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Console games move away from online multiplayer

Online multiplayer is present in a quarter less 2012 console games than those launched near the beginning of this generation, and gamers don't seem to mind. Video game research and consulting firm EEDAR spoke with the Penny Arcade Report about multiplayer modes' gradual disappearance from near ubiquity.

“You can see that in 2006, one year into the release of the Xbox 360 and the launch year of the PlayStation 3, 67 percent of the games had online multiplayer, 58 percent had offline multiplayer and 28 percent had no multiplayer,” EEDAR chief operating officer Geoffrey Zatkin said. “By 2012, you can see that only 42 percent have online multiplayer, a drop of 25 percent, 44 percent have offline multiplayer, a drop of 14 percent, and 41 percent have no multiplayer, a rise of 16 percent. So, over time, fewer and fewer high-definition console games are including multiplayer as part of their core offering.”

Gaming forums and other communities have scorned the dreaded "shoehorned multiplayer" for the extent of this generation, but the problem appears to be clearing up. Multiplayer is an expensive undertaking for publishers, and high-profile console games from Skyrim to Batman: Arkham City have succeeded without it. So much for a marketing necessity.

“I don’t think that players are noticing,” Zatkin said. “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 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.”

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18 comments

  • betjaardejoe - March 26, 2013 4:19 a.m.

    I know it's nitpicking (and somewhat offtopic), but please don't confuse "percent" with "percentage point". A figure going from 67% to 42% is a drop of 25 *percentage points*, not percents. It's actually a drop of 37,3%, but only if the numbers are the same. If the second figures (the 42-44-41%) have higher numbers to them (eg. more games released, and there probably were), the drop/rise rates are even steeper -- so the article's point is even more significant. Now you can set the hounds on me, thank you.
  • MD-Stranger - March 26, 2013 3:24 a.m.

    Bet you anything you want that EA still try to push it
  • winner2 - March 25, 2013 7:47 p.m.

    And not a single complaint about the news was made! It's a rare day in the gaming community here at GR!
  • AvronChris - March 25, 2013 6:38 p.m.

    One of the biggest examples of them putting multiplayer into a current single player franchise and ruining the game is the new God of War Ascension. They absolutely ruined what could have been a good game. They completely changed the purpose of playing a God of War game. That would be acquiring weapons that you do things to allow you to progress in the game. This game was a joke. They added multiplayer just to say it has it. A true God of War fan doesn't play this game for a multiplayer mode. They play it for the experience of a truly great story. This is something they never should have done. There is only one multiplayer game I would play. Super Mario Bros U! You don't have to listen to people cursing and berating you because you don't make this your life. To them it's all they have. They don't have lives that are worth anything so they live inside these games where they make themselves out to be Gods. I think if they do away with these games maybe we would actually find some people that would take jobs that could actually cure some fatal diseases. Do away with multiplayer games so these people will have to find something better to do with their times. It was a gamer that helped unlock the structure of an AIDS-related enzyme. Have these obsessed multiplayer addicts sit down and tell them they will get trophies for every diseases they cure. Give them an infinite list of trophies and they will just keep working till they get every one. Eventually the world will have no disease. I think this is a great reason to do away with multiplayer games. So good can come from doing away with these games after all.
  • oneessence7 - March 26, 2013 5:28 a.m.

    Very well put sir! Very well put. I agree with you to the utmost and I couldn't have said it better! Take care.
  • oneessence7 - March 25, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    GREAT!!!! I'm an old school gamer and the single player campaign mode is THE OG! When multiplayer came on the scene, I witnessed how players were playing the same game over and over again. To me the video game industry shot themselves in the foot because now players were only playing one game per year on average, as opposed to buying and playing multiple games. Refined minds take substance over style any day! Peace.
  • masterjoe123 - March 25, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    I'm fine with games that have multiplayer, as long as it doesn't detract from the single player experience. I also hate it when games have online multiplayer but not local.
  • TurkeyOnRye - March 25, 2013 11:50 p.m.

    Completely agree. I'm more of a single player person, I don't care if a game has multiplayer or not as long as I get the most out of the single player campaign. The only negative is when achievements/trophies are linked to multiplayer accomplishments. This is even more true when you're working through a backlog... by the time I get to some games, the multiplayer aspect is all but abandoned.
  • shawksta - March 25, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    Cool to know I frankly like it when Multiplayer is added only when its either a major part of a game or as a secondary that helps the game itself without the single player feeling stripped
  • CUFCfan616 - March 25, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    Good. The novelty of online multiplayer is wearing off as people really don't like being called various unsavoury names every five seconds and being camped by guys who play games every waking hour while you just want a casual online game that's fairly balanced (a pipe-dream I know, but it's just crap when a game's over before it's even started). Single-player games are still what will be popular though, it's just that there's few developers willing to put the time and effort into a decent lengthy story with replayability. That's exactly the reason why Fallout proved to be hugely successful for Bethesda despite being a broken game, at least to begin with: there wasn't much in the way of competition for that style of single player game. Recently though there's been some fantastic single players such as Dragon's Dogma, Bioshock Infinite, Far Cry 3, Skyrim (again, broken I know) whereas the quality of multiplayer games has stagnated in Black Ops 2 or Battlefield 3. It's also the case that console gamers move on a lot quicker in terms of games and so the longevity of a game's multiplayer lasts a year at most (until the next annual Call of Duty is released) and then the servers quickly empty. I wonder if the developers planned for a longer use of the servers or not and have since wisened on. Finally, take a look at the upcoming most anticipated games. How many of those are single player? The vast majority of them. Hopefully with the next gen developers will work on more interesting ways to use online components like in Dark Souls instead of reverting back to hashed on multiplayer for the sake of it, and we'll be better off as gamers for it
  • wadesmit - March 26, 2013 4:50 a.m.

    Agreed. Multiplayer, while not quite a novelty or gimmick, seemed to have had its peak.
  • garnsr - March 25, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    I just finished Tomb Raider, and got almost all of the campaign trophies, but there are still a bunch more for multiplayer, which I don't plan to play. I hate when they put in so many multiplayer trophies. When I finish the story I'm generally done with the game, I don't want to play multiplayer over and over, doing the same thing time and again.
  • BladedFalcon - March 25, 2013 3:23 p.m.

    YES! So effing glad that this is the case, as a stubborn single player gamer, I'm really against the idea of most games necessitating multiplayer, And with a lot of articles, "analysts" and journalists predicting that eventually all games would end up having multiplayer, and single player no longer existing as is, This serves a big, nice "Shut the Fuck up" for them, and a big reminder for gaming companies of what the people really want. Heck, the guy in the article says it in a very spot on manner: “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 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.” So yeah, awesome news for me :3
  • Z-man427 - March 25, 2013 3:21 p.m.

    Too many games have it without needing it. Really only squad shooters, racing games, and fighting games NEED it. It can work in other genres, but it's not necessary.
  • chavbuster1 - March 25, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    Really, the only reason developers give their games multiplayer is for replayability, and to leech money from consumers by releasing Map Packs and the like. But geeze, it's welcome news, although I realy do hate it when they stick a disgrace of a multiplayer mode on perfectly good singleplayer games that most play for ...you guessed it, the SINGLEPLAYER :D Tombraider 2013, FarCry 3, and a couple others that escape me, perfect without a half-assed attempt at multiplayer (^^)

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