That Explains a Lot

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 25, 2008

Filed under: Rants 57 comments

In this CNet interview, EA president Frank Gibeau talks about the new direction he has planned for the company:

If you look at our customers’ behavior patterns, you’re seeing them engaging with fully connected experiences. And I think we have IPs and ideas and expertise that can really allow us to do that. I think Spore is a connected experience. I think Battlefield is, and Warhammer. These can be very lucrative for us, and they can be very exciting from a developer standpoint, because you’re moving from a fire-and-forget model to more of a service model, where you launch the game but you’re thinking 24-7 about when’s my first content pack, what’s happening with telemetry, how are people playing the game, and how do I make their experiences better?

I’ve noticed this already. A “service” model. They have been moving towards this for some time now. Why sell me a game, when you can lease it to me and hold the experience ransom for a monthly fee? What better way to get closer to your customers than to enter into this economic suicide pact with them? If we die, we’re taking your games with us.

Having said that, I would welcome this a bit more if the “service” wasn’t just an artificial restriction and hassle placed on the consumer. Signing in to World of Warcraft to enter their 10-million-player world is reasonable. Connecting to a server so I can be allowed to play Mass Effect is not. If you want to provide a service, you have to actually offer me something I want. Something besides permission to play my game.

He continues:

But I’m just not interested in single-player-only experiences anymore.

Sure, System Shock 2 was an incredible and deeply immersive experience, full of tension and thrills, but think of how much better the game would be if you could share it with a bunch of random XBox Live douchebags, typing incomprehensible nonsense and teabagging each other. How much better would KOTOR be if every planet was crowded with Jedi Knights asking you, “how u find key 4 forse field in kashik i cant get thru blue wall PST” The multiplayer experience isn’t just “a single-player game, but with friends”. I actually wrote about this two and a half years ago: In terms of mood, gameplay, and pacing, multiplayer it a completely different experience.

Maybe I’m just on the wrong side of the cultural change. Maybe people really are clamoring for multiplayer everything, all the time, everywhere. I’m not seeing it, but maybe me, my friends, and many of the people who frequent this site are all just… radically different from the average gamer?

I’m not against multiplayer, I’m just not hungry for it. And when I see the biggest game publisher announcing that they aren’t interested in single-player games anymore, it makes me suspect there is a lot more going on here than a response to “the market”.

Snarking aside, this is actually really good news for indies. Big-name publishers are embracing multiplayer games with lots of visual glitter, and moving away from making games with personality and depth. The opening is there for indies and small-time developers to step in and make games rich in atmosphere and storytelling. It’s hard to compete with big-name publishers on their own turf, but if they abandon that turf to build Halo clones, then it will leave an untapped market that indies can pursue.

I hope.


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57 thoughts on “That Explains a Lot

  1. Clint says:

    Typo: “I'm not against miltiplayer”

    I do believe you meant “multiplayer”…

  2. Kevin says:

    Lena and I love playing WoW, but we also love playing single and two player games on our consoles. (I just picked up Narnia for the Wii for absolutely no reason other than it was 2 player.)

    I’m happy about this move by the big developers, for the specific reason you cite about the windfall for smaller developers. Hopefully this can also result in us seeing some cheaper games as well!

  3. Lain says:

    Hmm, at first I wanted to say: Then don’t buy it, buy products for single-player like
    The witcher or
    Assassins Creed or

    Hey, because of an older mail from another fan of your blog I reinstalled Thief II again and play now every free second some real AWESOME fanmissions (Rowena rocks!!). And I even let the most incredible campaign for later.

  4. Rick C says:

    I think about half of Penny Arcade is the same rant about online multiplayer.

  5. Greg says:

    Heh, actually I installed a patch onto system shock that made it multiplayer and played it on a LAN with two mates from midnight until after the sun came up and it was great :D

    Not the same as playing it single player and I see all of your points. Jus’ the example made me chuckle.

  6. modus0 says:

    Well, I guess i won’t have to worry about what games EA is putting out anymore, the only online multiplayer I’ve ever even remotely enjoyed was in Halo 3. Otherwise it’s either single player or co-op with a friend.

  7. JFargo says:

    They’re just widening the gap of console vs PC and pushing players who enjoy solo gaming more towards console games. Dumb move.

    Hopefully the indy side of things will continue providing us with fun games full of substance and personality.

  8. Tom Armitage says:

    My problem is the idea that there’s “single player” and “multi-player” and nothing in between. The fact is: one of the things I like most about Live is playing singleplayer games, and knowing what my friends are up to; that they’re playing, too. I like knowing how far they’ve got in games. I like them sending me entertaining replays from Halo 3.

    Just because we’re pervasively connected, in a world of services, doesn’t mean we have to all be shooting each other and yelling into headsets all the time. There are lots of interesting social experiences, that involve many people who play games, that aren’t what you’d call traditional “multiplayer”, and I think these are the really interesting seams of gaming right now that are crying out to have stuff done with them.

    So “single player experience” and “single player gaming” aren’t necessarily the same thing, but I do think that’s splitting hairs a little. I just really think a lot of the more “traditional” games firms really need to get their heads around all the bits that lie between “single” and “multi”, and “multi” and “massive” – because those are the areas where most of us do most of our gaming: as part of a small group of friends, or as part of a clan/guild that’s way smaller than the MMO universe, but bigger than just the four friends we usually talk with about games.

  9. Nevermind says:

    Well, I have to agree that “The multiplayer experience isn't just “a single-player game, but with friends”. ”
    But I do believe that neither it has to be “a bunch of random XBox Live douchebags, typing incomprehensible nonsense and teabagging each other”. Multiplayer game experiences are, if anything, richer than single-player; it’s just the question of whether EA can and wish to experiment and create them. Anyway, they have Spore, don’t they?

    I’m absolutely certain, that one CAN create a multiplayer game as complex and immersive as any single-player; but it certainly won’t look anything like most, or maybe all, multiplayer games that we have today.

  10. Joshua says:

    Dude, if you (and your readers) were the average gamers you would be out there shouting “how u find key 4 forse field in kashik i cant get thru blue wall PST” with the rest of them. And enjoying it.

  11. Factoid says:

    This is what needs to happen: Developers and publishers take note.

    Publisher’s want gaming to become a service, because they want to increase the profitability of their games, because most games are grossly unprofitable.

    Games are unprofitable because they’re promoted heavily at a high initial price ($60 US) and then trail off into obscurity. If nobody buys it at 60 dollars, maybe in a year they’ll drop it to 40 or 50, but nobody notices, and it’s probably still to much for people who were on the fence.

    So what you need isn’t to turn every game into a pay-for-play, or subscription service, but rather you need to solve the problem of price sensitivity amongst your buyers.

    First and foremost every game should not be 60 dollars on day 1. Most games just aren’t good enough to justify it. Price according to quality.

    Secondly, you need a regular schedule for pricedrops. 60 dollars for the first 6 months, then 50, then 40, etc… This will keep sales up and much more steady, which will keep it on the shelf longer.

    Lastly, you need a digital distribution service for unlimited rentals. put, say, every game that’s over a year old available for download for 15-20 bucks a month. No limits, no hassles, no mail order. Track how long I play each game and pay the developer royalties accordingly.

    Price sensitivity is literally economics 101. It amazes me how bad publishers are at pricing their products.

  12. Matt says:

    I like to play some online games, but if there ever came a day where I couldn’t sit back and enjoy a nice single-player experience, I think I would have to quit gaming all together.
    Sometimes you aren’t in the mood to play with other people, and honestly, developers would have to be idiots to to realize that different people like different things.

  13. Dreamer says:

    I find that, with most video games, if you play with other people, it’s difficult take anything seriously. If I’m playing on-line, for example, I play for fun and I only talk with people that have that as a goal as well. Single-player games are where you explore the depths of your true soul and discover the meaning of life.

    It seems rather fitting, doesn’t it? Jokes are harder to enjoy when you’re the only one enjoying them, and when you’re trying to be serious in a multiplayer game you either get frustrated or some guy comes along who doesn’t understand or who already played through this part and is generally unimpressed (but can we do subquest A, please?).

    At least, that’s my general impression – I’m not saying that there aren’t exceptions, but today’s society seems to focus on “Fast and Fun”, so that’s what the developpers are going to make: Multiplayer games, because they’re easier to make “Fast and Fun”.

  14. MadTinkerer says:

    The Source Engine is a game engine designed for both single and multi-player games. When you load up Half Life 2, the console mentions a “server” and “client” which is really just your own PC talking to itself. From a technology standpoint the single-player and multi-player aspects of the Source engine are the same thing.


    Half Life 2 Deathmatch (which technically isn’t DM because it’s team-play) is sold separately from Half Life 2.

    There is no single player campaign of Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, or Team Fortress 2.

    There is no single-player campaign of Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament and the story mode of UT3 is weird at best.

    WoW cannot be played offline.

    Ultima Online doesn’t really resemble the original Ultima games anymore and hasn’t for some time.

    Mario Party does not play like Super Mario.

    Fallout 3 is a sci-fi FPS, and so is Halo 3. Is Halo 3 better because it has online multiplayer and Fallout 3 doesn’t?

    Single-player and multi-player require different mechanics. Games that do have both nearly always have bots or some kind of AI simulating what other players would do when playing single-player. Not every single-player game can be multi-player and vice versa. To think that every gamer wants online multi-player in every game is to ignore all the successful single-player games.

    Braid will never be a MMOG, and how successful is it right now? The prosecution rests it’s case.

  15. JKjoker says:

    i usually ignore multiplay in games, it requires a lot of experience to play and not get your ass handed back to you, which means you need to log a looooooot of hours playing to get good enough and i just havent played any game i liked enough to spend that kind of time on it for a loooooong time (starcraft and diablo2 being the last ones ive played online)

    and even if i did waste that time then i have to deal with the incredible huge amount of idiots online, in fact ive never had a good experience without known friends, they cheat, they whine, you usually dont understand a thing they are saying,

    and THEN the fact that most games are just not well balanced for online play, unreal tournament for example : stats pages could be ordered by PING rather than by KILLs and it would not make any difference

  16. Eric says:

    What’s funny is that in the post you put up 2 1/2 years ago, Dan’s half-assed comment about GTA going online as a multi-player game actually came true. Rumor has it that they are working on a GTA just for multi-player. Looks like prescience runs in the family.

  17. R4byde says:

    I have an idea, how ’bout they just slow the push for higher polygon counts. They could cut the the development cost and time by 3/4ths. It would take less people to make a game faster, they could then work on twice as many products for the same amount and even *gasp* put them through some decent QA testing before releasing them.

  18. Jeysie says:

    Chalk me up as someone else who doesn’t like multiplayer. Even harder/more important for me than finding a group of non-morons is finding a group of non-morons that match my skill level. For instance, my best friend is certainly a charming, friendly, sporting fellow to play games with… but he’s also much better than I am in most games. Especially seeing as how most MP games are “actiony” and I am just perpetually bad at that sort of game. So our MP attempts usually end up with him being a nice guy while repeatedly kicking my butt.

    Or to sum up: I can adjust the difficulty level of the AI to match my own (well, assuming the game is well-designed). Not so for real people, at least not without making things less fun for the person who has to “play beneath their skill level”.

    Between the trend towards making games less cerebral and more “twitchy” and the push towards MP over SP… well, it’s been quite a long time since I saw a new game I really wanted to buy. (In fact, I think Galactic Civilizations 2 might have been the last. Fallout 3 looks interesting, but it might be too actiony for my skills since they ditched the IMHO totally awesome existing Fallout combat system. And that’s assuming my computer can even run the game. Sigh.)

  19. Fenix says:

    I find that multiplayer games are just something to do when I’m waiting for the next singleplayer game to come out.

  20. Galenor says:

    I really can’t see how this will help make more storyline-heavy, immersive games; the types i like best.

    I’m currently doing a playthrough of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and i simply cannot imagine THAT going online. You’d be going through an X-Lab to suddenly have a vicious bloodsucker attack you. You’d fire your gun in desperation only to be caught off-guard, falling to the floor in defeat. As you lie there, your mission in shambles, your family griefing, you’d only get to see in chat “OMG LOL NOOB GUN OWNED” and see this invisible creature jumping up and down on you.

    Or maybe you’d walk into Bar to pick up a few supplies for your next venture, and see people spamming the General channel with “CHUCK NORRIS IS SO AWESOME HE DOESN’T COME IN HE STANDS THERE LOL”

    While i do enjoy some antics with Garrys Mod and Team Fortress 2 online, I also will pay good money to play a game that wraps you in ‘awesome’ and showers you with fantastic stories, immersion, and entertaining gameplay. Simply killing this section because “It doesn’t allow our potential consumers that purchase this game for entertainment and mild relaxation to ‘pwn some n00bs online'” isn’t tailoring well to the gamer community.

  21. Perry The Cynic says:

    1. “Service approach” (aka “service business model”) is not inherently evil. Think about Galactic Civilizations, which has been patched and improved for years, and been re-issued in better versions at least five times now. It does not em<have to mean “rent your software.”
    2. There’s some confusion between “multi-player” and “shared world”. They are not the same. “Multiplayer” can mean “a world for me and my three buddies, another world for the douchebag and his 500 buddies.” What you don’t like, is being forced to play with strangers. Sadly, Massively Multiplayer games (cram as many players into one world as the tech allows, and then double that :-) are seen by EA as a proven money maker that needs to be shoe-horned onto every new game release.
    3. Financially, Massive Multiplayer games aren’t just good (for EA) because they make you rent the game. They’re also good because it shifts the expense into the future – you don’t have to create a deep game world before getting revenue; you can concentrate on initial flash and back-fill later. First-wave players will pay for being beta testers and love it. And your players provide much of the NPC entertainment for each other. :-)
    4. At this point, I think the “$60 block-buster release” model for games is dead. It doesn’t make enough money compared to rental models. You can see how each new round of one-off games is less finished and buggier than the last (on average), because the MBAs are squeezing hard on the cost side but are stuck on the price point. What’s left is either rental, or “ship in pieces” (which can work great in some games but not in others), or “ship crap” (which only works a few times).
    5. Remember when Bethesda experimented with selling bits and pieces of their game world to create an after-sales revenue stream? They got a lot of push-back from players. The MBAs read this as “players are resisting any revenue stream model unless we force them into it.” So instead of a voluntary stream model (pay for more stuff and improvements) EA is going to a mandatory stream model (pay to keep playing). Their MBA types probably think they’re acting in self-defense. :-(

    — perry

  22. qrter says:

    Obviously “multiplayer” is the new buzzword among the managerial types, just like “emergent gameplay” was a few years ago.

    It’s saddest when it forces developers to spend money and time into making a bad multiplayer to stick unto their singleplayer game – time and money that could’ve help the singleplayer component become more polished.

    I’m a singleplayer myself, I’d hate to see that experience disappear.

    Galenor: STALKER actually has multiplayer, albeit a more traditional form, with deathmatch etc. Is anyone actually playing that?

  23. MissusJ says:

    I am with the person who talked about the areas between Single Player and Playing With The World. We play consoles, but this idea is spreading there, too.

    It used to be we either played Single Player (he pushed the buttons and I told him where to go in dungeons), or we played Two-Player (or Old School Multiplayer) and I got beat in whatever fighting game it was. There really wasn’t much else to choose from, and by the time they started making OSM RPGs (usually 4 player) they were also 3-D Action RPGs, which I don’t keep up in as well (so they didn’t work for us). Thank God for the DS, where I can still play turn-based RPGs… by myself.

    So we play stuff the old way- he plays, I watch and help. We have a friend who comes over regularly and they play… Old School Multiplayer… offline. Mostly things along the Rainbow Six/ Ghost Recon line, though a lot of Guitar Hero and Wii Bowling has happened too. They rarely play against anyone online, mostly when there are even more people over. The idiots don’t sound any better in Dolby 5.1, BTW.

    Unfortunately, they are starting to run into problems where the game they want to play has ONLY online multiplayer- they can’t play together, anymore! Which means, they can’t play the game. So, they buy other games.

    In the meantime, I would really like to game with my husband but don’t have the skillset to keep up, unless it’s a music game. Rock Band 2, you’re my last hope!

    Come to think of it, he did play one thing online- Uno.

  24. Cybron says:

    This saddens me. One of the reasons I love gaming is the sense of immersion – something I find to be practically impossible in multiplayer. Guess I’ll just have to hope that indies fill the gap.

  25. says:

    I used to play WoW but I lost interest relatively quickly and quit. For a while it’s great to play with someone but like every other game, it gets boring after some time (and not to mention the goddamn stealthed rogues who kill the quest monster after you cleared the whole cave, only appearing to deal the killing blow, the cursed twinks, the chinese lvl 1 orc right in front of the orgrimmar bank advertising… :) ).
    For me there’s nothing better than an good long singleplayer RPG (kotor, baldur’s gate, nwn…)
    One thing I would leave in RPG’s is cooperative play, it’s great to play trough your favorite RPG with your friend…

  26. Gahaz says:

    I think there is a difference between multiplayer in the form of a bunch of random nobodies cluttering up your experience and being able to invite maybe like one friend of yours to enjoy the experience with you.

    Alot of the time now after the incredibly successful Gears of War and many new emerging co-op games that have been coming out that this is what is meant when there is”Multiplayer terms being bandied around some more single player game type.

    I hated playing Gears of War multiplayer, but had no end of fun in Co-Op. It was the fact that the very second I got it home me and my best mate played the entire thing together, cut scenes and all, co-op.

  27. CoarseSand says:

    I love single player games, but I didn’t immediately think that the “service” model was the worst thing ever when I read it. The reason is that for the past few years the big game publishers have “fired”, and then forgotten far too quickly, supporting their unfinished, unpolished games for maybe three months after they’ve been booted out the door. On top of the game not even being finished when it’s released, it’s subsequently abandoned and never even patched. At least with the service model we might actually wind up with functional games six months after their release.

    But then again, maybe we’ll just get a crappy content pack they want us to buy for another 5 bucks and still never fix what they made.

  28. Cuthalion says:

    I like single player. I love old-school multiplayer. I love co-op even more. I find MMO mediocre.

    Good co-op multiplayer: DESCENT. Yes, it’s for DOS.

  29. Sludgebuster says:

    EA’s just following the money. Everybody sees how much money WOW pulls in every month and just start drooling. They want it too.

    IMHO, they’re going about it the wrong way. If they have a good Multiplayer waiting on the development boards, then more power to them, but bluntly stating that they are going all multi is just plain silly.

    Oh, well. I haven’t bought an EA game (knowingly) for awhile; and I probably won’t.

  30. Derek K. says:

    In an optimistic light, note that Spore was in there. It may simply mean the next rpg includes towns populated by retired pcs from someone else’s game, or have statues of your friend’s chars, etc. I hope he meant to say Stand Alone Games not Single Player.

  31. July says:

    The reason moves like this are happening is because of how much it costs to produce an AAA title. Taking risks is just, well, too much of a risk.

    Release of games at lower prices, by independent or big-name developers, would be the best thing for games altogether. Not only would it increase bulk of sales, but it would create an audience with more buying power. Are you going to take a chance on a game that might be interesting with 60 dollars? How about 10? In other words, lower prices would also be good for innovative games, because people would be more willing to give them a chance.

    I think that independent developers selling games at low prices distributed over the internet is going to become the norm in PC gaming eventually.

  32. WWWebb says:

    Hmm. I thought your “That explains a lot” comment was based on the “you're moving from a fire-and-forget model…” line.

    It’s nice of them to admit they forget about things once they’re fired (unless the bugs are so bad it hurts sales).

  33. Eathanu says:

    It’s pretty much a given at this point that big-time developers have no idea how to run their own business…

    Alls I can say is that it’ll be an interesting day if and when EA falls to their own stupidity.

  34. Mark says:

    There are plenty of ways to do multiplayer without turning a game into idiot town. The problem is discovering them first.

    Take a look at Spore. That’s multiplayer! But you’re mostly free from idiots in that.

  35. Mari says:

    I’m in that weird “somewhere in the middle” camp. I love single-player games. I have a lot of them (and a few even work on my new 64-bit OS, but that’s a whole other rant). But I also have great love for specific types of multiplayer play. One of the greatest game purchases I ever made was Civ II Gold because it meant I could play cooperatively (and then, after the AI foes were defeated, competitively) with my husband. I loved playing Dungeon Keeper 2 the same way with him. A few times we even played it with another friend. And it was good.

    Until recently I just couldn’t stomach the few times I played a “massively multiplayer” game, though. Then the hubs ordered Guild Wars (due to your review) and after watching for a bit, I decided to use the free trial. Now I’ve got a full version on the way (yeah, I could have just done the download key thingie, but that’s $30 for Prophecies and another $30 for Eye of the North, while the GotY has both for $27 from NewEgg)because it’s been very, very fun. Of course, I leave the chat window turned off after that first time I logged in and spent ten minutes marveling at messages like, “O baby I take my cloak and wizard hat off…” and completely ignore breakdancer dude in Ashford. At worst, I team up with the hubs. Mostly I play it solo, though. I could enjoy the game just as well as a single-player experience or a LAN-only experience.

    I honestly do like playing games with my husband and friends. But I’d rather do it away from the 14-year-old douchebags. I may be in a small demographic, but from reading the comments here I don’t think it’s an extinct demographic.

  36. NobleBear says:

    Multiplayer really only works for me when I can play with (just)my buddies, so Left 4 Dead, where you would jump on with up to 3 other people, works for me. Multiplayer online means that we can all enjoy a gaming session together with out the cost of gas we can’t afford as we all live in different cities. Beyond that, there’s nothing there. TF2 is great *sometimes*, but that’s as far as I go.

    Sometimes its more fun for us each to have played the game independently, then compare notes with each other, book club style.

    Since I agree with your rant, there’s nothing else for me to add. In a service oriented, multiplayer world there is no room for story and characters, real animators or acting, only pwning n00bs. If that makes me a “fag”, so be it; it’ll have been the best news my wife, the yaoi fan, has heard all day.

  37. Hawk says:

    Well, if the manage to kill off all the single player games, or go to an all-“service” model (blech — and curse WOTC for trying to take D&D there with the digital initiative!), at least I’ll still have my D&D books …

  38. Christian Groff says:

    I’m really worried – EA owns Maxis, the people who made The Sims 2. After Maxis releases the final expansion pack this week, they’ll drop any more work on that game and start preparing The Sims 3. I love the Sims 2, it’s a great storytelling tool, but I worry that The Sims 3 will be entrapped in the web of EA flash and glam and fall under the same curses as Mass Effect – already, Sims 2 expansion packs have SecuROM on them. Will we have to download The Sims 3 from a server to play it?

    This is not good news. If EA keeps sticking their finger up their crack, I’ll stop playing their games and go back to Nippon Ichi and other video game companies. EA, wake up.

  39. Gaping_MAW says:

    Singleplayer (SP) games will only be produced if they (publishers) make money off of it.. duh you say? Well, sp games are those that are hardest to guard against piracy. Hence the risk of a big budget AAA SP game is much higher than a corresponding multiplayer (mp) game.

    This is because, mp games allow you to control who is playing the game (through an authentication system usually), as everyone ends up logging in to play. The other benefit of having everyone authenticated is it is easier to deal with problem players (you can ban them, and force them to play elsewhere in the case of a server ban, or buy the game again if they wish to rejoin if the account is banned globally)… douchebag problem largely solved! was probably the first instance of this (for counterstrike etc), which then evolved into steam. Then WOW came along to blow them all way with cash cowness :) Not surprising that companies see it as a win-win-win-win :) .. piracy problems, problem players, revenue stream and player retention are all ‘solved’.

    If companies move towards this model, it’s not all doom and gloom though Shamus. In fact, it is the opposite. SP games will still be made, they’ll just be called ‘coop’, or will be made by indies and sold through services like Impulse.

    Indies make great games for the people who buy their games, not for the mass market… sure, it’s not AAA, but you can bet that it will be more focused on your niche desires :)

    Coop is the icing on the cake for me.. it means I can play games with my mates (who might not be my standard of play in competitive mp games), and still enjoy a ‘campaign’ experience. The best example of this new direction is Dawn of War 2. Check it out :)

    Chin up Shamus, the glass is half full!

  40. GAZZA says:

    Having tried WoW for 18 months a while back, I can safely say that I have no further interest whatsoever in multiplayer games of the “online” type. Playing something on the Wii with my mates around? Sure. Playing Starcraft against the wife or a buddy via LAN? Cool. Playing with a random bunch of strangers? Not interested – not opposed to, you understand (live and let live), but it’s totally not my bag, baby.

    But from an economics standpoint? Well, I can see why gaming companies want to push for that.

  41. Usman says:

    Call of duty 4 has the best multiplayer experience i have EVER seen. Dont know what relevance it had to the current conversation, just felt like saying it, its a lot of fun on my ps3 and if the kids get annoying (which i have never experienced) just mute them :). Not all multiplayer is shit Shamus, you should try out some games (C.o.D 4 being one example)

  42. Matt` says:

    I’m loving the model TF2 follows… buy it once, get updates with patches or new (awesome) content, unlockables and suchlikes, for free forever. I’m going to be playing TF2 for a long while… they’ve got another 6 major updates left before there’s one for every class, and no reason why they shouldn’t start a second round of updates after that.

    Unfortunately chances seem slim that you’ll get the same level of awesome without having to pay for it from anywhere else.

  43. NRD80Y says:

    The preview weekend of Warhammer Online beta just wrapped up and after approx 30hours of testing and playing I am more than willing to fork out $15 a month to EA Mythic to continue playing this epic game (I suggest Shamus you cancel your WoW account now and pre-order WAR to avoid the rush :) )

  44. Flying Dutchman says:

    GAZZA pretty much states my point. Online games like WoW and Halo on Xbox Live when playing with strangers leave a somewhat disappointing feeling.

    Am I the only one who got chased around by two idiots in WoW spamming and challenging me to duel for 10 minutes, because I called one of their friends an idiotic coward after he sneaked by and mined the ore I was fighting to obtain.

    And don’t even get me started on Halo. Its fun to play with friends, but teaming up with strangers makes me understand why one-man armies are always so efficient in the movies.

    Besides, the MMORPG’s, online scavenger hunts, and “tactical” shooters do not mix well with the other aspects of life, like working, being social, and other things, because you can’t interrupt the game when you’re in the middle of something (you’ll get killed). Which is fine if you’re 14 and momma can wait to drive you to soccer practice until you ganked another n00b, but it’s a real life-killer to some.

  45. Dao says:

    I have been in the multi-player only camp for many years now. The single most enjoyable single player game i have played is still Civilization after all these years. Yes, the original. AI is simply not yet advanced enough to be challenging, the puzzles in vast majority simply variations on themes too easy to identify.

    Gibeau only repeats a phrase that many of his customers have used since technology evolved to allow the greater comradery and challenge of a multi-player experience.

    This said however, most of the multi-player experiences i’ve found i enjoy also supply elements that allow for solo play. From Call of Duty to World of Warcraft i believe the best designers in our industry recognize solo play is also important to their customers. People may play card games more often with others, but solitaire is still pretty popular. :)

    ~ Dao

  46. Scourge says:

    Having played lots and lots of Free MMORPGs, whioch I all quite after some time, was because of the idiots I had to play with. (Also see Tyco’s Internet theory for that)

    If I however find a very decent place, like a persistant RPG world in NWN1 (Yes, i still play that) is there no way to get me away from it, heck, I’d even pay to play there, but then I’d expect a bit more from the DM’s for it.
    But since it is free and everyone is nice OOCly is it all fine.

    However if I’m teamed up with people who are to lazy to type ‘you’ instead of ‘u’ do i call it a day and just quit.

    I also play Guildwars, a friend gave it to me *^^*, and the general chat is off. I found that most people there are still nice and good though if you type yourself properly and if you share a common goal and I will much rather team up with those up again tahn with someone yelling ‘N00b!’ all the time.
    Of course there are always idiots but that is just normal and I can gladly ignore them.

    So, the whole shift to MMO is not that bad, but I will still miss Sp games… but taking in the stories so far (2004+) is there not a lot of games I could look back on and say ‘Wow… the story of that game was truly amazing.’
    There is not much to weep for, and if they enforce some policies like they did with Conan Age of something will I gladly play those games, even online.

  47. The Lone Duck says:

    It seems to me that there are a variety of service-oriented styles of game delivery. Epic and Valve games stand out as single/multiplayer games that continue to push new content free of charge to support the product and its community.
    On another hand, you could look at episodic games as a kind of service. In that sense, the mere developement of the game is a service. (Just so we’re clear here, I’m primarily thinking about Telltale Games.)
    Shamus discussed the MMO angle already. Bethesda offered a service in its add-ons for Oblivion. There is definitely room for servicing in both multiplayer and single player games.
    I think that single player gaming will always be important to videogames. As it stands right now, multiplayer is for the fun times with friends, just hanging out. Single player is for the developer’s story, whatever it may be. And as long as gaming will attempt to call itself art, there will be attempts at story. Of course those may mean Halo clones. We shall see.

  48. Mephane says:

    I also find it outrageous when games require online-activation just to install and be able to play. It’s all fine when you download patches from the developers, because you are online anyway, so why shouldn’t it validate. It’s also fine for MMORPGs, because they effectively provide a service, whole serverfarms hosting the dozens of instances of the game world.

    But, well, if everyone and his grandmother seems to be so excited about having multiplayer in everything, why not get rid of all DRM crap on singleplayer, and have the thing activate, validate or whatever only when you connect to their servers for online play? It could happen when you login to their service, for example. Best example is the NWN series, which just checks the CD key if its valid in general, but when you go online play, it checks in a database whether it is a pirated key; though there are stories of people having bought the copy and finding they keys marked as “pirated”, doh…

  49. Penn says:

    I’ve pretty much stopped playing games on my computer, other than Flash webgames and MMOs. I have a console that will play the few games I want to get into reguarly.
    I played City of X for about 2 years, and had great fun. I’ll almost certainly go back someday.
    I played WoW for maybe 6 months and it got boring fast, so when I realized I hadn’t logged in in two weeks I quit.
    On the console I play Rock Band mostly, with a little Orange Box on the side. Lego Star Wars is also much fun. I own Guitar Hero too, but rarely break it out.
    That’s about it, sadly enough.

  50. Derek K says:

    I feel like an EA fanboi all of a sudden….

    EA isn’t stupid. I mean, I think we all agree that they pretty much exist to make money. They aren’t going to forge ahead with things people don’t want.

    The issue may be that people and us aren’t very similar. ;)

    But I’m still somewhat hopeful. The Sims 3 is a perfect example.

    I don’t think The Sims 3 will be Sims Online 2. I think that your neighbors will probably be families other people have made. I’d bet you’ll have farmer’s markets or consignment stores where you can see things other people have made. I’ll bet someone can have a career as an architect, and other people can buy house plans. Stuff like that. Not an actual full on MMO.

    If you’ve visited EA’s Sims site, I imagine pretty much it will be that, but integrated in to the game.

    Which honestly sounds brilliant.

    I’ve become jaded to the idea of online activation, I guess. I spend so much time playing MMOs, Team Fortress 2, etc that I’ve kind of gotten over caring. I have my classics, which I adore. Then I have my multiplayer. I have very few single player games that I enjoy which were made within the last 5 years, if not the last 15. That’s what I have a console for.

    It still fills me with rage as a concept, but in practice, eh. Which makes me the worst kind of person, really. ;)

  51. says:

    I recall Lego Star Wars had an interesting “drop-in” coop. Your buddy could replace at any time the PC controlled sidekick and play with you through the campaign (or just help you if you got stuck somewhere). That’s a great thing for FPS and arcade games, but it wouldn’t work well in RPG’s as the missing player would miss out a big part of the game…

  52. Dom_Davis says:

    The important thing to note is that, in Fuhrer Gibeau’s mind, his “Fully Connected Experiences” are not ones in which friends can connect with each other… at least not without a purchase by both parties of the friendship. When more than one person can play the game without placing some additional coins in the slot… it’s not worth EA’s time to produce such entertainments, as they are not a charity operation.

    To use a Nintendo DS term, “Multi-Cart multi-player” (where both players have to have a copy of the game) is the thing that publishers are shooting for, because it means more sales. Right now they’re just using the clout of the brand names (e.g. Spore, Battlefield, and Warhammer) in an attempt to drive those sales without offending the market too badly.

    Seems to me like EA could benefit from some… firing and forgetting… if you get my meaning.

  53. J SMith says:


    Sword of the stars CE does something simular. No DVD checks, no online only patching, no single player activation. But if you want to play it online then you need a valid serial number for the multiplayer to activate and work.

    This is the sort of copy protection/activation solution that I support. Single player (or offline gamers) are not punished and the developer can impliment a quick and simple multiplayer check when the game is online. This should reduce support incidents around this sort of thing to nearly 0 and prevent as much piracy as fullon mass effect/steam/impulse does at a fraction of the cost.

  54. Derek K says:

    “That's a great thing for FPS and arcade games, but it wouldn't work well in RPG's as the missing player would miss out a big part of the game…”

    I’m pretty sure the multiplayer in Baldur’s Gate (the original) was like that, actually.

  55. blah blah blah says:

    If a game is strongly narrative, like KOTOR, then it will suck to have a bunch of people roaming around trying to get through the same story at the same time. But a game that focuses on exploration, cooperation, and character development can suck if it’s not multiplayer–even games like Fallout that allow you to “define” your character more, there’s no point in making a cool-looking badass if no one else gets to see it, and so forth.

    Now it’s possible that video games will simply evolve past the narrative mode, similarly to how storytelling more-or-less evolved past audience interlocution with the invention of writing, and evolved past verse in last 300 years or so.

  56. Tesh says:

    Speaking of storytelling and Bioware, I’m close to being extremely annoyed with them for taking their next game and shoehorning it into an MMO mold. They are probably the best company to do the Star Wars MMO, but it’ll come at the cost of what could have been some excellent single player storytelling. It’s a waste of time, money, effort, IP and customer good graces to take the MMO genre and try to make it into something that it can never be: a platform for strong storytelling.

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