From the spamming shills at Gamespot, comes the article: Luminaries with ties to EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Microsoft converge to talk about the online future of the gaming industry. Here a bunch of industry heavyweights get together and bloviate about the future of games, while making it clear they don’t even understand the present. Earlier I already took them to task for making silly predictions of a disc-free future. Now I want to savage some of the idiotic things they have to say about multiplayer gaming. I mean rebut. Not savage. I don’t even know why I said that.
Anyway, let me just cherry-pick a few of the most senseless comments:
Doomed to obscurity: I’ll bet people never tried this game because it didn’t have multiplayer.
Lars Butler, former vice president of global online for Electronic Arts and current CEO of the upstart TWN, “Linear entertainment in single-player is to media what masturbation is to sex. It’ll always be there, but it is not the real experience.”
Very classy. And also total nonsense. Some poeple, even in this day of fancy board games and multiplayer ping-pong still choose to do the crossword. Playing against a human and playing against a system are totally different experiences, but each have their place and one is not superior to the other.
Raph Koster, chief creative officer of Sony Online Entertainment, “The players, once they go connected, they don’t go back. They find it difficult to go back to experiences where they can’t share experiences with others. Even any single-player game today is going to have wrapped around it the forums, the cheat sites, and so on endlessly.”
This is not true. I tried on-line gaming. I’ve played a few massively multiplayer games. I’ve played online deathmatch. I’ve played online RTS games. And I still prefer the single-player experience.
I like how he tries to include forums and cheat sites in as part of the multiplayer experience. I’m not buying that. I don’t care how you make your console system, nobody wants to surf the forums using a dual shock controller. When they go to the forums, they walk away from their Sony Playstation, sit down at the computer, and are clearly no longer playing your game. Trying to include the fun of fansites and forum chatter as part of the game itself is just silly. Pac-Man is a single-player game, and talking about Pac-Man with other people doesn’t transform it into a multiplayer game.
Koster again, “The entire video game industry’s history thus far has been an aberration. It has been a mutant monster only made possible by unconnected computers. People always play games together. All of you learned to play games with each other. When you were kids, you played tag, tea parties, cops and robbers, what have you. The single-player game is a strange mutant monster which has only existed for 21 years and is about to go away because it is unnatural and abnormal.”
These idiots are acting like they just invented online gaming. PC users have had online gaming for roughly a decade now, and single-player games like the The Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon still top the charts.
Take the massive, record-breaking success of the bestselling series and money-making dynamo The Sims. Now add the magic of multiplayer to create The Sims Online, a mediocre also-ran that has yet to turn a profit.
All of this makes it clear that none of these guys have really sat down and done any actual multiplayer gaming. You know what multiplayer gaming is? It’s a 14-year old kid calling you a fag 100 times during the game because he thinks it’s funny. It’s cheaters. It’s people accusing YOU of cheating whenever they lose. It’s people disconnecting whenever they are about to lose. It’s lag and frustration over ping times. It’s people scamming and selling game items in EBay. It’s enduring a bunch of bad grammar, worse spelling, and inane chatter while looking for a suitable matchup in the lobby chatroom. It’s PK’s and teamkillers. It’s endless debate and ranting about game balance issues. It’s fat middle-aged men pretending to be 16-year-old elven girls. It’s hardcore gamers and casual gamers being thrown together and each group concluding the other is a bunch of freaks. It’s trying to learn a game by playing against people who have long since mastered it and who now derive enjoyment from taunting newbies. It’s not being able to play when the server or your net service goes down.
The multiplayer experience has a lot to offer games, but it won’t replace single-player gaming any more than the subway replaced cars. What is really going on here is that the console makers and console game publishers have seen how great multiplayer games are to their bottom line. This isn’t about “a better gaming experience”. This is about “not having to work so hard”. Connectivity in PC’s has led to the practice of releasing shoddy, bug-filled games and then patching them. This lets the developer ship a game before it’s done, which is critical to sales near the holidays or when facing a quickly flooding market. Publishers would also rather collect a monthly fee for games as opposed to a flat-rate. (Or better yet, both!) And finally, multiplayer gaming gives publishers the ultimate weapon against piracy, which is requiring users to identify themselves and create an account. It doesn’t matter if the user has mod chips or DVD burners, there is no way around the login screen.
I don’t have a problem with multiplayer. I’m all for it. What bugs me about this article is that a bunch of flacks were treated like objective visionaries. The industry is growing up, and people should know better by now.
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