Is online multiplayer truly necessary for this industry to thrive or is it leading us down a dark forbidden road? That is the question that has been running amok in my mind for these past few years. Since the unofficial announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, I have begun to lose faith in the idea of a decent multiplayer experience.
Like everything else in this world, the multiplayer scene started out small. One of its first contributors was a tiny title by the name of Doom; a game in 1993 that swept the masses with its first person shooter mechanic and brand new online death match mode. From there, games such as Unreal Tournament and Quake came into existence; millions of people around the world sat with their friends on their computers and faced off against one another in online combat and it was glorious.
On November 15, 2001 Bungie released its juggernaut Halo for the Xbox. This was the game that truly started it all. Instead of battling each other on individual computers, people were sitting around a television screen with four boxes. Although Halo took many of its ideas from games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, it set the standard for how a multiplayer game should be played in the years to come.
After raising the bar with the success that was Halo, Microsoft urged Bungie to produce a second Halo. Except this time, Microsoft wanted Halo 2 to come packaged with an online portion that was compatible with its new service Xbox Live. Halo 2 was a success and online titles have constantly been churned out to this very day.
Now here lies the problem. Back then, online gaming was a gift and people felt privileged to even acquire an online portion with their latest purchase. Now, people expect the multiplayer portion to come bundled in with their game and it is taken for granted by whiny children. It is not their fault though, because it is what they were born into. This leads to what has made Xbox Live infamous, the foul mouthed children who hurl constant abuse at their fellow gamers.
Before online gaming was popular, it was free to play. There was no “online pass.” People could go online and play Halo 2 with their friends for hours on end without the worry of having an online pass.
These days almost every game comes packaged with an online pass; even the single player titles. The craze began with Uncharted 2 in 2009 and in 2012 the online pass finally reached God of War, a game that does not even need a multiplayer component to be successful. I honestly think that if companies continue to kick gamers around with these price hikes for online passes, people may eventually strike back.
Now back to the question: Is online multiplayer truly necessary for the gaming industry to succeed? My answer is that there is no real answer. I would say yes because without multiplayer Xbox Live and the PSN wouldn’t be in existence. There would be no downloadable titles and incredible games such as FEZ and Journey would not exist.
The reason I say would no is because single player games are still in style. Many people prefer going solo as opposed to playing on a team in the middle of a digitized battlefield. Skyrim is one of those games that a person can put 80 hours into whilst in seclusion. Those who think that the single player experience is in dead need of a reality check.
Multiplayer may not be a necessity for me, but for others it is a way of life. Hopefully in the future the industry will straighten itself out and stop looking to steal the money from our pockets; or maybe not. Here’s to another good year in gaming.
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