Video game developers, eager to please all consumers, are increasingly including features that let gamers play with or against their friends.

With Microsoft trying to convince people to plunk down $50 a year for its Xbox Live service, and Sony eyeing the sale of movies and music over its fledgling network, developers are under more pressure than ever to include some sort of online component.

The best-known example may be Microsoft's Halo 3, but last week also saw the release of The Orange Box -- a collection of Half-Life 2 content from Electronic Arts that includes a long-awaited multiplayer-only title called Team Fortress 2. The week before that had the launch of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars from Activision.

Yet for all the balanced play and refinement of a Halo 3 or Warhawk, sometimes you just want to dig in and work on a game by yourself.

Several recent and upcoming titles illustrate that solo gaming is still going strong.

Later this month, owners of Sony's PlayStation 3 can get their hands on Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, the latest addition to one of Sony's most popular franchises.

Although some past titles starring the furry protagonist and his robotic sidekick let gamers play against each other, usage data showed something unexpected: only three percent of players bothered to try out that part of the game.

It's something that can appeal to anybody and a lot of people just don't enjoy multiplayer, Brian Allgeier, lead designer on the series, said of the decision to focus on the single-player story.

People think too much in terms of bullet points on the box -- the game's gotta have this or this, Allgeier said.

The new Ratchet game should take some 14 hours to finish on normal difficulty, and includes about 45 minutes of lush, movie-quality scenes that spell out the storyline.

It's very tempting for game developers to want to add to complexity, but we wanted to focus on fun, Allgeier said. We feel the series has really matured and we are doing what we always wanted to do.

In the case of Ratchet multiplayer was scrapped because gamers just don't want it. In other cases, developers don't have the funds or time to do it properly.

A great example of a game that could easily have featured multiplayer but didn't was BioShock, the highly acclaimed shooter from Take-Two.

What was unusual was that critics barely mentioned the absence of multiplayer, a testament to how well the focused investment in the story paid off.

Contrast that with The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, an Xbox game from 2004. Reviewers gushed over the solo mode but dinged it for not offering multiplayer.

We realized early on that it's really hard to do a great single-player game and a great multiplayer game in the same box, said BioShock creator Ken Levine. Being able to focus on single player, we didn't have to make any compromises.

Other games that might appeal to your anti-social side include Folklore, a strangely dark game published by Sony for the PS3 in which you explore various fantasy realms while trying to solve a mystery.

And last month saw the debut of Heavenly Sword, an action game in which you play a young woman fighting back hordes of enemies with a holy blade.

There is no death match in sight for either game.

The irony is that 'BioShock' is the first game we did that didn't do multiplayer and it's by far by far the best-selling, Levine said.