Is The Multiplayer Boom Actually Hurting Game Sales?
Yes, I'm well aware that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold around 6 million copies in the month and a half after its release, but my question involves the psychology of online multiplayer fans.
You may not have noticed, but many who play MMORPGs like World of Warcraft simply don't play anything else. I really don't even consider them to be gamers, as they play one type of game for years on end. Now, I'm starting to see the same behavior from the rabid Modern Warfare fans: there are many who have played the original Modern Warfare online right up until the time the sequel released, and you can bet they'll repeat that procedure again. I'm not saying these online experiences are inherently addictive, but I am saying they seem to drain a lot of time from people and many have admitted to missing out on top-notch titles because they're stuck playing one particular title online. So in other words, of those 6 million who bought MW2, how many of them will buy Heavy Rain in February? I know they're two entirely different games but what about those who currently plan to buy Quantic Dream's ambitious project, then get hooked on MW2 and simply pass everything up, from Heavy Rain through even God of War III and Final Fantasy XIII in March?
These days, it seems as if the battle lines are being drawn: war is being waged between those who almost exclusively play online multiplayer and those who almost exclusively play single-player campaigns. I have noticed that those who get stuck on multiplayer have a lot of time on their hands, and they absolutely don't play as many games as the hardcore gamers who want to keep up with the industry. Missing out on the likes of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, inFamous and the amazing 2010 lineup due to constant online action seems downright reprehensible to me. Bear in mind I have nothing against the multiplayer boom, per se, but I wish some Western developers took the route the Japanese have taken with their big franchises: they gave us MGS4 to satisfy those who appreciate a wonderful story and an absorbing independent experience, but they also satisfied the other crowd with MGO. They give us FFXIII in March (it has no online multiplayer), which will soon be followed by FFXIV, which is only online.
In the future, I really want to see everyone do this. Multiplayer is big enough so entire games can be created with that object in mind; developers that attempt to produce both in the same package usually don't fully succeed in both respects. I think we all know the single-player campaign in MW2 isn't anything special while at the same time, despite the solidity and quality of the Uncharted 2 online experience, there's very little chance that anyone buys that game for multiplayer Deathmatch. So why bother? You could even make the strictly multiplayer games cheaper by making those entirely downloadable in the future (we're going in that direction, anyway). The bottom line is that many who play a lot online really don't care about any single-player experience, and the vice versa can be said about those who couldn't possibly care less about the multiplayer. And with the "time-sucking" aspect of these multiplayer games, and so many millions jumping in, how can sales of games like Heavy Rain not suffer?
Just a thought.
1/3/2010 10:04:14 PM Ben Dutka