Veteran designer Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
) continues his series on the "megatrends" of the gaming industry
, this time tackling multiplayer -- from co-op and griefing to addiction. To read his first article in the series, click here
. To read the second article, click here
One major trend in the industry that Luban identifies is the development of cooperative games at the expense of competitive modes. Though the first multiplayer games tended to place players against each other -- just as card and board games almost always do -- competitive gaming often limits a title's userbase to mostly skilled players:
"A novice or ordinary player generally cannot hold his own against a seasoned gamer. Constantly losing is surely not the best way to spend an evening!
The arrival of cooperative gaming modes has allowed players of different skill levels to have fun together. I think it is one of the main reasons for Counter-Strike's success, where players of any level are playing together as a team. A game like Gears of War owes part of its success to its option for allowing two players to fight alongside through the single player adventure.
If a multiplayer game wishes to please the mainstream, it must definitely support one or more cooperative modes. This is even truer in certain cultures where cooperation is more valued than competition."
With Xbox Live now claiming over 14 million subscribers and Sony and Nintendo maturing their online offerings, online game development is moving more and more away from PC and towards consoles, as the PC platform adjusts its role in multiplayer gaming:
"In a few years, consoles are likely to become the leading platforms for multiplayer gaming as we know it today (on mobile platforms, we are more likely to see the emergence of new genres of casual multiplayer gaming). Shooters are far from restricted to the PC anymore, and strategy games will probably make a breakthrough on consoles as well.
New control mechanisms and viewing modes will have to be defined but most publishers have projects in that direction. Ubisoft's voice-controlled Endwar could show the way. By the same token, MMOs will probably proliferate on consoles as well, since most of them now offer mass storage devices.
Will it mean the death of the PC as a multiplayer platform? Not at all. The PC will probably cease to be the main platform for hardcore multiplayer gaming, as it becomes an important one for casual and social gaming. The PC is also a hotbed for creativity. New multiplayer game concepts are likely to appear on the PC first."
You can read the full feature
on game design megatrends in the multiplayer field, which also discusses multiplayer gaming on mobile platforms, griefing, and gaming addiction (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).