Video games have a variety wider than any other form of media. The medium consists of dozens of genres and sub-genres giving consumers more choices than they could ever need. Such broad ideas coming together under one umbrella are the reason gaming is a bigger industry than film and music combined.
But like any other manifestation of entertainment, some niches are more popular than others. One of these genres is that comprising of different kinds of shooting games. Arguably, first-person shooting titles make up the category most widespread among gamers.
Many of the biggest franchises in gaming history are shooting games. FPS titles like Call of Duty, Halo, and Doom are historically significant juggernauts of the gaming world with insane commercial appeal. Similarly, online shooting games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Valorant have ruled the modern era via the Battle Royale mode.
The Appeal Of Online FPS Games
Even though there is something for everyone in the genre, online modes attract more people. Games like Fortnite have become the biggest money makers in the industry while being free to play. Due to their replay value, competition, and aesthetic in-game items, such games make billion every year.
Even titles like Battlefield and Call of Duty, whose single-player campaigns are essential to their formula, have more popular online modes. And single-player-only modes have also been becoming after-thoughts in these franchises. Call of Duty: Black Ops IV didn’t have one at all, Battlefield 2042 went the same way and had more focus on online play.
Fans did give these changes a negative reception, but the industry’s attitude towards single-player FPS was apparent. Online games were just more valuable, even when they were free. So, what is even the need for a 4-hour campaign? Most players are going to buy the game anyway.
However, the success of a recent game proves that single-player games still have a place in the FPS genre. High on Life came out on the Xbox Game Pass and has been a huge success. The game has just reminded us of the importance single-player stories have in the shooting genre.
The Success Of High On Life
Squanch Games, a studio founded by Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland, announced High on Life in June 2022 at the Xbox Bethesda Showcase. Among all of the reveals in the show, the trailer for the FPS game got the most attention. Most of this was because of one unique feature the title had: Talking guns.
Even though the setting and the gameplay got praise, the reaction to the talking guns was polarizing. Some people considered it a good experiment while others just considered the humor annoying. A gameplay leak from High on Life got a similar treatment from gamers.
When the game finally came out on Xbox Game Pass, nobody was expecting it to make waves. But, High on Life exceeded everyone’s expectations and topped the charts on the subscription service. At the start, the game went into the top 3 of the Game Pass on PC, consoles, and cloud streaming.
Such a launch was something never seen before from a third-party independent title on Xbox. Add to the fact that High on Life has no online features, and this is a very productive outcome. The game rose even more and went to No.1 on cloud streaming a short while later.
No one was stopping High on Life after this as the game became the most popular game on Xbox Game Pass across all devices. It also reached the top 3 of the general Xbox popular games chart. This unprecedented rise of the FPS title made it the biggest single-player and third-party Game Pass launch in history.
High on Life is officially a record breaking launch
• Biggest Game Pass Launch of 2022
• Biggest 3rd Party Game Pass Launch in History
• Biggest Single-Player Game Pass Launch Ever
Absolutely incredible result. Congrats @SquanchGames @highonlifegame
— Benji-Sales (@BenjiSales) December 20, 2022
High on Lifes performance wasn’t restricted to Xbox however. It was also released on PC via Steam and was the highest-selling software at the time of its launch. Only the Steam Deck beat it in the overall charts and as we know it is a hardware product.
So, an FPS game with no online features became one of the biggest releases of the year. That is even bigger when you consider the negative reception it got from critics. Most publications did give it an average review, even though the game already called this in a scene.
However, fan reception was mostly positive on sites like Metacritic. Squanch Games’ FPS has an 8.3 Xbox Series X user score on the website. When you consider the criticism it got and the meager 64 Metascore it has, this comes out as a big surprise.
An 8-hour long First-person shooter game, with elements people considered irritating won over the fans. In 2022, when franchises like Battlefield have been eliminating campaigns to focus on online features, that is a big deal. So, maybe players do like to play different things and not just Battle Royales.
The Importance Of Story-Driven Games Like High On Life
Players don’t want to play the same online modes all the time. Variety and options are what had made the gaming industry so successful, and High on Life proves exactly that.
Games like Fortnite and Warzone 2.0 are immensely successful cash cows. But, if everyone just makes replayable online games without a story to drive them, it would be horrible. Diversity makes video games what they are, and that’s why campaigns in shooting games are so important.
You may be thinking, single-player shooting games can’t compete with the profits Battle Royales make. But, why do they even have to compete in the first place?
They are different concepts that work in their different sphere. However, if you still think they need to compete, countless franchises are primarily single-player, but make record profits every game.
For starters, the game that started it all, Doom, is still massively successful in the modern age. No doubt, it does have online features, but the game is marketed on its lengthy 14-hour story. Doom Eternal made over $450 million in revenue while being a single-player story-driven FPS.
For sure, this is nothing compared to the $5 billion Fortnite makes every year. But, when you compare the cost that goes into keeping Fortnite running and compare it to the budget of Doom, it levels out. Legendary FPS games have been adventures with overarching stories, so it’s basically in our heritage.
Quake, Half-Life, BioShock, Farcry, and Wolfenstein are just some legendary franchises that are based on single-player stories. Not only are they commercially successful, but also critically acclaimed by gamers all around. So, single-player FPS games with a story at the heart of them have historically made the big bucks and are the reason FPS gaming is what it is today.
They also have replay value due to the different scenarios, difficulties, and DLCs they have to offer. Maybe you can’t play them for over a year, but actually relating to characters and reliving your favorite moments, again and again, is worth the $60. Games like Borderlands, which are a popular modern addition to this trope, just prove how players still want FPS games with a good story.
Online games will indeed be the major player in the FPS sub-genre for years to come. But, that doesn’t mean consumers don’t need the heartbreak, adventure, and soul single-player FPS campaigns provide.
High on Life’s success on Xbox Series X proves that they are still willing to pay for it and it will be a shame if we don’t provide it.
You can prefer anyone you like, online FPS games or shooting titles with a narrative. But, you have to agree they will always go hand-in-hand in the gaming industry. They both provide different experiences for unique consumers, and that variety is what makes gaming one of the biggest industries in the world.
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