Cast your mind back to just a few years ago. It felt like almost every single game was moving towards multiplayer components in their game. Games that were traditionally single player only now had this multiplayer aspect tacked on. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. Games like Uncharted, which was considered a brilliant single player action adventure experience, had this multiplayer shoot fest included. Tomb Raider did the exact same with its *most awful* multiplayer side of things.
Developers and/or publishers saw multiplayer as adding value to a game. If the main game was a little short, or if there were some gaping holes in it, at least there was some multiplayer action that you could enjoy too, and for the same price. A lot of the time it felt a bit hollow and other times it took away from the single player experience, almost like developers didn’t give the main part its full attention.
It made us wary of future games. I remember receiving the news of The Last of Us multiplayer with great trepidation because of what it might mean for the main game. My fears were allayed somewhat and though I have still never actually tried the multiplayer, I believe it is very good and rather unique. More importantly it didn’t affect the single player section at all.
Fast forward to the present day and I think games are starting to get a better balance between what should have multiplayer and what shouldn’t. Some games counter this with leaderboards which add a competitive edge without ever taking away from the main point of the game. Some games are just leaving out multiplayer completely. It seems Crystal Dynamics learnt from their mistake and the new Tomb Raider won’t have any multiplayer at all. Games like ABZU and No Man’s Sky want you to explore and have it as your own journey (mmmm, Journey which had one of the smartest ways to tackle online multiplayer).
Games like Shadow of Mordor, inFAMOUS, Until Dawn and a few other greats have released without multiplayer at all, while Bloodborne brought it through (apparently) brilliantly, and not totally reliant on the mp aspect at all. Even Destiny seems to have found a way to make the single player component of the game better balanced so that you aren’t missing out if you have no friends.
There are games *looks at Evolve* that still seems to get it quite wrong. That is a very multiplayer focused game and it just feels a little cheap and hollow. I don’t think they realised just how important a single player component is to the game and how badly they needed to make sure the multiplayer was solid so that one wouldn’t miss the single player. It’s not an easy act.
Even my beloved sport games seem to be getting the balance right. NBA’s MyPlayer mode is one of the best, but the online modes are brilliant too. FIFA’s most successful mode, Ultimate Teams, allows you to play online or offline as it were and both are remarkably enjoyable. Their hard work on improving career mode also highlights their focus on gamers sitting alone, playing alone, if they want to. PES is no different as a completely revamped Master League, combined with the MyClub mode means a finer balance there too.
I think it’s a testament to developers that they have seen the value of both single player and multiplayer games. They have listened, somewhat, to the fans, the gamers. They have noticed that a finer balance is needed and that not every game needs to be hidden behind some ‘extra’ value, unless that section is actually worthwhile. Developers shouldn’t be able to get away with including something just for the sake of it. Just so it can say on the box in big letters “WE HAVE MULTIPLAYER TOO”. It’s unnecessary and a lot of the time just a waste, rather focus on the good things and make them as good as can be.
I, personally, have seen a change in this marketing aspect of the gaming industry, and I am thankful for it. But maybe you haven’t? Maybe you think that multiplayer is still included everywhere and shouldn’t be, or maybe you think it is great having that side of things, even if it isn’t ‘that’ good. Either way, share below, I would love to know.