The IP Shack #8: 3 Ways Online Multiplayer Might Have Ruined Your Gaming
Now hopefully you didn’t take that headline too literally because most of us actually do rather enjoy a spot of internet ‘noob’ butchering. That being said, the underlying point is a serious one and this isn’t the first time we’ve flagged this up as a discussion point.
The basic question is this: does the bustling, energetic, never completed, never sleeping universe of online killstreaks/deathstreaks/cooperative romances spoil the taste of the offline world? When we say offline we mean games and franchises that don’t slop together a ‘team deathmatch’ for the more ignorant money making schemes of some of our less aware publishers.
Is it difficult to go back to your solitary narrative of Snake, Drake, and something else rhyming with steak after plugging yourself into the wider world of gaming and pitting yourself against the player population in a ridiculously giant competition? A while back we mentioned that some gamers seriously feel that non-online gamers should be retailing at a far lower price simply because the value for money-time investment-thing was totally lopsided.
People can go a buy games like Halo, Black Ops, Killzone, and Burnout for the regular price tag of around $50-60/£30-40 and be safe in thinking each one of them will be able to offer literally hundreds of hours of gameplay if they so choose to dish it out.
Then on the other side of the fence you have brilliantly artistic and fantastically realized offline only titles like Enslaved, Mirror’s Edge, Ratchet And Clank (until now mind you), God Of War, Castlevania, Deus Ex, etc that choose to not sell out and create some trashy pile of virtual recycling and as a consequence find themselves on the second hand shelf rather quickly.
As far as I can see from my own experiences and observations, more and more gamers are buying their gaming dose of multiplayer madness with their hard earned, and renting their more personal narrative driven IPs. Ploughing through them happily for a week, then taking them back to the shop.
Is that right? Obviously I don’t need to explain to any of you that videogames started off in the single player camp and then evolved to LAN sessions before completely exploding into a planet wide obsession of internet usage. In many ways the multiplayer genre has given us so many good things, connectivity, a rapidly growing and increasingly valued social dynamic, healthy competition, extended game life cycles, more content via DLC, mainstream integration, and so much more.
The list I want to put forth, however, is concerned with the ways that Ethernet cable has poisoned the solo gaming experience, without wanting to sound cynical of course. Feel free to counter, double counter, or whatever you feel obliged to do, any of the points, but know this: I love online gaming too. This is just a reflective rant and an ongoing manifestation of curiosity.
1) Turning your cross hair back in the direction of AI enemies simply can’t deliver that sense of satisfaction and achievement that successfully popping a sweet headshot online can. Computer controlled grunts literally can’t compete with the high standard that we almost train ourselves to be able to deal with.
2) Loosing that feeling of connectivity is like being (I imagine) deprived of something you crave very badly. Just because of the way the gaming environment has conditioned players to need to feel ‘in the loop’, we find ourselves feeling like we’re missing out if we’re not even signed into to our online account. It’s a bizarre thing, but it’s so powerful. Motivating yourself to enjoy a game while not being online suddenly feels like a dirty hobby.
3) You become overly sensitive to repetitive gameplay in single player modes, the wonderfully organic and chaotic online universe is constantly dishing out new scenarios with thousands of tiny micro variables within those, playing through a 14 hour campaign can suddenly seem to be regurgitating too many ideas too frequently. Not always though, but it can happen.
So hopefully that will get a few of you thinking about the increasingly large divide. I’ve deliberately kept things slightly briefer because we want to hear what you good folks have to say, and maybe even turn this into a discussion.
Don’t be shy, post a comment, we do read them you know.