Blog: Do we really need multiplayer?
EA says hell yeah!
Recently in an interview with Frank Gibeau, head of EA games, he stated that every game NEEDS a multiplayer component. Naturally the internet went berserk like they usually do and started fighting about the validity of his statement.
Now whether you are siding one way or another , lets calm down a bit and think about this. Why is multiplayer so important? What’s the sudden rush for every publisher to showcase it despite the fact that in the past games focused much more on the single-player experience? The answer is quite simple: adding multiplayer is an easy way to greatly elongate the replay value of a game. Multiplayer easily accomplishes the main goal of publishers which is making you play their game for as long as possible. As internet became available to nearly every single person in developed nations, it became a useful tool to utilize to your advantage as a developer. The idea of having a mean that enables people to enjoy a multiplayer option regardless of whether they have someone to play with locally or not is a crucial play point in this current trend.
Now even though the multiplayer part of the game is an easy way for the publisher to glue the player to their game as much as possible, it doesn’t need to be a staple in every game. The addition of a multiplayer component surely revolutionized certain genres and even became the main attraction of them such as FPSs, RTSs, and Fighting games. However adding multiplayer to certain games maybe a huge gamble as it can sometimes backfire quite negatively. Let’s take for example the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy is known for its deeply unique single player experience that puts the player through huge amounts of hours exploring this vast world on your own. If Square Enix suddenly decide to add a multiplayer component to their main Final Fantasy titles, it may change how the formula worked forever. Some games are meant to be played alone, single-player, without anyone else involved. Adding people to the equation will conflict with the main theme that made the game what it is. If you want to play an RPG with people you go play RPGs that are meant for multiplayer such as MMOs and whatnot.
The bottom of the line is that Gibeau saying everything needs multiplayer is an overstatement. We have seen living examples of recent games that didn’t include multiplayer and has been hugely successful such as Infamous, Mass Effect 2, and God of War III. Publishers have other options to make sure people comeback to play their games such as introducing DLC, creating a long rich experience as with RPGs, and adding tons of achievements/Trophies to collect. It’s true that multiplayer is greatly important in some games, but a game doesn’t need multiplayer to be a staple in order to be successful. I am pretty sure that even 10 years from now, there will still be games that are pretty damn amazing with a wonderful single player only experience.