For the longest time, gamers have been fighting the stereotype that we're all just a bunch of anti-social kids playing games alone in our parents basements. Over the last several years, however, social gaming has become mainstream and most developers have begun to focus a lot more on competitive multi-player and co-op game styles. This means that now, more than ever, gamers are coming together to experience games as groups in social environments. Unfortunately, there are a hand full of game developers who apparently only want our money if we plan to play their games alone in our rooms. Developers who are robbing us of our split-screen.
In a very basic and stripped down way, the general evolution of the last two generations of video games was as follows:
First there was split-screen. Single player games were given a mode where 2 to 4 players could share one television, which was connected to one game console, and enjoy the game competitively.
Second, this was expanded to allow 2 to 16 players to connect up to 4 consoles to 4 televisions, networked via some sort of hub, and share the same multi-player experience.
The last big leap forward was to expand this connection from just a Local Area Network to the internet as a whole. This allowed gamers to connect with each other from anywhere in the world.
At each step along the way, the implementation of new features only added functionality to gameplay. It just expanded upon what was already there and didn't take anything away.
Why then are game developers starting to remove split-screen from their games? If you add one new feature to a game while simultaneously removing another key feature, your net contribution to the game experience is a big fat zero. How do developers not see this?
I have a GameFly account (NetFlix for video games) and it allows me the opportunity to play a lot of games. I specifically chose the '3 games a month' plan so that at all times I had 1) one long-duration game to slowly work my way through, 2) one 'just for fun' game that's just for... well for fun, and 3) ONE GAME THAT I COULD PLAY WITH FRIEND WHEN THEY COME OVER TO MY HOUSE. I've had to return, and thus refused to play, about 5 games in the last month or so because I couldn't play them split-screen with my friends. What the hell is the point of being able to play a game online with complete strangers if you cant even play it with the friends sitting right next to you?
Developers! I know that it seems like you're going to make more money if everyone who is playing your games needs to have their own console and their own copy of the game, but think of it this way. How many more copies could you sell if people knew they could have just as much fun with their friends who don't already own a console or can't afford to purchase another $60 game. Do us all a favor. Give us back our split-screen.
posted by Christopher Schnese