Friday’s update was about Call of Duty, and since Ghosts is either still yet to come or just hitting the streets as I post this, I think I’m going to go over the main reason I’m not interested in it or Titanfall — I don’t need another multiplayer shooter. I’m sitting here wondering if it’s normal for people to jump to new multiplayer games every year or not.
People complain fairly often about how COD iterates too often and how so many games cram in multiplayer. What I’m trying to figure out is how many multiplayer games a single consumer really needs, or how many successful ones can fit in the market.
I might be atypical here — I’m the kind of person who’ll stick with one or two multiplayer games for like five years. Maybe it’s because I don’t play 30 hours of COD a week and get tired of the current game by the time it’s a year old. In any case, I think there are maybe four multiplayer games on my roster right now, and all of them are four years older or more.
In my post about COD I noted how Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Team Fortress 2 are probably still my multiplayer shooters of choice, and they both came out in 2007. Street Fighter IV has remained a staple fighting game for a lot of people since its release in 2008.
Then again, TF2 and SFIV have been upgraded many times since their initial releases. In fact my next multiplayer-oriented purchase is probably going to be Ultra Street Fighter IV. That might increase a game’s variety and longevity, but it’s not an absolute requirement. I probably played static games like GoldenEye or Super Smash Bros. Melee for years. Counter-Strike 1.6 has stayed the same for 10 years and people still play it.
Strangely, the fourth game on my multiplayer roster is NeoTokyo, a 2009 Source engine mod with an absolutely tiny playerbase. Somehow its unique blend of tactical sci-fi gameplay has managed to stick with me more than a lot of $60 multiplayer games despite being a free total conversion.
Perhaps the issue is how I’ve flipped over to PC. When you transition to a new console generation you need new games to play, oftentimes to fill old niches — racing, fighting, multiplayer shooter, etc. This is probably how a new multiplayer action game seems to take over with every new console generation, defining the experience of that generation, from GoldenEye to Halo to COD. On PC a single game can live for as long as the playerbase allows. That’s how Counter-Strike has lasted for 15 years. It’s very possible that at the end of this console generation a lot of people might still be playing the same games they’re playing now. In that kind of environment it probably takes a huge paradigm shift to flip those players over to a new game.
Perhaps Titanfall will be a big enough deal — a big enough innovation of its own, to potentially replace one of the games on my roster. People have called it simply COD with mechs and vertical movement, but there seems to be something more to what Respawn Entertainment is doing. If I heard correctly for instance, Titanfall will actually mix in AI characters with the human players in a way not unlike creeps from MOBAs. Its focus on story-based objectives also seems like a big departure from the norm. I’ll have to wait and see.
If I ever get the chance I’ll also probably take a peek at PlanetSide 2. Further out, I’m definitely gonna hop back into Metal Gear Online when it’s re-introduced with Metal Gear Solid V. Speaking of the PC-Console longevity difference, If there’s any multiplayer game I’m interested in this year it’s probably the Spies vs Mercs mode in Splinter Cell Blacklist. I was really into Chaos Theory’s multiplayer back in 2005 until it shut down, and if I get Blacklist I’ll likely get the PC version on a Steam sale. The console communities of that game will probably shrink once the PS4 and Xbox One come out, but I imagine it’ll live on a while longer on the PC version.
For now though, I feel like it’ll take a lot to change what multiplayer games I focus on for the foreseeable future. There have to be other people who feel this way too. COD4 still has a thriving community, and there are still people who basically play nothing but TF2.