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Valve: Single-Player Experiences Not Going Away

Valve's Erik Johnson tells Gamasutra that while MMOs and online games continue to be popular, "the analysis that every product needs to be a competitor in multipl
Valve Software is one of the standout companies making games that innovate in online gaming and distribution -- this is the company that made Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and the online community and digital distribution platform Steam. But Valve is also known for story-driven single-player experiences like Half-Life and Portal. Valve project manager Erik Johnson tells Gamasutra in a feature interview that there will always be room for single-player experiences alongside multiplayer offerings. "There is an interesting question in how many projects should be offline products, and how long that is going to be viable," he says. "Half-Life 1 was a really offline product. I think customers want to find ways to talk about the thing that they are a big fan of with other people, and ideally experience it the same way." He continues to explain that there are still opportunities for online innovation in single-player games. "That doesn't mean every game needs to be multiplayer. With single player games that were completely in a box, and there was no way to experience anything else, I think there are things that customers want that those games don't take advantage of," Johnson says. "That could just mean that you want to be able to chat with other people who are playing through the same part of the game as you, or the fans can write commentary nodes in the game and everyone can experience those to take advantage of the fact that there is a huge community of people that want to interact with each other," He says. "I still think the analysis that every product needs to be a competitor in multiplayer, or an MMO, is incorrect; there are a lot of people who want an experience without the stress, so I don't see that changing." For more from Johnson on online gaming, the creative process at Valve and specifically the creation of the upcoming Portal 2, read the full Gamasutra interview, available now.

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