Fun With Numbers: FPS Single Player vs Multiplayer

Hey there. I’m in a slightly analytic mood, so I wanted to discuss something I was chatting with my lady about yesterday. I was explaining to her the back story surrounding Titanfall. You know, the events leading up to the release. As I was explaining everything, I mentioned that Respawn made the highly controversial decision to eschew a traditional single player mode that is often found in most first person shooters. Their rationale was that it was too huge an undertaking for their small team. They ALSO spoke about how roughly 60 percent of gamers don’t even finish the single player mode in FPS titles. That can’t be true right? RIGHT? I don’t know! So, this is the subject of today’s number crunch.

So what numbers will we looking at you ask? 1 number in particular. How many players actually finish the single player mode in first person shooters that also include a competitive multiplayer component? For this exercise I will simply use the trophy percentages. For those who don’t know, the PS4 will show you the percentage of players that have earned a particular trophy. Therefore, by locating the trophy you earn for finishing a game, you can easily get a reasonable estimate of how many people actually finished. Some gamers may play offline and never update their trophy data, thereby skewing the count a little. But I doubt it is enough to matter much. With that said, I’ll use every FPS I played last gen and this gen for research since those games are on my trophy list. Let’s look at the list. Difficulties in parenthesis when applicable.

  • Killzone 2 (PS3) – 28/0.6 (Any/Elite)
  • Killzone 3 – 42.4/2.4 (Any/Elite)
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) – 19.8/2.7 (Any/Hard)

As we can see here, Killzone 3 actually has a better completion percentage than it’s predecessor. The Shadow Fall numbers are particularly noteworthy though. It seems that the campaign didn’t hook players at the same rate. Personally I didn’t find it as compelling as previous installments, which weren’t that great to begin with. It’s notable that the percentage for the hardest difficulty is rising though. Way to go everyone!

  • Battlefield 4 (PS4) – 25.4/19.3/5.7 (Easy/Normal/Hard)

I don’t have the Battlefield 3 data, as I didn’t play it last gen. I would be interested to see how they compare. However, Battlefield compares favorably against its competition on PS4. It’s tops as far as completion percentage, and highest difficulty percentage. 

  • COD: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3) – 34.2/6.4 (Any/Hardened or Veteran)
  • COD: Black Ops (PS3) – 29.3/2.6 (Any/Hardened or Veteran)
  • COD: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3) – 34.7/5 (Any/Hardened or Veteran) There’s even a trophy for STARTING the campaign and only 64.3 percent of players got it. AMAZING.
  • COD: Ghosts (PS4) – 24.9/2.6 (Any/Veteran)

It seems the Modern Warfare themed games fare better than their cousins. MW1 didn’t have trophies, but I suspect it would be the highest on the list. I seem to remember EVERYONE playing through it for some reason. MW also has about double the percentage of people finishing on at least Hardened.

  • Bioshock (PS3) – 36.6/5/2.8 (Any/Hard/Survivor)
  • Bioshock 2 (PS3) – 37.2/4.2 (Any/Hard)
  • Bioshock: Infinite (PS3) – 38.4/28/5.5/2.2 (Easy/Normal/Hard/1999 Mode)

Even though only Bioshock 2 has a multiplayer, I included the others for comparison purposes. As you can see, the finish rates stayed roughly consistent throughout the 3 games. This makes me feel like those who played Bioshock 2 simply did so for the single player portion. Slight proof that adding multiplayer to a series known for single player may not always be worth the investment. Nothing definitive of course, just a thought.

  • Resistance 2 (PS3) – 35.8/1.6 (Any/Superhuman)
  • Resistance 3 (PS3) – 41.6/3.1 (Any/Superhuman)

Resistance 3 sold a lot less than 2, so these numbers may be skewed. With that said, I can guess that the numbers at worst stayed consistent. I wonder what the numbers for the original would have been. Resistance grades out favorably with the others as a series. I think more people liked it for the single player anyway, the competitive component never caught on at a high rate. Now the co-op……

The biggest thing I notice with these numbers is that in a best case scenario, roughly 60 percent of gamers will not see your entire campaign in a FPS. This falls right in line with what Respawn’s thinking was. So to you gamers who whined and bitched about the lack of single player in Titanfall, I hope you’re part of the 40% and not the 60%. Otherwise, you’re part of the problem. More devs are trying to blend multiplayer elements into the traditional story mode to get those online focused gamers to complete it. We’re far more likely to play through the story if our buddies can join along. Destiny looks to be trending in that direction. Halo and Gears of War are great examples as well. I wonder what the completion numbers for those look like? If anyone has an inkling of an idea or any other games not included, feel free to let us know. Well, gotta go finish editing the podcast. Have fun with the numbers!



One thought on “Fun With Numbers: FPS Single Player vs Multiplayer

  1. What you seam to be forgetting is that MOST people NEVER complete their games.

    For example Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, just looked it up on my Steam account, 18% completion (killing the last boss) rate, for this very short (maybe 6h game-play main-story only) for a game with 93% approval rating.

    I remember hearing that the AVERAGE playtime for Diablo 3 was something like 18h… personally I have a couple of hundred. Most people (that actually completed D3 in any sense of the word, just killed Diablo in normal then were satisfied with the game.

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