Why do successful titles require multiplayer modes?

   To the average company developing a new game, multiplayer modes look great on paper. Say the company has an idea for a new first person shooter. Let’s assume this is a low budget IP and they can't afford to mess this game up. Obviously they want to sell the game well, and seeing examples made by franchises like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield, they want to add a multiplayer mode in as well. The problem with this aspiration is that this is a low budget title. Rarely can games like this support both modes while upholding quality. That means there will most definitely be one aspect, either the multiplayer modes or single player campaign, that will be lacking in some way.  

       What developers should try to do for their new game is to focus on one aspect for their idea and build the game upon that. Most gamers would much rather have a great single player campaign or a great multiplayer in separate games than have sub-par versions of both in one title. There have been too many games that have shown up at your local bargain bin because less effort was put into the original idea and more effort was put toward tacking on a mediocre multiplayer.

      A trend that has been happening in more popular video games would be this same idea of tacked on multiplayer. Part of the problem is that some gamer really enjoys a game, thus wants to play that same game with his/her friends online. This is perfectly understandable. Developers want to please the gamers, so they want to follow through with making this happen. Some prime examples of this would be Bioshock 2, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and more recently, Dead Space 2. Now quite a few people are thinking that the multiplayer modes for these games are very well done, which is definitely true. The only issue is that the majority of gamers try a multiplayer like Bioshock 2's and lose interest. Even though these modes are well done, there is no way to keep a large enough audience to make the online addition successful. Very few people are still found on Bioshock 2’s servers. Not because it was a bad multiplayer, but because it's not a consistent thing to find throughout Bioshock games. Games like this force multiplayer to work for their idea because that is the norm for most current gen titles. That is what Ubisoft did for Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and that is what Visceral did for Dead Space 2. Just think about how much better these already amazing games could have been if the single player story was the only thing that the developers focused on. It works both ways of the mirror. Think about what an amazing multiplayer game like Team Fortress 2 would be like with a simple, poorly made single player mode? 

     There are definitely a few franchises that can deliver on both story and multiplayer, but these companies usually have quite a bit of money and experience to back them up. Not only that, but for a game to become successful with multiplayer, it needs to have constant updates to gameplay as well as consistent upkeep. Call of Duty achieves this by releasing their games regularly and continuously adding features and mechanics upon the original idea. This entire process needs to include multiplayer in its origins and needs to keep it consistent with money and effort to become successful like the Call of Duty or Halo franchises. 
Without strong foundations for these multiplayer modes, they will become easily forgettable and somewhat a waste of time for developer potential that could have been used elsewhere within the game. 

- Neil S. 

Please leave any comments or opinions that you guys have below. I like getting feedback from my writing, whether it be positive or negative. 

XL_ARES_IX's picture

Extremely good writeup. Nice to be reviewing a piece of quality work, unlike about 90% that comes through here...

Whiplash's picture

It's well writen, but what they are really trying to do is combat stores like Gamestop that sell used games. The devs don't make money off of used game sales, so they add multiplayer to make gamers want to keep the game for a longer time. This was mentioned on the podcast.

Josh Kowbel's picture

I agree with Ares and Whiplash. It's refreshing to see someone esle actually use correct punctuation and grammar. Anyway, my complaint with tacked on multiplayer is that it often tries to implement what I would call the "COD formula." It seems to me that developers believe, "If gamers aren't unlocking new powers/abilities when they play, then they aren't having fun." Granted, I don't have a problem with this, but I really think more big name developers should try and mix up the formula every now and then.

Take Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for example. It's unique twist on multiplayer earned it my multiplayer game of the year recommendation for 2010. You know why? Because it is DIFFERENT. Never have I had as much fun outsmarting my opponent and reaping the rewards as I climb to the top of the in-game scoreboard. Sure, there are some bugs, but they are minor overall, and it does include unlockable perks, but even the low level abilities are effective at the level 50 cap.

Retrospecter05's picture

@Whiplash   True, but even then the developers would still be failing their ultimate goal if the multiplayer turned out to be bad.  What episode was the podcast do you remember?

Also thanks for the feedback.  :)  I like this site I think I'll stay.

Whiplash's picture

@Retrospecter05, either episode 66, 65, or 64. I don't remember which it was, but I remember hearing about this.

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