It's OK if you don't want to play video games online with tons of people. I'm with you. And so are lots of other people. Lots of other people.
On Tuesday, I was bantering with Peter Moore, the second-in-command at the massive game publisher EA, about Battlefield 3. He was "delighted" about the game, a game he and much of the rest of the gaming world thinks of as a primarily multiplayer thing.
Millions of customers satisfied! Hordes of people playing the game online! A job well done for the game's developers at DICE!
Viva online multiplayer!
It's enough to make you wonder if singleplayer campaigns — Battlefield 3's far weaker component — even matter.
Oh, solo campaigns matter. They matter to me, who rarely plays games online.
And, what do you know?
Peter Moore had a great stat for me that proves that I'm not alone. Not only that, but he seemed to understand that gamers like me (and you?) don't want to disconnect completely. We want to be online, but only sort of.
Here's the stat he cited, referring to Battlefield 3's player base:
"Our telemetry might tell us that as many as 20 per cent just want to play almost offline — connected yet offline."
I had not heard the term "almost offline" before, but as soon as Moore described it, I waved my hand to signal that he was talking about me. These people "do like getting stats and what-have-you [from an online connection]," he explained, but they don't like to play online, perhaps because they're intimidated (other parts of that 20 per cent, he said, are simply completely offline because they don't have internet access.)
I'm part of the 20 per cent, primarily because I don't have the time to practise or the interest to dedicate myself to getting good at Battlefield. I prefer to hop from one game to another, never honing my skills in any one game, and always eager to play through the next singleplayer adventure designed by the finest game creators in the world.
Moore told me he's played Battlefield 3's campaign all the way through. And, sure, he says, there's a place for singleplayer campaigns. He considers the one in Battlefield 3 to be good prep for multiplayer. "I felt it was useful for me, because it kind of trained me to get used to get the courage to get out there online," he said. "I felt better equipped having played the singleplayer. But I think DICE will tell you the real focus was on multiplayer.
The number two man at EA tried to give me courage. Moore pointed out that Battlefield is "not like Counter-Strike where you get slaughtered in 30 seconds". He joins squads in Battlefield 3 with EA employees, who he says help keep him safe. (A ha! I just became editor-in-chief of Kotaku in January. Now I finally know what to tell the staff under me to do.)
I am fine with being in the 20 per cent. I'm even happier to know that I'm part of the "almost-offline" tribe. We're not in a binary world of online gamers and offline gamers. Some of us take the middle approach. We like to play. We like to be connected.
We just don't like to be that connected. Leave that to the 80 per cent.