Judging by the early buzz, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's massive world seems like a natural home for an online multiplayer mode. But while Bethesda admits adding such a feature to the upcoming open world fantasy game is entirely possible, the studio is dead set against doing so, believing it would ultimately weaken the core single player experience.
"Certainly we could do multiplayer. Unquestionably. It's not a thing we're technically incapable of figuring out,” said Bethesda's marketing boss Pete Hines in an interview with Edge magazine, continuing, “But when we draw up the list of things we'd like to have cut or change in order to support that feature, what we end up with is unpalatable. It'd make a lesser version of the game. And there is no doubt on the dev side that that is the case."
Hines said he's opposed to including multiplayer functionality simply so Bethesda can say it is keeping up with online trends. Nonetheless, he understands the desire amongst fans to see the franchise expand beyond its single player trappings, noting, “It's not wrong or unreasonable for people to want to experience a game with their friends, or want to do things with folks online. There's nothing wrong with that at all. What we've tried to do is help people understand that in game development, it's all about trade-offs. One of our mantras here is that you can do anything - you just can't do everything.”
Arguments against the so-called act of 'shoe-horning' multiplayer modes into predominantly single player games have popped up a lot recently. In his interview with Edge last week, Gearbox's Randy Pitchford took a dig at games like Dead Space 2 which, in his opinion, sacrificed the creative integrity of the product by implementing multiplayer modes simply to sell more units, explaining, “When you boil it down to that, you take the ability to make good decisions out of the picture. And the reason they do it is because they notice that the biggest blockbusters offer a little bit for every kind of consumer. You have people that want co-op and competitive, and players who want to immerse themselves in deep fiction. But the concept has to speak to that automatically; it can’t be forced. That’s the problem.”
Rocksteady has also said it will be sticking to single player for its highly anticipated sequel, Batman: Arkham City, as spending any amount of time on a multiplayer component would take away from the studio's main focus.
"It might not be the fashionable choice, it might not get us an extra tick on the box, but we are convinced, and we hope that gamers will agree when they get to play the finished game, that we have made the right decision," noted Rocksteady Game Director, Sefton Hill.
Bethesda's reluctance to hop on the multiplayer bandwagon is understandable, though adding the option to bring friends along for the adventure could be a natural evolution for the series rather than an 'extra tick on the box'. Or could it? Are you content to enjoy Skyrim alone, or would you like to see Bethesda branch out?
April 13, 2011
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