Why is there a huge lack of split-screen games?

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This past week has been spent with my boyfriend at his house. We both love to game and so, in the weeks before, we tried to find a new co-op game we could play together. We wanted something new that neither of us had played before so we could explore a new story together. However, we looked everywhere, on the backs of every box, and not one of them had split-screen co-op.

But, almost every single game had online co-op. Mass Effect 3 and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City for example would have been perfect with split-screen co-op. Why then do they choose to do it online over local? The most obvious answer is that almost everyone has the internet now and with online gaming growing every minute, perhaps online gaming has become more popular than playing with someone in the same room as you. However, where’s the evidence to prove we don’t play with our “real” friends anymore? When I moved to university, I made gaming friends and we would buy (and still do) a game on the principle it’s local multiplayer – no one wants to come round and watch just one person game at a time. But there is a huge lack in these games and it’s becoming even more common to not have local multiplayer it seems to me games companies are missing out on a huge market. Families, students, couples…these are all the sorts of people that love to play games together and I feel that devs are missing out on targeting these groups.

It doesn’t make much sense to leave it out either. An online server costs money to run and maintain, and sometimes those servers eventually get shut down when they’re not so popular anymore to save money. A local version of this would cost them next to nothing in comparison, it would be so easy to implement so why don’t they? It seems we are being punished for having real life friends or playing with our families and that doesn’t seem right.

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Local co-op can make a crap game good in some cases. Okay, some would argue the polar opposite but hear me out. My boyfriend and I finally found a game with local co-op during our week together. Neither of us had played it before and it was under a tenner so it was perfect. It was called Hunted: The Demon’s Forge and it had been given average reviews but we thought we’d give it a go. It was good fun but I think the experience wouldn’t be as fun if you were playing it alone.

There’s no evidence to suggest gamers have gotten more anti-social in the past few years, in fact the Wii has proven we love to play games together, so please developers, don’t leave us without local co-op when you include an online version.

Why I will mourn for MGO

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Metal Gear Online’s servers are to be shut down in June, announced Konami. My friends and I are extremely upset by this. ‘Why?’ You may ask. I shall explain to you what MGO means to me and why it is so great.

Metal Gear Online was an online multi-player game that came with MGS4 in 2008. As far as I’m aware, it’s a pretty unique multi-player game. It combined the third person, over the shoulder sneak experience of the MGS games but with the ability to shoot the living hell out of each other. With standard games such as Team Deathmatch, capture the flag (except it was a frog or duck), there were also some unique experiences. One game had a single player paying as Snake, who had to take out the other players and steal their dog tags while the other two teams killed each other and looked out for Snake. There were also Team Sneak matches in which one team was “invisible” whilst undetected, who had to sneak their way to the target (again, a frog or duck). The list of game types could go on, but basically it was classic MGS. 

I haven’t seen that type of game play in any other game before. It forces you to work together (or alone in certain matches) and think tactically. You couldn’t just run in, guns blazing. Well you could but you wouldn’t score very highly. It also had huge character customisation (as you can see above). There were numerous outfits to buy, with new stuff each week – back in the day, when creating the character you could even choose their voice. Everyone was unique on the battlefield. 

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Why does it mean so much to me? Well I made a great group of friend through MGO. Well, not souly through MGO but it bonded us. We created a clan and that was it, the Rocket Minions were born. We still salute and sing the theme tune at meet-ups. Don’t give me that look. Back in the day we used to enter the tournaments that were held on the MGO server every week. We tried our luck against other teams, who were way superior to us, we never did that well and other people were jerks most of the time. So, because we were in it for the fun we played by ourselves in a private room, though we let other friends join in too, the more the merrier! It was our game and now that’s shutting down which makes me sad. It’s the end of an era but it does bring up one question…

Are they shutting it down because not enough people are playing it any more, or because they’re preparing for MGO 2? Either option is possible. Although whenever I went on MGO there were always people playing it, more servers (named after MGS characters) kept getting shut down due to less and less people paying. Also the DLC available for it was the only thing funding MGO, it probably became too expensive to maintain after four years of being online. I hope there will be an MGO 2, it’s a shame something like this isn’t as popular as COD’s online mode. Perhaps because it takes more skill to play MGO? Who knows, but if Kojima does make a MGS 5 in 2014 like Japanese analysts predict, it’s likely it will come with some sort of multi-player because it’s the done thing these days and they included co-op in PeaceWalker. Either way, I salute you MGO and I hope to see you again. *hums theme-tune*