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Do We Thank Activision For The Multiplayer Boom?

These days, just about every game released features an online multiplayer option and many of the most popular titles in the world only achieved that lofty position due to that multiplayer action.

One could argue that Microsoft and Halo most inspired the multiplayer explosion on consoles, and selecting other revolutionary titles from other publishers would be a relatively simple endeavor. But Activision's bread and butter franchises - Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft - only rule(d) the world because of multiplayer. Granted, the latter is on PC and that platform has been utilizing MMOs for great profit since the late '90s, but the point is that Activision appears to understand the nature of the industry. They know that considering the global scope of the industry today, if they can get everyone to play together, they'll make billions. And so they have.

On the downside, many have called out CoD for having short campaigns and, in a sense, those who only play single-player (or don't care much for multiplayer) feel short-changed with each new installment. Guitar Hero was entertaining for a while when playing solo but let's face it; that name became synonymous with "party" fun. Call of Duty wasn't the massive blockbuster it was until Modern Warfare, when that game started to climb the multiplayer popularity charts. After supplanting mainstays like Halo and Gears of War, there was no looking back. This makes one wonder: Activision is the biggest publisher in the world. They're well aware of how they got there.

So is Activision most responsible for this multiplayer boom? Of course there are dozens of other factors but considering the sheer popularity of their multiplayer-oriented franchises, and the meteoric rise of their company, one has to consider the possibility that a single fast-rising publisher pushed multiplayer farther than anyone.

Tags: activision, games industry, multiplayer, call of duty

3/28/2011 10:50:21 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (52 posts)

maxpontiac
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:06:00 AM
Reply

No. I think the whole social experience of gaming was around long before Activision.

However, I think COD is to blame for a ton of things FPS related however.

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ace_boon_coon
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:11:54 PM

I think Halo started the online fps craze. But I think COD just ruined it.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:07:41 AM
Reply

i think it started with halo then transitioned over to cod. the quality of xbox live can not be dismissed in this equation, either. everybody has a headset. cross game chat seems to be important to a lot of people. it makes getting a game together with your friends a lot easier.

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Kiryu
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:12:50 AM

I don't own an xbox so can u please explain how very fun it is to play shooter while using headphones in the xbox community?

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maxpontiac
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:17:02 AM

Xbox Live may have influenced online social gaming, but it also brought about the worst thing that could have happened.

Paying to play.

Truth be told, the ONLY thing I see Live having over PSN is private chat and groups.

Still not worth 60 bucks a year.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:27:11 AM

it's just fun to be able to easily comminicate with your friends and adds to experience. it just makes it a more lively experience. it can give you a tactical advantage as well. you can tell your team where ememies are or to lookout behind them.

i've been playing a lot of the socom 4 beta, and i am very disappointed in the number of people who are using a mic on it, and on psn overall. there no way to tell a teamate to lookout behind you. very frustrating,

yes, you have to pay for xbox live, but you get a more robust online experience with that. everybody has a headset, also. psn can be a ghost town, sometimes. cross game chat helps you to able to easily commincate with your friends. it has been rumored cross game chat will be added to psn for awhile now. i hope it happens soon. plus sony needs to start including a mic with every ps3. the 60 dollars a year is very resonable, and close to what i pay for ps plus.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 3/28/2011 11:38:29 AM

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Cavan1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:42:17 PM

in theory your right, however in practise what it leads to is a bunch of annoying, underage, teenagers who think their big and funny by name calling everyone, plus add to the fact that everyone seems to have music playing which the mic pics up, making gaming a far worser expereince in my opinion.
Also it depends on the game, having chat options in cod is irrelevent, there is no great tactics in cod. I havent yet tried the new socom beta but in the other socom i had, where they bundled in the ps headset, i found that the vast majority of people wore headsets, and used them as the game is more more tactical than a run and gun game like cod.

For your quality of xbox live comment, i find it hard to take, i dont see any advantages except the cross game chat that it has over psn. ps plus is not like xbox live ps plus is mainly just for better deals within the ps store, cod is just as good on the psn as it is on live - except there is more commentary (babies crying in the background) than on the psn, but it does not effect the gaming experience one iota in my opinion, and certaintly not worth the price of admission.

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maxpontiac
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:21:35 PM

See, that's a myth. I chat with my friends in game in Killzone 3, MW2, SOCOM, and pretty much every game that requires tactical communication.

As far as SOCOM 4 is concerned, it's the BETA. The group feature is disabled, but will be in the full version.

I also see the fact that a lot people not using their mic means that I am not forced to endure the mindless rants of children. Killzone 3 for example, has plenty of people using their mics.

$60.00 to chat and group up with my friends is not worth it when the services the PSN offer matches Live, and then some.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:23:08 PM

well when i'm refering to quality i'm refering to the cross game chat, and everbody having a headset. i'm in no way speaking of the quaility of it's community. on a tactical game like socom 4 the headset is sorely missed. even on kz3. it would be nice to say hey look out behind you, but hardly anyone is using a mic. you can mute anyone you want if you are worried about crying babies. you know i could live without cross game chat, but i wish more people were using a mic on psn. i think sony should include a headset with each console. you can't really have a complete and robust online experience without it. so few on psn are using their mics.

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maxpontiac
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:33:15 PM

Well excelsior, you need to play with some people who do talk!

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CoolBLKguy
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:36:28 PM

I don't see anything about XBL that makes it so special or better than gaming online with the PS3 or PC. I played Gears of War online a LOT in 2008 and some other games and there's nothing special about XBL. You put the game in, select multiplayer, wait for the match to start then start shooting shit, same as PSN. I think people just want to justify paying for it, that's why they say it's better.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:59:50 PM

good point about the headset being bundled with socom. that was a great idea. i wonder if socom 4 will have a similar bundle. finally got a match going socom 4 beta where three of my team had a mic. that was more like it.

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big6
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 2:15:38 PM

@Excelsior1
I think your complaint about the headset and no talking in Socom 4 is not valid.
If you have been killed already and are sitting out, but able to view the remaining live players, you, of course, cannot talk to them. You're supposed to be dead so you can't communicate to someone who is still actively playing...that's cheating.
Maybe, on the Xbox, you can use cross-game chat to get around this but, again, that is cheating.

Wait... I reread it, and I think I may have answered the wrong thread. Oh well.. sorry...


Last edited by big6 on 3/28/2011 2:18:32 PM

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 4:07:47 PM

nope, i'm specificly talking about the number of people on there using a mic. i can't talk to my own teamate right by me becuase guess what, he does not have a mic.

just got done playing 5 rounds of killzone. 1 other person out of the 8 was using a mic on my team. 4 out of 16 overall in the session we were able to cordinate and come up with different strategies. it was more fun that way. we actually talked about hardly anybody having a mic, and we agreed it was more fun when people are using a mic. he sounded like he was 12, but was really good.

it's not a myth few use a mic on psn. at least not from my experience. that is my main complaint. freaking ghost town. it gets boring killing and killing on the same maps. a lively mic helps make it more fun.

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Clamedeus
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 4:34:10 PM

You can talk to them, they just won't be able to talk back. I've communicated to people who didn't have a microphone and they did pretty good with instructions.

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maxpontiac
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 5:24:48 PM

As I said, find some people to play with. It's better then randoms anyways!

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Clamedeus
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 5:35:10 PM

I don't play with randoms, i always play in a party unless a friend leaves. Then we get a random who sometimes doesn't have a mic but we tell them what to do we rarely lose matches.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 6:32:43 PM

thanks guys for your replies. great community here at psx. that's what i love about this site. i am working on building up friends with mic's on psn. it is a little harder to do that on psn. met this kid today on kz3 who had a mic and we absolutely dominated on bulgharsk boulevard. tied for 23 kills each. you can be a lot more agressive when someone's got your back. saved each other from melee attacks. great stuff, and a lot of fun.

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Clamedeus
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 6:55:18 PM

@Excelsior1 You can also go on the Sony forums and look for people to play and just type what you would like in a playing partner to play with.

www.playstation.com

Or

www.hupitgaming.com

I met people from my friend and now we are all friends. And found people on sites to play with as well.

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main_event05
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 7:29:09 PM

@ Kiryu
if you wanna know what it's like to play a FPS on Live, all you have to do is imagine a bunch of prepubescent boys repeatedly calling you a f** or a noob while an angry little ankle bitter barks non-stop in the background while constantly declining requests to join in some good ol' cross game chat. That pretty much sums up the whole experience.

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Kiryu
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 9:28:58 PM

@main_event05
haha.

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main_event05
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 9:39:39 PM

I wish that was a joke.

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Highlightreel
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:11:22 AM
Reply

Online for me started with SOCOM 1 back in 2002-ish. That was crazy. But it had a cool single player campaign also. I'm in the boat that some games force mp and that takes away from their efforts on campaign. COD mo def takes the cake for short crappy campaigns. There's no $15 charge applied to it like their dlc. They're spending all that campaign time on the future dlc packs.

Stay classy PSX

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Underdog15
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:11:48 AM
Reply

yeah, it's big with them, but they aren't to thank for the boom.

I've been playing online games forever, so in my case it's a definite NO. Additionally, I think Halo would be to thank long before CoD. And I don't think you can argue any original PC CoD's either, as it's likely Counter Strike is bigger than the earlier CoD's.

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big6
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:41:28 AM

I totally agree. I was playing DOOM when it first came out in 1994 and played it multiplayer via null modem cable for a while until Hubs were cheaper by the mid-to-late 90s. After that, it was Warcraft 1 and 2, then Age of Empires, etc.

Heck I even played a game called "Midi Maze" on the Atari ST computer in the late 1980s, where we could 'network' computers together via midi cables. That was my first true multiplayer experience. Anyone old enough to remember that game? lol

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AcHiLLiA
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:19:14 AM
Reply

I would thank them if they stop/block hackers from getting in matches.

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Godslim
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:28:46 AM
Reply

online for me started ages ago but i think cod did kick start it for many other gamers

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CH1N00K
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:39:28 AM
Reply

No, Activision just stole the idea from everyone else who had come before them and made it more accessible. Ask any PC gamer and they'll tell you that online gaming has been around for years. Or google some of the PC Battlfield 1942 mods and communities. Or ask any PS2 player about the Socom 1 and 2 community. Or any original Xbox player about Halo online or Lan parties.

Activision just profited of these previously mentioned companies hard worked and added their own spin to it. Combine that with a larger market of High Speed internet users that are around this generation, and it comes down to timing.

The only exception would be World of Warcraft, but even that wasn't an online game to begin with.

Activision has done some 'interesting' things with gaming, but whether they are to be thanked for it or not? Well they have gotten a lot of people into gaming who at one point wouldn't have condidered gaming as a past time. But watching how the market of good solid single player campaigns is depleting and being replaced by short campaigns and multiplayer modes that are riddled with pre-pubescent screaming tweens and angry immature 'grown-ups'..I think I'll give my thanks elsewhere...like to the guy that invented the mute option in online play! I would like to shake your hand!

Last edited by CH1N00K on 3/28/2011 11:47:01 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:58:54 AM

There's a very big difference: PC multiplayer gaming was restricted to the hardcore, plain and simple. Turning multiplayer onto the casual and mainstream group is something the PC may never have done.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:15:48 PM

absolutely agree with ben there. consoles brought it to the masses. i think we can trace the multiplayer boom back to xbox live and the original halo yes, pc players were blah, blah. it only became the multimillion or billion sensation when it went to the consoles.

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CH1N00K
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:28:27 PM

Okay so using PC gaming as an example could be taken the wrong way, but the fact of the matter is that Activision weren't the first ones to do this. But for whatever reason, they were the one to catch on. You didn't really hear a whole lot about online play with consoles until Modern Warfare, yet there are several games that came out prior to MW that tried the same thing.

Resistance came out a year before MW. FPS, Multiplayer online, Split Screen Co-op..Could it have been the game to beat MW if it had been Mulitplat? Probably not, but it might have.

Warhawk - a strictly online shooter - no campaign just pure arcade shooter. A little too arcady and simplistic maybe for the FPS core group and it wasn't an FPS, but it did come out 4 months before MW.

I don't know of any on the Xbox that came out before MW, not that there aren't any, I just can't think of them because I don't own one, but I think Halo3 would be in there somewhere at least. For the most part though, I think that that is closer to the answer then anything. Modern Warfare for the most part really has a majority of an Xbox fan base. (which could be why I often consider it an Xbox game) If you look at the sales of MW, Xbox vastly outnumbers PS3 sales. I think Black ops sold a million more on the Box then PS3 and PC combined...

As for Guitar Hero, I never got into it, but anytime I did play it, it was with friends in their living room, never online. I don't know how many people did actually play online, but I don't think the numbers were as substantial as what COD has done.

But Activision didn't do anything new, they just managed to do it in a way that created Mass Appeal. They sold the hype, and did it better then anyone else. That's what they did differently, other than their marketing team, they've done what everyone else before them has done. If it hadn't been them, it probably would have been EA, or S-E, or someone else...They just had a better PR department.

Last edited by CH1N00K on 3/28/2011 1:36:47 PM

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CH1N00K
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 3:03:14 PM

I think if anything, I'd say that Microsoft and Xbox would have more to do with the FPS online boom then anything. Especially since the PS2 was known for it's RPG's. FPS on consoles didn't really get going until MS showed that it could be REALLY profitable.

Last edited by CH1N00K on 3/28/2011 3:07:30 PM

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CharlesD
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 5:19:01 PM

I don't think of it as a question of who started it but if it's good for the industry in general. IMO I would say that it has quite a lot of pros and possibly more cons. Who cares how it started, COD, Halo, Count Strike etc. w.e. I'm more interested in weather or not it will lead systems and future productions in the right direction. Or the direction most of us would like to see it headed.

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big6
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:52:28 AM
Reply

I liked gaming on the PC back in the days when you could just connect to a person's IP, and play multiplayer that way.

Now, they want to monetize it by forcing you to go through their own network, like Battle.Net or GameSpy, etc. That killed online gaming for me on the PC...

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:22:10 PM

i will say this. i don't think the pc is at all responsible for the current mutiplayer boom. like ben mentioned those experiences were reserved to the ultra hardcore.

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SvenMD
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 11:53:41 AM
Reply

I agree with alot of people here in saying that MP has been around for some time, and it was huge on the PC long before Activision.

The difference is that these new consoles are the first to be SHIPPED network ready. So as soon as you get home, you can be online. This wasn't the case with the PS2, and I never bought the adapter to go online with the PS2. But one of my first games for the PS3 was Warhawk....an entirely online game....which is a completely new concept for me and many other people.

So now alot more people are getting used to the fact that games can be played with alot more people. Then alot of publishers starting placing MP aspects in their games. But I do think Activision centered their efforts on MP, and did elevate with each passing year. But I do not think they are solely responsible, or even that they are the driving force for the MP boom.

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kraygen
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:09:38 PM
Reply

I'd say yes and no. They obviously weren't the ones to come up with the idea of mp combat online. While I don't understand it they did however manage to sell a ridiculous amount of games that were sold primarily for their mp gaming.

Their sales have become so insane that many devs have begun to think that mp gaming is the only way to achieve those huge sales. So while it wasn't their idea, they are definitely responsible for more and more devs going that route.

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Radiohead
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:11:00 PM
Reply

Didn't the whole multiplayer boom start with that pc game Starcraft?

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Jawknee
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:24:07 PM

And Counter Strike.

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jimmyhandsome
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:39:51 PM
Reply

Its like the chicken or the egg argument....which came first? In this instance I believe that the availablity of high speed internet at an afforable price, and wifi-enabled consoles out of the box have certainly helped make CoD the billion $ franchise it is today. I actually had a Dreamcast hooked up to my 56k modem back in the day, completely with a keyboard! Sega was surely ambitious back then, and knew it would be a matter of time before consoles could hook up to the internet like they do today (and in great numbers).

Xbox Live also helped paved the way for console gaming. Streamlining voice chat, friends lists, and putting out titles that NEEDED to be played online (Halo 2 back on the original xbox....and even Halo 1 lan parties before it). Call of Duty has taken advantage of the age we live in, the games before it and the online infastructure thats already in place.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:47:00 PM

absolutely agree with that. live did pave the way on consoles by adding the features you mentioned, and making it EASIER to find your friends plus make new ones. harder to do that on psn.

people don't like to here that, but it's true. i also have to again mention my frustration in so few using a mic on psn. i spent an hour looking for someone that uses a mic in re5. been eating alot of static in the socom 4 beta as well. getting ready to take crysis2online so we will see.

listen, i think psn is great becuase it's free. i have not encountered any lag or anything. it's just a little lonely out there.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 3/28/2011 1:51:20 PM

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jimmyhandsome
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 2:39:52 PM

Agree with the lack of communication on PSN. Bundling headsets with a 1-year XBL subscription is one of the best things MS did IMO. It makes the games so much more enjoyable and actually seems like you're playing with other PEOPLE.

Playing KZ3 on PSN can feel like you're playing against bots sometimes. Its so refreshing when you actually have a few people on your team with headsets. This concerns me a little bit about SOCOM 4. Based off of past titles, the online matches are so much more enjoyable when you have teammates playing cooperatively by COMMUNICATING with you. Granted I can't compare that type of game to KZ3 where it's less important to have a headset, but if its any indication of the general PSN community its not looking good.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 4:18:23 PM

yep, the lack of communication is a real problem on psn. i was surprised at how poor it is. like i posted above, the amount of overall people using a mic on psn is not very high. that is not a good thing. it's not just cryiing babies or teanagers, it is a community that makes a game more lively.

sony should absolutely bundle a mic or headset with every ps3.

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Excelsior1
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 4:18:24 PM

oops, i double posted. don't have anything to say except people buy a mic, and sony include a mic with each console. so much better when team members have a mic.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 3/28/2011 4:31:10 PM

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BeezleDrop
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 12:47:30 PM
Reply

As Jawk stated, my real online competitive gaming craze started with Counter Strike, I just played the crap out of that.

I really cannot thank Activision for anything because they are furthering the idea that FPS mediocrity is well accepted by all gamers of all shapes and sizes. I can however appreciate the competition that has come from other Dev's trying to top their own MP experience.

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Lawless SXE
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:22:55 PM
Reply

Considering that it tends to have a detrimental effect on the overal length, quality and originality of the single player campaign, there's no way in hell that I'm going to thank Activision, or any other company, for bringing popularity to multiplayer. I'll blame them though.

They didn't start it. Not by a long shot. I remember playing Counter-striek Source back in my school days, along with Starcraft and a few other such games. Activision went a long way towards popularising it. The first game that quite a few of my friends played online was a CoD game, and GH is the go-to party game, so in my experience, they certainly played a part.
Peace.

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FM23
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 1:49:29 PM
Reply

CoD made MP as popular as it is today so I would say yes.

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gangan19
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 5:44:14 PM
Reply

The only thing you should thank activision for is ripping off gamers and ruining single player fps...and not even polishing the games to be next gen....guess it really all bout money huh

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Scarecrow
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 6:18:33 PM
Reply

No, there's no one to thank here.

More like we could dog on Activision for ruining this generation with mindless sequels.

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Lairfan
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 6:22:18 PM
Reply

Activision definitely didn't start it. Counter Strike, StarCraft, Halo, and a couple other games managed to establish and lay the foundations for multiplayer; Activision just came in at the right time to popularize it.

And I will not thank them for it. If anything, I'll curse them for the "lack of single player focus" disease that they seem to be spreading to many, many other devs. It would be completely antithetical to my views on gaming to congratulate them for this.

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Snaaaake
Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 9:32:14 PM
Reply

Counter Strike, the best FPS experience of all time.

Need I say more?

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Beamboom
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 @ 2:01:35 AM
Reply

Halo? CS? Starcraft? WoW?
Nooo, Quake ffs! ID Software started it all in the late 90s. Quake Arena was multiplayer only (you could practice against bots offline, that's all), and thus not only for the hardcore but the masses. Quake sold bucketloads.

It all started with Quake.

Last edited by Beamboom on 3/29/2011 2:01:45 AM

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