer because people like to interact with each other, but that doesn't mean single player will die out or go away.

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