I have noticed a trend in games lately. Well, I should say it isn't in games lately. What I'm referring to is the lack of multiplayer. Sure, most games flaunt the ability to connect and play with millions of users across the globe, but what about the person sitting next to you on the couch?
It seems that while most games have a multiplayer mode, it is designed for only one player. What happened to splitscreen play? I'll use Aliens vs Predator as an example. I was absolutely positive this game would have a local multiplayer. A generic 2-4 player deathmatch. It would be absurd for a game such as this to not include this obvious feature. Yet, it turned out to be a single player experience through and through. From the story to the online component, it's a singular experience. Why? What reason could there have been for excluding splitscreen play?
I recently purchased Borderlands and was thrilled to see that it included a local splitscreen experience. Looking on the back of the box, it said four players were supported online. I called my sister right away so that my gf and I could play with my sister and her husband. Instead we were treated to another single player multiplayer experience. While it is still a fantastic game, we were crushed that the four of us could not play together. Why shouldn't we be able to? It seems obvious that if a game supports local co op, it should support online four player. Gearbox has said themselves that if demand was high enough, they would release a patch that allowed for splitscreen online play. Looking on their forums and other sites, the demand is there but Gearbox hasn't said another word.
The scenario above is exaclty why I find this is such an issue. I love to play games with my gf. We occupy the same console. This is also true for my sister and her husband. We enjoy playing games together. The big problem is, we live on opposite ends of the country. Currently, there are only a few games we have that allow us to play together all at once (Halo 3, Gears of War 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Rock Band). What happened to games where you and a few friends pile around the couch to play TOGETHER? Instead, I find games moving towards this single player multiplayer. Will developers realize that all gamers are not social outcasts who play games by themselves?
It seems that we have one of two choices with our consoles. With the Wii, there are many games that support four player splitscreen and multiplayer. The problem with the Wii is the lack of user friendly online play and pile of less than quality games. There are the friend codes and the lack of chat that turn it into hassle. The Xbox 360 and PS3 deliver what I consider to be a better online experience with chat and ease of joining/creating game sessions. Where they tend to fall short is splitscreen online multiplayer.
I love my Xbox and the experience that Live provides. Indeed it is the console that sees the most play in my house. I just wish I could share it with more people. I want to say to my gf, "Hey, come play this game with me." Instead, she is forced to watch me play or we must take turns. Gaming should be about bringing people together and sharing an experience. Instead, developers are turning it into a singular experience.