Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Play with me… over there

Posted in Video Games by Jacob Zinn on August 11, 2009

The next time you and your friends want to play video games together, you might all have to stay home.

It’s hard to find new games that allow you to play with your friends on the same console. Most only offer playing against them online.

What happened to local multiplayer?

Two-player games used to use the split-screen, dividing the display in half so that two could play at once.

Now, the number of new multiplayer games has decreased, with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo taking after PC gamers, opting for online multiplayer.

MMORPG’s (mass multiplayer online roleplaying games) such as World of Warcraft (PC) are dedicated solely to online multiplayer, but console games are following in step.

Nintendo is the least of the offenders as the Wii was designed for head-to-head gameplay with friends, but the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are taking full advantage of their online capabilities.

While first-person shooters like Call of Duty 4 and Halo offer local multiplayer, they are critically acclaimed for their online sessions with millions of users worldwide.

Even racing games like Pure only allow multiplayer over the internet. The Need for Speed series has always provided local multiplayer, which is to be expected of racing games–I want to race my friend sitting next to me on the couch and build up the feeling of competition in the room.

Back when the PlayStation 2 was the dominant console, local multiplayer was all you had. The PS2 was only beginning to break into online play, but almost every game that was multiplayer was local multiplayer.

Currently, if you want to play some games against your neighbour, you’re both required to buy a console and connect it online. This is getting ridiculous.

There are still a few franchises out there which rely on local multiplayer for sales. Rock Band and Guitar Hero offer up to four players at once with their instrument peripherals.

That’s not to say all online play is bad–though the console-related ones are an obvious money grab, using Wi-Fi for the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP have made portable gaming much easier.

It wasn’t long ago that, to race Mario Kart Super Circuit or trade Pokémon, you had to connect your GameBoys with a link cable.

But for console gamers, things might only get worse. The portable gaming market seems to be the only winner in this game.

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