Written by Andre McEachrane Thursday, 17 November 2011 19:32
It wasn’t too long ago that a multiplayer mode was rumored for Mass Effect 3, and as of about a month ago that rumor came true. For some came excitement but for others, including myself, came a groan of disappointment.
Now I'm not huge multiplayer player in the first place. There are those few games that I will play for a couple weeks after they come out like Halo and Gears of War, and then just be done with until whenever I randomly feel like playing a few rounds again. But with other games I will just play a few matches, if any at all, just to see what it's like and most likely never return to it again. I'd rather just play a single player game.
Halo, Call of Duty, Gears and Battlefield, are some of the games that I have come to expect to have a multiplayer mode in it and very well done one at that. It's when a game like a Mass Effect, a Dead Space or an Assassin's Creed which I know for their great single player portions are getting a multiplayer mode that make me cringe. Adding a versus mode to a single player focused game is something developers have to been doing recently to have another bullet point on the back of the box and to prolong the time gamers keep their game.
One of the biggest threats to the sale of video games is the used game business started mainly by EB Games, now Gamestop. Companies like Electronic Art and Activision will usually make a bunch of money off of the first sale of their games, but when gamers finish the campaign and find no downloadable content coming or anything else to do on the disc they sell it back to help fund their next purchase. All of the money made from the sale of a used game goes completely to the store, with none of it going back to the publisher or developer. So to help get people to keep their games longer the addition of multiplayer in everything was started but of course not everyone puts as much thought or effort into it.
Bioshock 2 and Dead Space 2 are just two recent games that standout as games that didn’t need multiplayer. The main draw for those games we're always their single player campaigns and adding an unnecessary multiplayer mode that not a ton of people even played for very long seemed like wasted time that could have been better spent on the single player or other aspects of the game.
Obviously competitive multiplayer isn’t always the answer; luckily I’m not the only one to noticed. Co-operative and wave based modes like Gears’ Horde and Halo’s Firefight are usually entertaining and don’t require as much thought as creating an interesting versus modes, though a little innovation is always nice. Downloadable content is another option to extending the longevity of a game. Though some may complain about the price tag to each piece of content (not everyone can be Valve) they do continue to sell decently most of the time if it’s worth the cost.
Assassin’s Creed is one of those few games in the middle category. After playing the first two games in the series multiplayer was never really something I thought necessary at all. Then when Brotherhood came out with its kind of new take on the standard deathmatch it turned out to be really fun. The gameplay was different and stressful (but in a good way) and you never knew where an enemy would come from unless they were one of those idiots running around. That’s the kind of multiplayer I’m cool with seeing even though it doesn’t get me to get playing it for very long.
Unless you’re going into creating a multiplayer mode to compete with Modern Warfare, with a plan for updates and add-ons in the long run, then go ahead. If it’s just to have another bullet-point to throw on the back of the box then why bother. All of the time spent on developing that throw away mode could be better spent on the single player portions or on DLC which could also prolong the time a buyer keeps their game for.
We probably won’t see an end to unwanted multiplayer modes in games for a while unless something happens with the way used games are handled. Devs are going to keep finding ways to get people to keep their games, which is a good thing, there just needs to be a better way that doesn’t sacrifice other parts of a game.
One day we will finally have really awesome internet speeds better bandwidth which will finally give publishers the ability to just sell all games digitally without having to worry about them being sold back. But until then we’ll have to endure whatever they think is a good idea to get you to keep your games. Or of course there’s always just not supporting the used market, but like that’s going to happen.