From the NES to the PS2 multiplayer has been a big factor in gaming. The N64 doubled that with 4 controllers ports, allowing up to 4 friends to play each other at the same time. Games like Goldeneye and Super Smash Bro’s were an instant hit. The Dreamcast also sported 4 ports and the PlayStation 2 had a multi-tap to increase the amount of players allowed to participate in a game. But what happened to friends all huddled around one television, laughing and smiling? The answer lies in one word; online.
Ever since online gaming became popular local multiplayer has been declining. Think of it as a see-saw, as one goes up the other inevitably goes down. When online was first introduced I was one of the gamers that shunned it, why would I want to play against random people, when I could play against my friends? I continued to neglect online on consoles till I bought my Nintendo Wii, where I embraced it slightly, but still preferred local. I saw nothing more fun than arguing with a friend over cheap tactics in Street Fighter or Mario Kart. Unfortunately a lot of my mates have embraced online so much they only have a single controller for their consoles.
The differences between Local and Online are the reasons people prefer one over the other. With Online you have the advantage of; playing anyone, of any skill level, from anywhere in the world, whenever you want. You always have someone to play against, day or night as someone in the world will always be online. It’s cheaper and more convenient and you don’t need to make contact with the outside world. Whereas with Local you have to invite people over to play, and spend money on extra controllers. With Local there’s no lag, smooth crisp gameplay 99% of the time, you don’t need Internet and it’s a lot more personal. One of the best things about Local is the trash talking and general dick-headedness that goes on, as you can give someone a quick smack round the head if they piss you off.
However, online has risen above all these great reasons and now reigns as supreme ruler of multiplayer. It’s rare to find games nowadays that don’t include some form of online play. Some developers have even gone so far as to exclude local multiplayer altogether, this was most evident with games such as Motorstorm, Burnout Paradise and even Killzone 2. Personally I am appalled that a game would be released without Local Multiplayer, especially racing games. But this just goes to show the emphasis on Online nowadays.
With PlayStation Network and XBox Live as the main online marketplaces, gamers strive to be part of an online community. Why have friends over when you could play them from home? Even going as far as to use Blue-tooth Headsets to chat to them, it’s got all the pleasures of local multiplayer, without the actual people. However it has it’s fair share of problems, from quitting halfway through a match to playing people with bad Internet. Online can be easier, but it can also be a royal pain in the ass. Another problem is the people, you can’t choose who you play with most of the time and you’ll always find people who have a million and one excuses for losing, these can range from; “My net was lagging” to “My Teammates Were Bad”, there’s always some reason they can’t accept losing.
It seems even though Sony and Microsoft are neglecting Local Multiplayer, the one company that embraces it is Nintendo. Many gamers bash Ninty for their sub-par online system, friend codes and what not. Ninty have always been more focused on the fun part of gaming, and I for one have never had more fun online than I have locally. It just doesn’t compare, even with headsets. Sometimes I’d much prefer to play Smash Bro’s or Wii Sports locally than COD4 or Halo 3 online, it’s not that those games are crap locally, it’s just the others are more fun locally. Online gaming to me is the same as playing the computer AI. Lonely.
One of the main attractions to online are Achievements or Trophies. These create the foreseeable retard rush to be number one on the Leader-boards. People stop playing for fun, and start playing for points. Not everything has to be a competition. Gamer Points and Leader-boards have turned gaming into something ugly, sure it’s nice to see how good you are at a game, but when you start thinking you’re better than others, then its gone too far. These points have become like a monarchy, if you’re number 1 on the Street Fighter IV Leader-boards, then you are respected like a god. If you aren’t in the top 1000 then you’re a lowly worm. People will deny this but it’s true. Gamers want to be number one, not for personal satisfaction, but so they can feel better than others. When you play locally you want to win, but it’s not a big deal. It’s all about the fun.
My main gripe with online is down to local being excluded altogether. The foundation is already there, how hard can it be. Gears and LBP have both offline and online. Why was it so difficult to put it into Burnout from the beginning, or Killzone 2. It’s not that hard. Personally, a game without local multiplayer isn’t worth the money. If i can’t play with friends in the comfort of my own home it defeats the purpose, gaming is about bringing people together, not putting them miles away and playing them online.
Is online gaming killing the fun? Yes and No, it can be a huge success, with games like Warhawk and Halo, people love the online. I don’t blame them, it can be fantastic. But in another way it twists gaming to a degree where I don’t want to play anymore, and that’s a bad thing. I do not hate online gaming, I’ve had lots of fun online, but overall, I prefer local multiplayer.
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