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.
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.