If You Play Multiplayer Games Online, You’re Doing It Wrong

If You Play Multiplayer Games Online, You’re Doing It Wrong

I am so sick of online multiplayer. I swear, if I get trolled by one more 13-year-old kid or get a flirt from some dude pretending to be a girl, I’m gonna lose my shit.

Why is online multiplayer considered the end-all for gaming nowadays? Whatever happened to couch play? Are we, as a society, allergic to hanging out with other human beings? The games I’ve had the most fun with have been the ones where my friends and I would sit around the room for hours, passing controllers back and forth and screaming at each other. High school evenings were filled with long sessions of Goldeneye and Mario Kart 64, and I nearly lost my sophomore year of college to Super Smash Bros. The memories I have from these games are more of the people playing them than the games themselves, since the game was really just a way for me to hang out with my friends.

 Ever since I was little I was unable to play video games on my own. I either needed someone else to play with or, at the very least, an audience to talk to while I played. My sisters frequently filled this role, squaring off against me in Marble Madness or Mario Kart and watching me play Final Fantasy. I’ve never played Guitar Hero or Rock Band single player, I can’t imagine enjoying it as much.

You lose something magical when you put a game online.

When you remove the person from the room all of my motivation to play that game is gone. Sure, there are headsets, but it’s not the same. I need that person sitting in the room with me to really enjoy the game. You lose something magical when you put a game online, something that can’t be replaced with headsets and chat windows.

Why are so many games nowadays focused on online multiplayer instead of local? I was annoyed when I heard that StarCraft II wouldn’t support LAN play and required you to play through their servers (yes, I know you can still play in the same room but it still discourages it). I know that first-person shooters in particular make sense to play online as split screen admittedly does make the game harder to play and easier to cheat, but I’d *still* rather do that than play online. Split screen > online play because, if nothing else, I get to interact with people.

I do recognise that some games require remote multiplayer. WoW would be pretty lame if everyone had to play in the same room (or maybe it would be extra awesome). But games like Rock Band and Castle Crashers are a million times better when played in the same room as online. Plus, local multiplayer never has ghost town lobbies or lag issues.

WoW would be pretty lame if everyone had to play in the same room (or maybe it would be extra awesome).

When we were making Slam Bolt Scrappers we wanted to make couch play one of our pillars. We wanted to create a game that people could play with their friends for hours while yelling at the TV. Hell, we even put in a beverage mode so people could play with one hand while enjoying a drink. The game is really fun and memorable, of course, but we hope that when people think back to their time playing what they’ll really think of is the crazy stuff their friends did while playing, since that is where the best fun comes from.

Disagree with me? Think I’m totally wrong? Love what I’m saying? Hop in the comments and let me know, I’ll respond. Oh, and be sure to go try out Slam Bolt Scrappers, out with a free demo today on PSN.

Eitan Glinert is the lead designer at Fire Hose Games. The team’s debut effort, the downloadable multiplayer puzzle action game Slam Bolt Scrappers, was released today on the PlayStation 3’s PSN store. Full disclosure: we like Eitan’s game.


  • Completely agree. COD is much better when having defend yourself from flailing elbows. My friends scream like little girls when we get onto Mashed after a few. Hang on…I can get that online.

  • i totally agree, local multiplay (especially coop) is just so much better. when i got my ps3 i was really excited playing coop with my flatmate, but as it turned out there are not many good ones. we had a lot of fun with Trine and Lara Croft: GOL, but we really missed a good hack’n’slay dungeon crawler. looting is just so much more fun together!
    also, i think magicka would be a perfect candidate for console multiplayer.

    i feel like there’s a lack of local mp that’s not casual, like castle crashers.

    just give me diablo3 on ps3 with local coop and i’ll be a happy drone!

  • GoldenEye was awesome, primarily for the fact that it allowed you to smash it up with your friends at home so easily. Fair enough, forcing players to connect online allows the powers that be to monitor what we do for their own purposes, and it forces people to buy more copies of the games, but playing borderlands with my friends on lan is way better than single player, and bit more spontaneous. It also usually ends up with more spontaneous yelling and screaming, but thats something else!

  • This is why I was so disappointed with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I didn’t even bother checking if it had split-screen because I thought it was pretty much standard for a racing game, silly me. 😛

  • Its simple economics guys.

    Local GoldenEye = 1 N64 + 4 Controllers + 1 Game Cart

    Online CoD = 4 Consoles + 4 Controllers + 4 Game CDs (just to get to the 4 players that N64 could handle). If we think about Sony’s investment, its also potentially 4 TVs.

    • ah but what about the ‘no local MP = lost sale’?
      I picked up The Conduit for $12 secondhand as a decent little Wii FPS, but I preordered the Conduit 2 Collector’s Edition because of splitscreen MP!

      I suppose system link is a good middle-ground incentive for multiple copies though in that regard – some of my friends have two Xboxes and two copies of games like L4D2 (but I’d still prefer 4P split options given current screen sizes – even better would be 4P split AND syslink for 4v4 gaming – not nearly enough titles do that)

      I do miss the days of LAN spawn discs.. being able to run multiple MP-only installs of Total Annihilation from one set of discs, or FireFight coming with two game discs in the original box specifically for LAN.

  • Yeah I agree with that a lot. I used to have friends to play in the same room with but over time, it just withered away into only online play, and that is always just hell.

    That first sentence would’ve come from my mouth too. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play online as much as I would like to, cuz most of the time you’re putting up with idiots, trolls, fakes, over-perfectionists that shout at you if you do one thing wrong while on their team or constantly insult you just cuz they think they can. (I’m gonna use my Starcraft 2 custom map Star Battle as my example since i just played that last night) Now I’m one of those nice guys online, the one that compliments his allies for helping him out, gets a good and smart kill, or knows how to stick with your party so you don’t get picked off and ganked. The main thing I’m known for, is doing everything I can to keep my friends alive. I don’t even limit this sort of behaviour to my allies alone, I even compliment enemies that kill me after a long battle or work together well to keep me from destroying one of their own. Well played to those guys.

    But usually what I get is immature people that want to insult everybody that isn’t on their team, sometimes people on their own team as well, rather than a simple and friendly “gl hf”. There is much worse of course, such as idiots that just don’t follow instructions/advice and end up getting killed, and THEN insulting all of us for not backing him up, we did warn you kid… don’t take it out on us just cuz you weren’t a team player. Taking on 4-6 with just your one ship, lots of people know that is not a smart idea.

    Playing in groups in person was always so enlightening to me. The last one I did was playing Warcraft 3 with 5-6 others in the room, playing DoTA together. Those were the days, such teamwork just by talking to each other, the competitiveness aura coming from just the other side of the room. I miss those days a lot 🙁

  • I agree, in theory.

    However, as an adult, it’s not always easy to line up couch gaming. I play D&D every second Friday and we’re forever changing days or swapping weeks to fit someone’s schedule, or they can’t make it. I’d say around 15% of games happen as they’re supposed to, and even then, I’m always late because I can’t get from work there any faster.

    Also, if you online game only or even just mostly with friends, you basically end up with a couch on VoIP. My best friend moved to Newcastle from Gosford where we grew up together and I moved to Sydney, now Brisbane, but we still game at least thrice a week together with the same atmosphere as when we used to.

  • Naah you have it all wrong, it’s one thing and one thing only that makes online gaming good: BO. Or the lack of it. Remeber those LAN party days? whole weekend of wierdos, porn addicted nuts, super geeks and lots and lots of BO…

  • Local multiplayer is best in an ideal world, but I find that in the real world, my friends are NOT at my house a lot more often than they ARE at my house. Therefore online tends to be more practical. In addition to that, local only works up to a total of about 3 or 4 people, after which we run out of space, screen or controllers.

    I also find that local multiplayer has lost a bit of its lustre in these days of wireless controllers. It really limits your tactical options in something like FIFA when you’re a goal down in the dying stages of the game and can’t resort to unplugging your opponent’s controller then nailing the equalizer while they’re desperately trying to reconnect it.

  • I’m a big advocate of local multiplayer. As a matter of fact, it is the only multiplayer I play at the moment.

    For some games, like SSF4 and MvC3, it is obviously a much better experience to play against someone in the same room as you. Passing the arcade stick when you lose a match and when someone does something remarkably cheap (like the Captain America infinite in MVC3) you can just punch them in the arm. Ditto for other games like Mario Kart.

    But the best local multiplayer experiences are the co-op ones. I’ve mentioned this before, but I occasionally get together with a friend, set up two TVs and two 360s side by side, then play a game like Gears of War from start to finish in a single sitting.

    We’ve done it with Gears, Gears 2, Halo 3, Halo Reach, Army of Two and Resident Evil 5. None of which are games that I would bother with in single player but all of which were awesome experiences to play like that.

    On top of that, the co-op missions in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 also work really well for this type of gaming, except you can bring in other players to do pass the controller style gaming as well.

    Until you can emphatically high five someone over the internet when you take down a particularly difficult boss, seven hours in to an all nighter, local multiplayer is the way to go.

  • Nights at my sister’s now involve 5 or so hours of couch play. We’l work through the latest Guitar hero, out dance/out race/out throw each other on Kinect or play the latest 4 player arcade extraveganza on Xbox Live Arcade. There’s is nothing like the excitment of pipping someone at the post, breaking a record, or working together to beat the big boss when the room is full of like minded (and trash talking) friends/family.

  • I remember the days of sitting around playing 64 after school with mates.. I come from a small town and when me and my mates had finished school.. I decided to stay and work while they split across the country to go to uni and for various jobs.. So online multiplayer is really the only option to still play with my mates.. But if I could i’d totally love having those lazy (although very screamy) goldeneye afternoons again..

    • During my last few years in high school, I’d spend most afternoons at a friend’s house playing PS2 or Xbox. The PS2 was mine, so I’d have to actually go to my place, pack it up and then go back to his for this to work.

      Our shared FFX save file was an impressive thing, all characters maxed out, all ultimate weapons obtained. The best part was because it was a shared file, most of the grinding was done while we were lazing about talking about random crap.

  • My memory is nights playing old school Mortal Kombat games. Now the excitement of wanting to play the new game with friends will never become possible. Unless the rating system is fixed. XD

  • I still say the one of the major reasons the Halo games were so successful was because of its co-op and lan capabilities.
    I am a big Halo fan but I probably would not have bought past #2 if it were not for the co-op and most people I know who play it are the same. Hell Reach is the first Halo game I have played through the story single player and out of thousands of online games played only a couple of hundred were not with a mate on the couch playing with me.
    And what other shooter lets you play online games with 4 people on the one tv?
    I bought Borderlands and the Gears games just for the split-screen and I didn’t buy Bulletstorm for the lack of it. Please take note devs, we want this!

  • Big AGREE. Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Mario Kart 64 (and the original).
    I built my first LAN for starcraft and most of the fun was inhaving 4 people in seperate room each trying to convince the other non players to sneak up stairs and spy on the others for us.

    Still haven’t got SC2 living in an area with dismally poor internet trough wireless just makes it not worth the effort.

  • oops, what i meant to say was
    Blur = awesome split screen racing
    Lost planet = Co-op campaign is crazy and epic
    Monster Hunter (PSP)= seriously hundreds of hours of co-op gameplay

  • Online gaming has it’s place, it always did. It will never be as much fun as playing lan/splitscreen/whatever in the same room with a few mates, though. I actually look at them as different experiences – not a case of one being ‘better’ than the other.

    I actually boycotted StarCraft II until last week because of the whole forced Battle.net/facebook integration thing – I was mortified at first. No LAN? This from the sequel to the game that almost single handedly made me fail TAFE? (On account of skipping classes to LAN it up at a mate’s house) Upon realising this was a futile act, I purchased it and am thoroughly enjoying it. It still doesn’t sit right with me though.

    My fondest memories will always be of chucking together a bastardised serial cable out of different ended cables to connect two PC’s to play Doom over serial connection. Super Mario Kart split screen. Goldeneye. Quake/TF (the original Quake mod) at LAN’s. (coupled with so much Jolt and general sugar my teeth actually started hurting) Screaming at a mate who planted lurkers at my next planned mineral/gas farming location in StarCraft Brood War, and being able to run over and punch him in the arm for doing so.

    Sadly, those days are all but gone. I’m not mourning them as such, but counting myself lucky that I was a part of it while it lasted.

  • Online gaming can continue, but I want the old-fashioned splitscreen modes back. We sometimes have friends and relatives over and seem to be playing endless battles on Halo 2.

    Got Banjo Kazooie N&B last year and this would make an excellent multiplayer game – and it probably does when played online, but splitscreen would be awesome.

    And where the hell is the multiplayer mode on Sonic 4?!?

    The only games I’ve bothered playing online have been the original Unreal Tournament on the PC (CTF only) and Mario Kart DS and Wii. Tried Smash Bros Brawl and had horrendous lag. Tried NiGHTS JoD (yes I was the one that got it, still an alright game) and can’t find anyone willing to stick around for a match.

    And yet my favourite memories of playing as a kid are multiplayer matches in Rampart, Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye, Virtual On OT (why splitscreen was removed for the XBLA release is beyond me), MicroMachines, Road Rash 2, Sonic 2, Toejam & Earl, Worms and Uniracers. Now it seems 90% of all multiplayer is online only.

  • It’s a valid point, but also an incredibly naive one that (perhaps deliberate) ignores all the benefits of large-scale multiplayer

    For one, if you’re put off 13 year olds trolling you on video games, you really need a thicker skin. That, or try playing on a different platform with a community that is mostly post-pubescant.

    Local play is cool, and it’s a bummer when exciting or enjoyable feature that’s been a mainstay of gaming is phased out, but I’ve met some great people through online gaming. I’ve had some amazing, intense and hilarious times, whether it be with or against friends, trolling or destroying. Playing with friends you already know is cool, but if you do it all the time you’re jipping yourself out of some really great experiences.

    Plus, nobody has to know you’re not wearing any pants.

  • I agree. I can play a game with someone on the other side of the planet, but I can’t find more than one or two decent games to play with my son, wife or friends sitting together in my own living room. That used to be the best part – playing with people I actually know. It was fun.

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