The question that is cropping up more and more at the moment is whether games that can offer organic long term value through online multiplayer, are destined to be given a heavier price tag in the future. Obviously videogames have been flirting with multiplayer modes for decades, but in the past couple of years we’ve seen the industry really starting to enthusiastically embrace the medium of online play.
You can see some of the early effects of this growing culture when you see how the prices of single player only games are being cut down massively after barely a month of release. Publishers are cramming team deathmatch and CTF into any game they can, in hopes that it will help increase the shelf life of their titles.
The underlying question is whether we feel you can materially compare the limitless depth a game like Uncharted will provide via multiplayer mayhem, with the narrative fantasy immersing experience something like Batman: Arkham City will give you. I think a lot of people recognize and understand that single player games still have a huge production value and the publishers need to make their money back and profit in order to feasibly fund a sequel.
The fact of the matter is though that the way games like Call Of Duty and Halo completely saturate every gaming household on the face of the planet, this question of value is already being answered by sales figures. How long before something shifts to accommodate this obvious demand?
The options are twofold: either the games with online modes will take a price rocket up their rear ends and start costing more (but worth considering whether high quality DLC is the most kosher business model for publishing giants), or single player games like God Of War, Castlevania and Heavy Rain will start launching at a lower price point in order to still compete with the multiplayer canon.
Hypothetically if the second option were to come true, would this then affect the length and quality of single player games? Despite the popular rise of ‘worldwide gun theatres’, I have a huge amount of faith in the videogame narrative and the stories it can tell.
Some cynics argue that multiplayer will eventually smash apart the solo games, but I think gamers enjoy the variety and freshness that games like L.A. Noire, Portal 2 and Mass Effect can offer. Maybe pricing will be mixed up a bit, but I don’t believe for a second that multiplayer will ever replace the single player experience.
Thoughts folks? Do find you rent most of your single player games and save your hard earned for the stuff with multiplayer?