I like multyplayer games and single player games, old and new games, short and long games.... i just love games!
We count down to the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a series of features about the issues affecting the future of the games industry.
Multiplayer gaming has been an integral part of the wider gaming experience since the arcade days, taking on a new form with each passing decade and wave of technical innovation. In December last year, EA Games president Frank Gibeau declared that publishers can no longer get away with making games without a multiplayer component; indeed, Gibeau made it clear that games that fail to provide this all-important experience are likely to fail. This statement, bold as it was, echoed the thoughts of the wider industry. In an interview with Forbes magazine in June the same year, Square Enix head Yoichi Wada confirmed that every game that the company made from that point on would include some element of multiplayer or social gaming. Square Enix wasn't the only publisher eager to go down that road. In the past two years, the push toward multiplayer gaming has led publishers, developers, and consumers to rethink the way in which video games are both made and played. Ubisoft introduced multiplayer for the first time in its Assassin's Creed franchise; Valve launched co-op in Portal 2; Warner Brothers hinted at including multiplayer in future Batman games; and Sony has begun hiring programmers for what could be a multiplayer God of War game.
So where is multiplayer headed? Does it really stand true that games offering only single-player experiences are a thing of the past? Or are developers looking to create a more seamless experience between the two? To find out, GameSpot spoke to some of the biggest names in the industry today, including John Romero, Ubisoft's Patrick Redding, developers Harmonix and Activision's Call of Duty team.
Why We Play Together
When industry heavyweights like Frank Gibeau say that video games can no longer get away with offering just a single-player experience, they are also echoing the demands of the market. This ever-changing and ever-growing market is united by a common goal: entertainment. Video games, above all else, have to be fun. This is the reason why multiplayer not only makes sense as a gaming experience, but it's also the reason why more than one type of multiplayer experience has found success. People like to have fun with other people, whether it is in person or online.
But the benefits of playing together go far beyond making a great gaming experience. Nick Yee and Nic Ducheneaut are two researchers working as part of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) PlayOn project, which is focused on the study of social dynamics in multiplayer games. Using Web surveys, lab experiments, and data mining from games like World of Warcraft, Yee and Ducheneaut have looked at the social interactions between players, from examining players who fall in love online to what it means to be a guild leader. Analyzing the unique forms of social behavior that can happen in online games, Yee and Ducheneaut's research led them to discover that even though massively multiplayer online games are designed to encourage intense group interactions through raids and quests, it is more intimate sociability that keeps players interested in playing. This includes chatting with guild mates while grinding crafting materials, watching others perform fun tasks in the main cities, and the like. For some players, simply feeling part of a world inhabited by other human beings was enough. Based on their research, Yee and Ducheneaut have begun to develop tools to help game designers monitor social activity in online worlds.
With every game having its own sensibility when it comes to multiplayer, Yee and Ducheneaut have split the experience into three categories: a) games that are simply meant to be played with someone nearby, like Mario Kart; b) games that allow players to engage in a match-making system, like Halo or Call of Duty; and c) persistent virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft.
"I want to be provocative and flip the question around and suggest that perhaps it is the games that are making relationships more salient and important," Yee says. "As a simple example of this concept, Farmville makes your friends more relevant and important because of the game mechanisms of gifting and helping. In the same way, World of Warcraft uses grouping and high-end raiding as a social means to satisfy game-related goals. Would playing games together be equally enjoyable if you could kill the dragon bosses by yourself? Certainly there are social players, but its equally important to keep in mind that game architecture also plays a crucial role in making people want to play with each other."
"I think playing games together simply makes your accomplishments in them more rewarding and more meaningful," Ducheneaut adds. "Nobody would care about wearing an epic set of armor if there were no one around to see it! Ted Castronova, a well-known game researcher, said that the presence of other people in online games validates emotions, and I think thats exactly whats going on: Doing something in the presence of other people who share the same interests and objectives makes it much more attractive."
This exhibitionist quality has also been observed by developers, who often focus test multiplayer experiences before a game's launch. Patrick Redding, game director at Ubisoft Toronto, is often amazed at how big of a role social skills play as a mechanism for negotiation in multiplayer games when he is observing focus tests. He believes game designers need to give players more autonomy in multiplayer, requiring them to use individual social skills to form a collective agency (in the case of co-op) and effectively overcome challenges. For example, observing player behavior in Splinter Cell: Conviction multiplayer, Redding found that players realized quickly that they have a better chance of beating the game if they work together. In this way, players working together are more likely to take risks and try things that they wouldn't have tried if they were playing single-player.
"Prior to recent years, the attitude was that single-player was different from multiplayer, and in fact, there was an implicit distinction between people who liked single-player (solitary, time-intensive) and people who liked multiplayer (mechanics-focused, living in the dynamics, doesn't care about the fiction of the game)," Redding says. "What's happened now is we've arrived at a new generation of players who want complexity and depth in both single-player and multiplayer. It has become socially acceptable to want this."
I like both SP and MP, as long as they are both well done. With PSN down for so long I really like having a decent SP experience.
I feel that a key mechanic of future online multiplayer experiences should involve deep involvement in story development, I am focusing on both online action games like call of duty, battlefield, halo etc and also on persistent worlds aka world of warcraft, rift, star wars the old republic. People enjoy stories, and to be able to exist and participate in a story's development will be key to whether people enjoy and want to participate in the game. Being able to actively create your own ever changing environment and be able to witness the cause and effect of your actions within the game world will in my opinion make for a much more involving experience. Bethesda and Bioware are two companies that seem to have taken note of this. I am an older gamer having grown with the industry since the days of Pong. What we are witnessing now points to a very exciting future in online gaming and if the games publishers get to understand the needs of good story telling, good immersive graphics production and of course good gameplay mechanisms then I feel sure we will see something special and I for one cannot wait.
Multiplayer has a unique aspect A.I. just can't accomplish, direct interaction and unpredictability. Till HAL 2000 can think and respond like any human, multiplayer will definately be king to any games criteria Also, I was one of those kids last to be picked for a team in school. Multiplayer allows anyone that games the same chance as the next guy whethher he is disabled, obese or just plain ugly, to join a team and prove him/herself. In these cash strapped times, pay to play is a stretch or even unavailable to some loyal gamers. I was hooked into the Blizzard franchise for over 3 years . After the purchase, fees and upgrades totaling up to be too costly to justify any game, I will not pay to play ever again.
First my English is not so good but i realy want to live a commet :) I think that games should have the option for MP but i would never want to miss those great single player RPG with the great story. After i am done i wouldn't mind play some MP.
@SLRMC93 Im with you on that man. I remember as a kid with my N64 playing 4player 007 with my friends all on a little 19in screen. We had a blast, now I wanna play some shooters with 3 buddys on my new 52 in tv.
Now take Co-Op. I can much easier understand the love for Co-Op than competitive MP, and i donīt even touch Co-Op, which is not true about competitive MP, i play MP from time to time (a long time to time). There is a story in Co-Op, there is a reason in Co-Op, but the thing is, and i talk for personal experience, i donīt have any gaming friends nor do i plan to, i actually have a life outside the walls in my house. Like myself, there are thousands that feel the same way. A gamer is not a siamise twin, i wasnīt born with a friend attached at the hip, so, to actually make games with a buddy in mind doesnīt make much sense, video games are not the friendship hotline nor does the retail version of a game comes with a friend inside the box. But that is just one of the problems about Co-Op, the other....when in Co-Op, gaming is no more than an excuse to be together. Sure, there might actually be people that play the game "for real", but the majority use the game to be together, and talk about the women (or men), sports, movies, whatever, but the game is the least of their problems. And then you go about the game, skip the cutscenes, choose to go to the left insted of the right because there are more enemies, with no regard to the story or characters....like i said, Co-Op is just a sorry excuse to the together. If i was a game developer, i would want gamers to actually care about the game and be immersed on it.
Iīm going to be really honest and say that MP is by far the worst thing about video games, and i do like MP from time to time, but this push for MP is not only moronic, it goes agains the essence of what a video game is. What is a video game? A video game is the blend between gameplay and storyline, case close. Of course thatīs not the dictionary definition, but that is the heart and soul of what is a video game. Without that, video games would have died a long time ago. Imagine a world without Mario, Link, Master Chief, Kratos, Gordon Freeman, Duke Nukem, Lara Croft, Nathan Drake.....imagine that and tremble. All those characters exist because of the story in games, because of the storyline. Take Halo for example, one of the most recognizable "MP" games out there, but Halo exists because of the story, because Master Chief, Cortana and the war agains the Covenant, without that, the series would be long dead. Look at Red Dead Redemption.... RDR had MP, and a good one at that, and the game got a lot of awards last years and none of them was because there was MP, no one in their right mind played and love the game because there was MP, people played and loved the game because of John Marstonīs story. Bottom line, without SP, video games would have been long dead by now
Games started out as singleplayer and eventually along came multiplayer options. The true essence of a SP game is lost on MP. We play games to take us away from the world we're in to have a break or for many other reasons. Multiplayer games tend to focus on fast paced action with little or no coordination of players. Some MP games lend themselves to organized play like the Battlefield series but that only comes from communities and clans that make the effort, without these you can pretty much play online without interaction with anyone else which a lot of people do. The main aim of this play is to build levels and stats for basically bragging rights. Communities and clans make the game more immersive and truly a multiplayer experience. It's a shame to see some games heading down the No Modding route which makes it difficult for clans and communities to implement a good MP experience. I remember the days of BF2 in a community that had 64 players per side with organized objectives this was truly what MP should be. I also think MP has been dumbed down in a lot of games. Capture a flag, arm a bomb, etc. When are they going to make a MP game that can have more dynamic objectives - destroy a bridge that prevents enemy troop movements in latter games. A dynamic mapping and campaign system that allows admins/creators to make their own maps and link them together to create a campaign that two teams can fight and strategize over.
@13Skulls It's called practise getting use to the map... Just like swimming you wouldn't go into the deep end first if you didn't have to.
I'm all for multiplayer in games - whichever titles they may be - as long as the development of the multiplayer aspect does not affect the quality of its single player. Games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion offer superb single player experiences.. but sometimes I could use a friend while traversing these vast worlds. A lot of single player enthusiasts will disagree and continue that any multiplayer modes will ruin the game but that's if it's not done right. I still very much enjoyed Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's single player and its multiplayer. If the new God of War's single-player is fantastic while still offering very innovative multiplayer then those whom prefer the single player don't have to touch the multiplayer while those of us that prefer some multiplayer in our games have a chance to do so. If White Knight Chronicles was only single player I would not have invested the time I had now. The single player was good (personal opinion) but after beating it I probably wouldn't have gone back to the game. The multiplayer allowed me to team up with friends or even strangers to take on quests and improve my town. What I'm getting it is if the multiplayer is done right then it does not degrade the quality of the single player and now we have two options for play. One, I repeat, for those us that enjoy playing with people and one for those that would rather enjoy the experience by themselves.
@JimB I guess you have adapted well to the fact the Playstation Notwork is not working, good for you! Hopefully their will be some surprises at this E3 and HOPEFULLY the PSN will be up and running soon.
IDK Bayonetta was the boss and it was one player, but two player would probably still kick ass, two b***... i mean witchs, must make more gritty fun chaos.
I never play MP it is just not my thing. What I don't like is the fact that two rpg's I have played and enjoyed are coming out as on line MP only, Never-winter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic. I have been playing video games for forty years starting with Pong. My friends and I get together and play Magic or Axis and Allies when we want to socialize. I would have like to have played Guild Wars but it was MP only I believe games should have both SP and MP.
A good point to note is that not all multiplayer aspects are actually playing together. Even something as simple as stat comparisons can add this interaction. Think of all the fan sites and other reviews that people put in to a game like Oblivion. Adding towards that only makes sense since there is such a broad fan base for such things.
It usualy depends what type of game it is, I would play a FPS with other people but not a game like Dead Space
@nyran125 you make valid points on your last post. As long as they still gives us these games like Fallout i will be very happy. I do like MP though but not all the time.
ok so why is bestheda games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion and SKYRIM and even Crysis eventually sold from 87'000 - 3 million copies over thenext few years after release, just on its single player alone. The reason is because BESTHEDA make AWESOME single player games. Half life 2...Even Left 4 Dead is an interesting and different experience solo player than MP. Borderlands would drive me crazy if it didnt have a single player way of playing it. Because id miss out on the emmersion and story completely and just be running around with other people looting and rushing and rushing and looting without stopping to enjoy the world they created. Which you can only really do in single player game mode. If single player gaming goes completely , i dont think id get the enjoyment out of gaming anymore. Splinter cell teh orignal splinter cells were AWESOME single player games, same with PORTAL. get rid of the SP mode and all you have left is having to team up with another person just to enjoy the game. What a crap gaming world that is. Even World of Warcraft you can do a lot by yourself if you want to. How could you possibly enjoy the FULL story and beautiful world in BIOSHOCK just running around with other players just wanting to grab plasmids and get better loot over and over adn over and over again without giving a damn about the awesome world the developers created? Im one of those STOP and smell the flowers gamers, and you cant do that in multiplayer gaming. Because most of the time its too competitive, so its more about yoru rewards or achievements or your killcount or your loot. Thats not what i like about games like BIOSHOCK or even Rome total War where i can pace myself and enjoy the entire game and world around me and play the game at my own pace, slow or fast. you cant do that in Multiplayer. Because its not fair on the people that your playing waiting for thier turn etc. If the future is MP only, then it needs to have MP only but can still be played Single player if you want, otherwise gaming is going to just become just a rushfest with loads of upgrades and rewards and nothing else to make people like me interested in the emmersion of it. Games like Bioshock/Oblivion/Skyrim/fallout 3 wont exist and thats a horrible gaming world i dont want to live in. I dont want a gaming world where its co-op , multiplayer or nothing. Wheres its Counterstrike and World of warcraft and Battlfield 3 or nothing, Or TotalWar with others or nothing.
I think games that have little depth should not have a competitive side in the multiplayer.... [talking about the shooters as of late] But games with depth and challenge should definitely have competitive multiplayer [talking about something like Starcraft 2 or MvC3 and Mortal Kombat] Only to eliminate trash talking from people who go and say "BLACK OPS > BEST GAME EVAR BECAUSE MORE PPL PLAY IT" =]
The way I feel about most multiplayer is that if I wanted to play with someone, I would do it in real life. When I play video games, I just want to be alone. I guess this is why I like the Wii the most out of the three consoles.
sometimes multiplayer is forcedly added because its says that the game sells more and will last more time but multiplayer does not fit for many genres or games like rpg IMO
I rarely ever play multiplayer games. If I do, it is only for a short time and usually almost always online MMORPG
I have to play multiplayer games, because my wife wants to play too. I'm the market for local co-ops. Resident evil 5, army of two, gears of war, Halo and the up and coming Hunted. They're perfect for us. If only Dragon age or Oblivion had a multiplayer option...
I think that multiplayer its important for video games in todays days, In this few days that the PSN is down, i havent been playing any games. No friends to play and chat, since most PS3 games that i have are 1 player in single and no CO-OP or party games... So the online mode its the only thing that joins friends after dinner or on some free time at home. But the Single Player should never be left behind, because there people that love to play and dont have any internet connection ...
I still dont think that multiplayer is that important to games. Its more about replayability than the actually multiplayer. Multiplayer is just one way to add to this.
How do you get any real satisfaction killing bots. There is much more of an adrenaline rush when you are challenged by a actual human being on the other side of the weapon.
@Infinity_Gauntl: I can't say I agree that being social is a bad thing. Nonetheless I agree with you that the entire industry needs to keep in mind that there are people out there who like single player gaming more than multiplayer(i happen to be one of them - i especially hate pvp). I feel that if developers and publishers want to include both functions in their games, there's really nothing wrong with it. My concern, nowadays, is more towards the actual quality of certain games that were released recently. Take Dragon Age 2 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. I enjoyed playing both of them but couldn't help but feel they were a little rushed. I was particularly annoyed the ACB for the disaster Ubisoft managed to cause with matchmaking for multiplayer. The bottom line is, if you're going to include multiplayer, at least do it right.
@ToughCritic28: i'm inclined to agree with you friend. multiplayer gaming may not be the ideal for everyone but one has to give credit where it's due. i've played both WoW & CoD and I can acknowledge that multiplayer gaming, where used properly can require great commitment but is not without its benefits. I still occasionally speak to my WoW mates from other countries because in some cases genuine friendships develop. At the same time I don't want to neglect the fact that online play tends to be a bit of a gamble from a social perspective because some games are just there for people to let off steam *cough* CoD *cough. Now i'm not saying this is a bad thing but a game between 10 guys at the end of a long (and oft times boring) day, don't exactly make for the most pleasantly sociable experiences. Nonetheless, I personally feel that as gamers we need to be open minded towards each others' preferences. Just because I like RPGs and someone else might like strategy or FPS, it doesn't mean any of us is, or ought to feel, superior to another. At our core we're still gamers and identify ourselves as such. I greatly applaud Nintendo's efforts to reach a wider demographic through the Wii. It was about time that the industry reached outside the normal demographic and they did a great job. The Wii was and I believe still is the best selling console of all time from all generations. At least, we need to acknowledge that multiplayer does have some of the market demand under its control.
Why oh why has this world become so freakin social. I admit I like some Multiplayer games but there are a lot of the that I just want to play on my own. I think its really sad to see people on Facebook....I think its more for kids and simple minded people but I realize multiplayer gaming is more indeph ... I just hope that it doesn't start dictating which games get made.
"Nobody would care about wearing an epic set of armor if there were no one around to see it!" you are so correct .
@ToughCritic28 I'm going to have to disagree with you there. The reason games are moving towards an emphasis on multiplayer is because publishers primarily look at sales figures for games. They want to maximize profit. If you're a publisher, you're looking at CoD and saying, "Well, this game is selling like crazy, so let's have a game like that." This is terrible. What's starting to happen now is that you've got developers with great ideas for games that are being forced to slap on multiplayer components for the sole purpose of satisfying the sales target. This puts them in an extremely unfavorable position. If they don't listen to the publisher, their project could be passed on, possibly negating years of work and effort. If they do listen, part of the game's quality may suffer due to adding an unnecessary component. This does not mean multiplayer is bad in itself, though, especially if done right: I have had great times with multiplayer in the past: Burnout Paradise, Team Fortress 2 and Halo have all been a blast for me to play. But that's online with people you don't generally know. Publishers seem to be focused on online MP, and putting that in front of single player, co-op and local multiplayer. Despite my days of playtime in Halo: Reach, that will never compare to the fun I got playing with friends and family in Smash Bros. Melee. We need more titles like Portal, Heavy Rain, L.A. Noire, and Limbo to do well to show that you don't always have follow the leader to succeed.
I totally agree with the conclusion of this article. It would be cool for games like GTA and Red Dead to have not a Single player Campaign and Multiplayer modes that are based on the same map, but somehow integrate both into one big social gaming experience without detracting from the fun of a campaign. Also if they could somehow connect console games to Facebook leader boards, I'm pretty sure console games would become that much more popular.
@ToughCritic28 - indeed and it's possible I'm in a minority but so far I have 7 to 1 with me based on thumbs up and down :P I personally play a lot of racing games and I like to have a lengthy career first ( OK so GT5 and Forza 3 took that to an extreme ) before venturing on-line. I do enjoy a few races on line but SP remains the most important thing to me!
I agree with most of you, I don't see th point on getting a game only for the multiplayer, where is the history behind the game, where does it ends, multiplayer is a great addition to the game but I believe is should be that, only a good addition not the main focus of the game.
What bothers me about this whole issue is that most people on these forums somehow see multiplayer gamers as inferior or casual. Multiplayer can be an extremely engaging experience that requires gamers to cooperate in order to succeed. The reason why many games are moving towards an emphasis on multiplayer is because there is such a high demand for it! I believe there are certain games, such as shooters, that simply play better in multiplayer. And although it's cliche`d quoting the Most Dangerous Game, "Man is the most dangerous game" (not AI) @SadPSPAddict I think there are about 10,000,000 CoD players that would disagree with you, and about 10,000,000 WoW players that would disagree with you.
Shigeru Miyamoto said Nintendo intentionally did not include online multiplayer for Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort because they wanted to encourage multi-player in the physical space. I know everyone who's played online multiplayer games have witnessed some bizarre, borderline behavior.
"Gibeau made it clear that games that fail to provide this all-important experience (multiplayer) are likely to fail." Enter: Skyrim.
The irritating thing is when multiplayer is junk or excluded on titles that seems perfect for it. Horde on the PSP is a great example, whats the use for a fun simple multiplayer title like this if you force buyers to just play with computers? And agreed RE5 took so much from the fomula that it just didn't feel inspired enough to be a complete, entertaining game. I want to say Rule 1 would be: Never put games into acts and stages. The best way to take someone out of the fun is by making it feel predictable and set up.
I still love my single player games, Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed series, God of War Series, Heavy Rain, etc. just would not have been the same with someone else in the gamespace. Resident Evil is fun multiplayer but I still feel it lost some of its luster by adding it. As for the Assassins Creed multiplayer, it was fun for a bit but I still play the single player regularly. I like multiplayer games but I hate when its not fleshed out and just tacked on.
I still feel single player is the core of my experience in a game. At the end of the day, multiplayer is only about as enjoyable as the people you play it with. I've played a substantial amount of Halo online, but just about everyone acts terribly, so any hope of connecting with anybody is lost in a sea of profanity and disrespect. At it's best, a single-player game really communicates the vision of the developer. Look no further than Retro Studios' work with Metroid Prime, Valve with Half-Life and Portal, Rockstar with Red Dead Redemption, and others. What would Prime be without the wonderfully lonely exploration? Portal without the razor-sharp writing and line delivery? RDR without John Marston? Multiplayer can be fun, but at least for me, it's the solo experience that sticks in my memory. As for Co-Op, it's great when it works well, but it does not always turn out that way.
SP is a dead narrative. Either revive it or let it merge into the online genre. Single player open world AAGs or open world RPGs or open choice* (DA:2) storytelling is absolutely dead. I never want to herd cows, shoot muggers, or save an alienage simply because some NPC (ala MMO style) has told me to do such task so I can proceed to the next quest hub/quest NPC. That's is the lamest storytelling ever. That's the story I play over and over and over again in MMO's. So FIX YOUR STORIES, because I refuse to play a single player game where I feel the grind has less incentive than that of an MMO. In an MMO all you're achievements are there proudly for all players to see. In SP (if you're an achievement ****) you have the means of PSN, Live, or Steam to promote yourself and your platinum achievements. Who cares? Maybe your friends and family who didn't play the game? Anyway, this was a great read. If RDR was an MMO... minus the ending... the formula fits.
I agree with most of you, while Multiplayer is awesome, its a shame that some developers think it should be more important than single player, which degrades from buying it for that purpose. Same goes for Local Multiplayer, Wii is pretty much full of Single Player games that dont care TOO much about Multiplayer, or doesnt have it *Cough*Metroid Prime*Cough*, and has game that rely on Local(DKCR) instead of multiplayer for Co-op
@Thunderstarter Mass effect 3 would be great if there was 4 player co-op...that would work well but not as MP.
I would never buy a game because of the multiplayer. If the focus on multiplayer takes the ever decreasing single player experience too far I for one will skip those games. We are already seeing watered down SP in games like the later CODs and the most recent MotorStorm when compared to earlier games in the franchises! Shame really because although MP is important SP is far far far more so!