Multiplayer console games have been a big hit this generation compared to the last. Games like Call of Duty and Halo have brought in millions of new players and plenty of cash. With so much success in multiplayer and more single-player only games getting some online component, it would appear to most that this trend is going up. According to a new report shared with Penny Arcade by video game research firm EEDAR, the opposite is actually true.
The company looked back to the beginning of this generation and analyzed every Xbox 360 and PS3 released in the United States. The results fly in the face of what most gamers see in the industry today, which is the abundance of “tacked-on” multiplayer for games that simply don’t need it. The truth is that there are now actually less games with multiplayer, and the trend is seems to be continuing. Geoffrey Zatkin, the COO of EEDAR had the following comments on the report.
“You can see that in 2006, one year into the release of the Xbox 360 and the launch year of the PlayStation 3, 67% of the games had online multiplayer, 58% had offline multiplayer and 28% had no multiplayer. By 2012, you can see that only 42% have online multiplayer, a drop of 25%, 44% have offline multiplayer, a drop of 14%, and 41% have no multiplayer, a rise of 16%. So, over time, fewer and fewer high definition console games are including multiplayer as part of their core offering.”
Zatkin admits that when the multiplayer component is good, it will keep people playing for quite some time. Good examples include World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and League of Legends, which offer “superior multiplayer execution.” But having any kind of multiplayer will always be pricey and is not a guaranteed way to increase sales numbers. He also adds that in some games, adding an online mode wont improve the overall product and others simply don’t need it.
“I don’t know that BioShock 1 or the upcoming BioShock: Infinite would be a better game for the inclusion of multiplayer. Or Batman Arkham Asylum & City, Dragon AgeI & II, God of War 3, Skyrim, Heavy Rain or Fallout 3. Or Braid. Or Limbo. There are a lot of great games whose core experience didn’t include multiplayer.”
Finally, he reveals that the most surprising aspect of all this is that players really aren’t noticing the decline.
“I don’t think that players are noticing,” said Zatkin. “I believe that people want good games. I don’t think any single feature makes every game more fun; putting in a ‘little bit of everything’ often means that your game doesn’t shine in any single area.”
A very interesting trend is happening, and one which I hope continues. Great single-player games don’t need extra bells and whistles, and the same can be said about multiplayer titles. Zatkin agrees by concluding that, “A game that gives you a great experience is what you want; if the great experience involves multiplayer, fantastic. If it doesn’t – well, that can be fantastic as well.”
Source: The Penny Arcade Report