These days, gaming is more of a social experience. Multiplayer is part of almost every AAA release, and online gaming like World of Warcraft and Diablo is big business.
But what about us who don’t play well with others? What about the lone wolves who choose to craft their own path? What of them?
Well, slowly but surely, they’re being forced out.
Now, I shall preface this article by saying there is nothing wrong with multiplayer. I do like the odd game with my friends, either co-op or as enemies, but I much prefer a single player existence. One, it allows me to game on my own time, without waiting on others. Two, it allows me to do my own thing in certain games, such as open-world titles. Finally, three, most people who I do play against on-line are arseholes. You know the type, they seem to lurk on the servers only waiting to come out to shoot you in the back of the head or overall “troll” your game.
So yes, I am bias in this view.
However, my gripe arose this week due to a mobile game I was enjoying. Pixel People is simple enough, having you create your own little utopia with cloned workers in a variety of roles. It’s cheap, addictive, and didn’t have a bad thing about it. The only “meh” factor was reaching the max level of roles you could make without spending money. Not a terrible peak, as I’d blitzed through the rest, but one that just needed an update.
Well, the update came, and sure enough there were new roles to create. However, there was something else. An emphasis on “social” gaming was touted in the update, and once I had placed a building, I was told all about linking with my friends on Facebook. Personally, I didn’t want to link with my friends on Facebook, so I clicked through it and just left it there.
Until I logged in again, and had to go through the whole “linking with Facebook friends” tutorial again. And again. And every time I logged in.
With that, I gave up on Pixel People. A good game, ruined by an enforced “social” mode.
Now, this isn’t a new thing. Plenty of games that are available on Facebook demand you link and invite your friends to get further in the game. In fact, most mobile games do the same, even my beloved Simpsons: Tapped Out. However, the aggressive way Pixel People pushed it turned me off. I didn’t want to do it, but felt I had no choice to get rid of, if I’m honest, was a minor irritation. But an irritation nonetheless.
Today, most games are sold on their multiplayer, for better or worse. For every Grand Theft Auto V, whose multiplayer does look fun, there is a SimCity where it is badly handled. The single player is limited to make room for a multiplayer experience. One only has to look at the Call of Duty games to see that.
Is the future multiplayer? Some would argue it always has been, from the days of Mario Kart to the death-matches we all played in Quake. But back then, you had a expansive single player to enjoy as well. Even the Quake’s and Doom’s had bots you could play along with. Now, you’re expected to take on the world, and if you’re an antisocial gamer like me, you don’t want to take on the world. The world scares you, and makes you feel crap. It turns the game you loved, into a slog.
Let’s not forget the single player, for they are a solitary beast who enjoys the bubble they are in. Continue to make games for them, and maybe one day, they’ll come out from under the stone to see the world.
But don’t force them out.