Is in-home multiplayer gaming going to die?

Dec 15, 2013
29

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been hunkered down in my house playing video games. I’ve all but turned my back on previous-generation hardware so I could double down on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and provide reviews where necessary.

While the majority of my time playing new titles has been positive, not everything was great. In fact, one increasingly concerning reality presented itself while I was playing the Xbox One and PS4 that troubles me greatly: in-home multiplayer gaming appears to be one a one-way spiral towards untimely death.

Now, I know I’m not the first person to talk about multiplayer gaming and it’s clear with the popularity of online gaming that few people seem to care that things have changed so drastically. Still, I’m a purist and an old-time gamer. And that means any hint that the old days are gone conjures up some sadness.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend over to check out my PlayStation 4. While we were able to play against each other in every sports game, I was shocked to find that none of the other games I had purchased allowed me the same functionality. Not even Battlefield 4, a game I surely thought would allow for in-house multiplayer, accommodated my desire.

In contrast, as we looked through all of the games running on the PlayStation 4, they were capable of being played online against anyone. So, had my friend been home and owned a PlayStation 4, we could have played each other just as we had wished. It was only in-house that we found we were out of luck.

[aquote]In the old days, playing games with someone in the same room was necessary... and fun[/aquote]

In the old days, playing games with someone in the same room was not only necessary, but also fun. The guys would come over, we’d pick up some pizzas, and play games for hours. It might not have been the most social thing we could have been doing those nights, but it was social nonetheless.

That’s much more than I can say for online gaming. Sure, I can play with my friends online, but what good is that? Being in-person allows for far more interaction, joking around, and all around fun. Playing online with those same friends just isn’t the same.

xbox_one_live_0

From an industry perspective, I get it. Many gamers don’t have the time to get together a group of friends every Friday night, so it’s easier to allow them to get online and play. What’s more, playing online means they might be more likely to buy add-on content and thus pad the developers’ pockets.

I was pleased to see that Call of Duty: Ghosts didn’t fall victim to the growing trend of nixing offline multiplayer for the sake of online. But as anyone who played that feature knows, the real focus of Call of Duty is online. And I can’t help but wonder if offline gaming will be put to rest in that franchise soon enough.

Maybe I’m a relic of the past, a victim of evolution. But as far as I’m concerned, the gaming world would be a better place if developers spent more time building out their offline multiplayer features.


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