4 Ways to Increase a Singleplayer Game's LifespanFeb 3, 2022 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Single-player games have a relatively short lifespan when compared to multiplayer titles. However, this shouldn’t be the case since there are a lot of ways to increase their longevity.
If you think about it, a single-player game’s lifespan is relatively short. Regardless of whether the narrative is open-ended or linear, like God of War or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the hype usually teeters off after a few months. Sure, they’re remembered as timeless, game of a generation-worthy titles, but at some point after release, not many people talk about them anymore.
Though this isn’t precisely an industry-breaking issue for single-player titles, it’s definitely a problem. No developer would want their creations to be a forgone memory within months, and fans would always clamor for new content.
With this in mind, there are several ways to increase a single-player game’s lifespan, enabling it to continue entertaining players even if they’ve finished the story content. Here are a few ways to get it done, as well as a few real-life examples.
Release it chapter by chapter
A chapter-by-chapter release not only increases the lifespan of a game but also helps retain players by providing them something new to look forward to with every update.
Genshin Impact is a shining example of a games as a service single-player experience. It’s a free-to-play game with optional (though at times, necessary) microtransactions. Despite being around for over a year, the story is nowhere complete, and the entire world map hasn’t even been revealed yet. This is so because miHoyo releases the game by chapters every few weeks, with each update delivering new maps, characters, and story content.
As of writing, the game is currently in version 2.4, which brought us back to Inazuma. It centers around a new area called Enkanomiya, a subterranean set of islands with a fascinating history, and its people happened to be the ancestors of Watatsumi Island. Though this update doesn’t explore the Traveler and his/her journey that much, it presents new world lore. With that said, we’ll likely see new main story content in 2.5 or all the way in 3.0, where a new region, Sumeru, is on the cards.
DLC expansions are a great way to increase a game’s lifecycle. They expand the overall story and even add in new gameplay elements. There are even some games that are eight years old, like Europa Universalis IV, that are still getting DLCs and are still widely played today.
Some DLCs are so massive to the point they’re highly regarded. One good example is The Witcher III’s Blood and Wine expansion which took Geralt to a fertile, scenic location, the Duchy of Toussaint. It provided a ton of new quests and a rather interesting story and cast of characters. Meanwhile, the new map is massive, presenting a fresh, vibrant locale, a far cry from the swampy marshes of Velen and the rugged cliffs of Skellige.
Another good example is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. As if the journey throughout Anglo-Saxon England wasn’t enough, one of the DLCs brought you to France, particularly during the Viking Siege of Paris. Apart from this, the most recent DLC, the Dawn of Ragnarok, brings you to the mythical side of the sagas, letting you fight as Odin, going up against fire and ice giants.
Making the game moddable
If you ask us, making the game unmoddable or not providing modding tools is a terrible mistake. Mods make the game community become more involved in the game, letting players “improve” and demonstrate gameplay additions that may even end up capturing the devs’ attention. Best of all, some mods even overhaul the entire game, giving a fresh experience. We’re sure that there are even some players who ended up buying a game just so they can play the mod.
Great examples of games that have active and enthusiastic modding communities include the Mount & Blade franchise, Total War, and Crusader Kings. Here are some of their exploits.
- M&B II: Bannerlord has its own mod tools where players are creating their own scenes, towns, and villages. In the future, some may even end up producing an entire overhaul. There were even some modders who addressed some of the game's most crucial issues.
- Crusader Kings III’s modding community is getting a lot of recognition from developers, with some creating an Elder Scrolls overhaul, while another lets you play as a lord in the Lord of the Rings universe.
- Total War: Attila is one of the most modded games in the series. The most notable is the Medieval Kingdoms overhaul mod, which is the closest we have to a Total War: Medieval III.
Events and free content periodically
Finally, one of the best ways to increase a single-player game’s lifespan is to add free content periodically and hold events. Genshin Impact and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla gets this done, setting up new events and content in certain timeframes giving players new rewards and things to do.
Overall, can you think of single-player games that definitely deserve to have an increased lifespan? Apart from the examples mentioned above, there are still quite a few, and considering the success of many single-player games today, we’re sure that future titles will follow suit in the coming years.