The State of Gaming: Multiplayer

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Sorry for my tardiness in getting this out. This week was way busier than I planned for, and my blogging schedule got lost in it all. But here it is, the fourth entry into my State of Gaming series. This week, I breakdown one of the biggest aspects of gaming: multiplayer. Is it a valid way of extending a game’s shelf life, or an unnecessary addition?

Just a heads up, this is an opinion piece, so don’t feel like I’m saying my way is the only way. But instead, let me show you how I see the online gaming community as it is.

Ever since the dawn of gaming, multiplayer has existed. Even in arcades there were at times two screens to allow for competitive or cooperative play. On the classic gaming consoles multiplayer existed solely as a ‘couch’ experience, with two or more people playing together or against each other.

But now, in 2013, multiplayer is perhaps the biggest thing gaming has going for it. It allows gamers to play with other like-minded individuals from all over the world in hectic, often vulgar, competitions.

In some games, such as the ever powerful Call of Duty, multiplayer makes up the game’s primary mode of playing. While in other games it’s just an extension of the campaign/story mode of the game, such as in the Uncharted series.

Other times though, multiplayer is a shoe-horned in experience that only detracts from the overall product in a vain attempt at appealing to the multiplayer crowd.

And that’s where things go terribly wrong.

I have nothing against multiplayer games. While I prefer playing solo, multiplayer is something I greatly enjoy playing with friends from time to time. What keeps me away from the multiplayer portion of some games is what drives other people to it. And that’s other people.

Sometimes this is exactly how I want to play a game.

Often times when playing online with strangers, they rob me of loot or points, deliberately act like jerks, and curse and scream like arrogant little children. It’s really not fun.

Not being a very competitive person, I lose interest in leveling up my online character when the only incentive in leveling up is to brag about it to my peers, and with arrogant John McClane wanna-bes around every corner, there isn’t much that keeps me coming back to it.

However, I can’t deny the addictive, and enjoyable qualities of online multiplayer. Sometimes, whilst playing with dumb middle-schoolers who act like they just discovered curse words, I’ll come across someone who is fun to play with both cooperatively and competitively.

And when that happens, multiplayer becomes awesome. Someone who plays just to play and have fun, and not to rub their victories in your face, is a rare but exciting gift.

Like I said above, a lot of the time (but I cannot stress enough that this is not always the case) online gamers will use their anonymity to act like ‘tough-guys’ by screaming dumb insults and performing totally crude in-game expressions as childish taunts. And that stuff drives me crazy.

(Insert stupid, victory insult here)

While not everyone’s online experience is like this, it’s been mine enough that I tend to keep my gaming as either a solo affair or a cooperative experience.

And that brings me to my next point: does every game need an online multiplayer mode? In my opinion, the answer is simply both yes and no.

Multiplayer can indeed add shelf-life to certain games when implemented right (I’ve heard the Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect games have done this), but sometimes it’s only a waste of money and resources that could’ve been used to make other aspects of the game even better.

Adding a mulitplayer component to a game isn’t always a bad thing however. The upcoming reboot of Tomb Raider (which I am very excited for) is implementing a multiplayer component, but it’s being developed by a studio other than Crystal Dynamics, which means no resources are being taken from what is bound to be a great single-player experience.

Even though I’ll probably only dabble in the multiplayer for my review, other people may very well love playing online in that game, and that’s great. Anything that gets more people interested in a good game is a plus for me; as long as it’s developed fully and implemented in a way that makes sense.

Does Tomb Raider need multiplayer? Probably not; but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is this: multiplayer is a big, no, a huge part of gaming today. Love it, hate it, it’s most likely here to stay. While not every game should have multiplayer (indeed, some games flat-out should not have it), it can extend the life of a given title, which is almost always a good thing.

I just finished the story for Borderlands 2 last night, and you know what, I’m nowhere near done with that game. I plan on playing all the remaining side-missions, and meeting up with some online friends while I’m at it. A prime example of multiplayer extending a game’s life.

So yes, multiplayer can be a good thing. And it can also be a bad thing. Or it can fall somewhere in between.

What are your thoughts? Should every game have multiplayer, or should developers go the way Irrational has gone with BioShock: Infinite and not use any form of online multiplayer? Leave a comment with your thoughts, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Next week, in the final entry in this blogging series, I break down the controversial used game debate. Look for it on Wednesday, unless I get attacked by zombie fanboys, in which case it may be a bit delayed.

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4 responses to “The State of Gaming: Multiplayer

  1. Great write up again. I agree completely that well done multiplayer does nothing but add to the experience of a game. The trouble is, like you’ve discovered, finding someone that wants to play the way you do. That is a rare thing, and when you find it, treasure it.

    Not all games need it, though, and that’s something I wish publishers would figure out. Mass Effect 3’s MP was great, and I enjoyed it while I waited for a real ending. The trouble is that ME shouldn’t need MP to add longevity. I played ME2 on and off for over a year. If ME3 had’ve had an actual ending that fit the series in any way shape or form, I can’t imagine that I would have ever touched the MP mode. I wouldn’t have had to. I’d still be running my fourth character through single player on Insanity, instead of basically throwing the game on the shelf once the “extended cut” ending launched.

    Now you’ve got me worked up about ME3 again…

    Seriously interested in the next entry, and your level-headed take on it… The fact that there is even a debate about used games boggles my mind to the point of rage.

    • Thanks! Glad you liked it. It’s very rare for me to find someone who plays like I do online, and in fact, I’m just now starting to get over my distaste of multiplayer and have actually found a few good gamers out there. Sorry to put salt on your ME wound by the way. Haha! I’m excited about next week’s post, and really hope it turns out great. Thanks for reading! 😀

  2. I like it sometimes when a game doesnt worry about multiplayer. Some Games like FIFA are meant to be played online, but games like Far Cry, Assassins Creed, whilst the online is a nice touch, I could take it or leave it and would prefer to just enjoy the single player campaign 🙂

    • I totally agree. For some games it adds to the experience, but for others, it’s already so good that it doesn’t need anything else. Thanks for the comment Tyson!

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