Since 2004, I have been a fan of playing video games online. Microsoft and Bungie brought Xbox Live into the mainstream with the release of the excellent Halo 2. As someone who was used to getting together with friends to experience multiplayer game modes, using Xbox Live for the first time was an unforgettable experience. Most of my closest friends (who I only saw on the weekends) weren’t able to get together during the school week to destroy other Spartans in the battlefield.
We still get together, but most of our game time is spent on Xbox Live. While some people view online gaming as an antisocial activity, I think it’s quite the opposite. As an adult, life gets in the way. I work all day and then come home to unwind. Between traveling home, cooking/picking up dinner, catching up on a TV show or two, and writing for Xbox Enthusiast, there isn’t much time to get together with my friends who also have similar schedules. I usually sleep around 1 AM and meet up with my Rainbow Six: Siege crew at 10:30 PM, giving us two and a half hours to play a few ranked matches.
My Xbox games library is pretty massive. Between Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, I have 400 games in my collection. While a majority of them are single-player, there are a handful of titles that feature multiplayer components. Unfortunately, a lot of them are local only. Some of my favorite Xbox One games with local multiplayer are Death Squared, Overcooked, Kalimba, Chariot, and Crypt of the Necrodancer. As I mentioned before, due to busy schedules, most of my friends can’t get together to play games in person. Overcooked is one of the most fun games I’ve played in recent memory. My family’s video game interest is limited and my attempts to get them to play the hectic title have resulted in failure. I have talked to my friends about a few of the games that I listed above and they are intrigued by some of them. If Overcooked and Death Squared had online multiplayer, I would be playing them a lot more than I do at the moment. Kalimba and Chariot feature campaigns that are meant for cooperative gameplay, but don’t feature any online modes, which is unfortunate.
Last month, Speedrunners from Tiny Build games was offered to Xbox Live Gold members as part of the Games With Gold promotion. My friends and I have played it around fifteen times over the past 30 days. Not only is the gameplay fast paced, hectic, and strategic, it also provided my group of friends with some of the funniest moments we have ever experienced on Xbox Live. If Speedrunners didn’t have online multiplayer, I doubt that I would even be playing the game because competing against the AI is just not that fun.
Runbow will be launching later this month as part of the Games With Gold program as well. As someone who has watched people stream it on Twitch, Runbow looks like a game that will provide tons of laughs with my group of friends. Luckily, the developer has added online multiplayer modes for Xbox Live members to utilize. Microsoft has been promoting games that Xbox Live Gold members can play and I really appreciate that gesture. I’m more inclined to play/purchase games that have online functions.
There are plenty of video games that would find a bigger audience if they supported online multiplayer. While it’s likely that lesser known games will have smaller communities, “Looking For Games”, a feature that I have praised in the past, can help expand a title’s longevity.
“The good thing about Looking For Groups is that you can create tags so potential gaming partners know what you’re looking for in a group. You can specify that players must use a mic, you can mention that the group will be hunting for achievements and so on. The feature offers a completely customizable experience for the person looking to play with others. It’s something I never thought about using, but now it’ll be a normal function in my Xbox Live experience.”
Years ago, it was understandable for certain games to not have online modes. It costs money to run servers and the number of people playing the game might not turn a profit for the studio. Now, things are different. Smaller independent video games have become popular. Since Xbox Live (and PlayStation Network for our Sony audience) has become mainstream, local multiplayer is starting to dwindle. It’s evident in games such like Halo 5: Guardians, which dropped split-screen multiplayer altogether, that online components are a priority for gamers.
Indie games that emphasize local multiplayer disinterest me. The 80’s inspired action game, Tango Fiesta, is a shoot ‘em that I quite enjoyed. Unfortunately, while playing alone is fun, it looks like the game would be a blast with a friend or two. After 12 hours, I started to get bored playing alone. Having a partner to play with could make the Smash TV like experience a hell of a time. As the gaming industry moves forward, I think that local multiplayer should be and will be a thing of the past. As a gamer, I want to get the most out of the games that I purchase and I don’t think couch co-op and competitive modes will satisfy that hunger. While there are people that still crave local multiplayer, I think that overall number is starting to get smaller. If a game wants to survive nowadays, there need to be options for the consumer. Online multiplayer is the best way for people to get the most out of their game.
I may be in the minority when it comes to local only multiplayer, but I think that the feature is a hindrance. Local co-op and competitive gameplay are holding back the gaming industry from moving forward. Is it difficult for every developer to include online multiplayer with their games? Sure, but I think that Microsoft and Sony should help studios provide the best possible experience for their player-base. It’s a long time coming before online features (both cooperative and competitive) will be available in every game with multiplayer will be a thing, but I think that for this to happen, local multiplayer needs to be put on the backburner.
Are you a fan of local multiplayer? Would you prefer for games to feature online multiplayer? Leave a comment below.
I think you should change the title. Something to clarify that you mean exclusively local-multiplayer games or something. If you mean you want to get rid of it entirely, then I think you need to make that point more strongly in the article.