It only took a week before Hogwarts Legacy, the excitingly anticipated role playing game that allows players to experience the magical world of Harry Potter on their own, made headlines with rather unexpected news. A video shows not one but two different students running through the magic academy’s corridors which doesn’t sound too special until you take into account that Hogwarts Legacy is a single player game.
HogWarp is the name of the mod that makes this possible. The team behind HogWarp is well-known since they already created one of the most sought-after multiplayer mods on the modding platform Nexus. Skyrim Together Reborn allows shared adventures for up to eight players in the fascinating world that is Skyrim and has been downloaded over 500.000 times since 2022. It’s easy to guess that HogWarp might be even more succesful. The game is overflowing with secrets and stories to discover and sharing these experiences with friends will be even better.
But if that is the case, why wasn’t there a multiplayer mode in the first place? It seems unlikely that the studio responsible for the development didn’t consider it at least once. Imagine the roleplaying possibilities a Hogwarts Legacy server could have and how it would increase the lifespan of an otherwise great but ultimately finite video game. There already is a vast amount of mods out there that all seem to fix the same problem: a missing multiplayer option for incredible single player games. Why does this matter?
There is the consensus that multiplayer games first and foremost need to be a gaming experience that neglects storytelling and narrative in favor of gameplay – gameplay that often involves many other players. However, people looking for HogWarp do not only want to play with others – they want to play with friends. Games like Fortnite are not about enjoying a great persistent world together with friends but instead generating the biggest amount of attention, from players and media alike.
This is not a bad thing but inherently has nothing to do with great world building but micro transactions and people bullying others in chats. Clearly, this also comes down to the maturity of players involved. The Fortnite demographics show that 60% of their playerbase are between 18-24 years old, maybe even younger, as it is not uncommon for teenagers to get access. If you add in that there seem to be millions of gamers involved in online games, it gives the impression that single player doesn’t stand a chance.
A Sony study from 2019 shows that gamers actually prefer single player games. This seemed so unexpected that, as the article states, it even impacted Playstation 5 activities. Forbes repeatedly reported that videogames start to focus too much on multiplayer and that the majority of gamers still prefer single-player. If so, why is there such a big demand for modifications that turn single players into group activities?
The reasons are pretty simple. Playing games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild or the aforementioned Hogwarts Legacy with friends is always going to be an uplifting experience that doesn’t add fear of missing out and the need for daily logins. Subnautica Nitrox still offers the same fascinating experience but is less intimidating than playing solo. Players want to explore the worlds they love in ways they see fit. Elden Ring, on of the biggest games of 2022, already offers some kind of co-op but it was too restricted and punishing for casual players to really feel like playing as a team.
Another reason is that some people simply have less time as they tackle new milestones in their lifes. Family, job, housing. It might come across as old-fashioned but this study shows that single player becomes more important as gamers grow older. This again doesn’t mean that people dont want to engage with others but when they do, it should be meaningful, create stories and memories that are worth sharing. It is not about the quantity of people you play with, it is about the quality of content you experience.
With every new single player release, studios and publishers alike should consider a default multiplayer mode, not the other way around. People are tired of seeing a campaign that plays and feels like an afterthought for franchises that used to be brilliant storytelling monuments. There are so many big multiplayer games that already offer little to no story anyway.
Therefore, keep the strenghts of a single player game and make multiplayer the new standard. Let a group of friends explore your worlds and give them the tools to express themselves. It might lead to incredible results in the long run.