Modern PC gaming and the internet go hand in hand with one another. With multiplayer games, modding, day-of-release patches, and the uploading of in-game footage, it is sometimes hard to remember that long ago (in the ’90s), all video games had to be played ‘offline.’ While it is true that most of humanity has relatively stable and high-speed internet access these days, a question remains: Can you even play PC games without WiFi anymore?
PC games are playable without a WiFi connection with some caveats: Multiplayer-only games, games that have saves stored in the cloud, and some single-player games that constantly need to update will be unplayable without internet access.
The Online-Only Game Trend
As mentioned, some gamescan only be played with a WiFi connection. Multiplayer shooters like Call of Duty, CS-GO, or PUBG will be at best, limited if not entirely unplayable, without an internet connection. Sports games like FIFA, NBA2K, and Madden will also be unable to play in multiplayer matches without an internet connection. That much is common knowledge.
What isn’t so obvious is that a growing trend of games still requires an internet connection without the obvious need to connect to other players.
Some titles like GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2 have both single and multiplayer modes but still, need internet access even to play single-player campaigns. The justification is that the secondary Rockstar Launcher must be updated.
At the time of writing this article, GTA V’s single-player campaign was finally playable without an internet connection, but the experience left a sour taste in many gamers’ mouths.
Gaming companies justify this need for an internet connection because they claim that secondary launchers, anti-cheat software, and anti-piracy measures are needed to play and must, of course, be kept up to date. To me, these seem like weak excuses. I mean, why the hell do I need an internet connection to keep anti-cheat software up to date if I want to play A SINGLE PLAYER GAME?!? Updating the cheating software as I go online makes sense because that is when I would potentially be playing in multiplayer, where cheating would be a problem anyway.
No, the real reason game developers are making single-player games require an internet connection is because they all want you to use their secondary game launcher, which conveniently has advertisements for and access to buying microtransactions for the game.
For most gamers, this is probably nothing other than a minor issue, as they have an internet connection and can play online anyway. However, another thing to consider is that all of that extra software does create bloat and cause your PC to run a little slower.
The Good News
There is good news, however. As mentioned earlier, probably due to player backlash, Rockstar has backtracked and allowed GTA V’s single-player campaign to be played offline. Additionally, some games never went down that rabbit hole to begin with. Even some primarily multiplayer or co-op-focused games can be played offline with bots. DOTA 2 and Left for Dead 2 are some titles that come to mind. Thankfully, creation and sandbox games like Minecraft and Mount and Blade Bannerlord can also be played offline.
Here to Stay or a Passing Fad?
If you are like me (a dinosaur in gamer years at 32 years old), then not being able to play single-player games offline is just infuriating. While admittedly, being offline without an internet connection is not usually a problem, the principle remains. Blocking access to content that doesn’t logically require an internet connection is akin to theft. I bought and paid for ‘X.’ ‘X’ is mine now. I can use ‘X’ whenever I want. You are arbitrarily blocking my usage of ‘X’ etc.
Unfortunately, I think this is a trend that is here to stay. Gamedevelopers have way too much potential profit to lose by forcing players to use their ‘official’ secondary launchers. Microtransactions now account for a whopping 60% of all gaming content sales! This includes the purchase of in-game items but also the growing popular trend of the games as a service business model. More and more games are being offered as a subscription as an alternative to outright purchasing it. Obviously, for that model to work, internet access is required.
So can you play PC games without a WiFi connection? Yes. But the real question is: for how much longer?