Online multiplayer is present in a quarter less 2012 console games than those launched near the beginning of this generation, and gamers don't seem to mind. Video game research and consulting firm EEDAR spoke with the Penny Arcade Report about multiplayer modes' gradual disappearance from near ubiquity.
“You can see that in 2006, one year into the release of the Xbox 360 and the launch year of the PlayStation 3, 67 percent of the games had online multiplayer, 58 percent had offline multiplayer and 28 percent had no multiplayer,” EEDAR chief operating officer Geoffrey Zatkin said. “By 2012, you can see that only 42 percent have online multiplayer, a drop of 25 percent, 44 percent have offline multiplayer, a drop of 14 percent, and 41 percent have no multiplayer, a rise of 16 percent. So, over time, fewer and fewer high-definition console games are including multiplayer as part of their core offering.”
Gaming forums and other communities have scorned the dreaded "shoehorned multiplayer" for the extent of this generation, but the problem appears to be clearing up. Multiplayer is an expensive undertaking for publishers, and high-profile console games from Skyrim to Batman: Arkham City have succeeded without it. So much for a marketing necessity.
“I don’t think that players are noticing,” Zatkin said. “I believe that people want good games. I don’t think any single feature makes every game more fun; putting in a 'little bit of everything' often means that your game doesn’t shine in any single area. A game that gives you a great experience is what you want; if the great experience involves multiplayer, fantastic. If it doesn’t--well, that can be fantastic as well.”