Cliffy B’s Advice To Japan: More Multiplayer
I’ll admit it. I don’t much care for multiplayer. I mean, I get that multiplayer can be a lot of fun, but it absolutely does not belong in everything, and quite often the inclusion of multiplayer ends up ruining, or at least hurting what could have been a perfectly enjoyable single player experience. That said, there are some gaming genres that practically demand it, specifically straight-up shooters, and failure to include the feature seems like a huge oversight.
Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski agrees, and seems to think this might be part of the Japanese gaming industry’s recent difficulties making a dent in the world market. In a conversation with Gamasutra, he offered some comments to that effect, and he’s probably right. “My advice to Japan,” he said, “is that in a disc-based market right now, you cannot [ignore multiplayer].” For instance, talking about Grasshopper Manufacture’s Shadows of the Damned, a game Cliffy B. loved, he said “[T]he dialogue had me laughing out loud, just even the key-door systems in there; it was a beautifully crazy game with really fun gameplay.” But, he continued, “no multiplayer co-op experience in there. I’m not saying tack on versus; there’s a billion different ways you can do some sort of ‘players interacting with other players.”
He also had some tough love for Vanquish, Platinum Games’ shooter that failed to connect with consumers. “[I]f you’re going to make a third-person shooter… the fact that Vanquish didn’t have a multiplayer suite was a crime”. I agree, just so long as multiplayer is shunted into everything regardless of whether or not it makes sense. Fortunately, Cliffy agrees. “I’m not saying tack multiplayer onto every game,” he said. And I agree!
I’m also smart enough to know that multiplayer is profitable enough, and easy enough to support (more so than the creation of single player narrative content) that it isn’t going away. At least until people find themselves playing exciting TETRIS CO-OP and wondering what the hell happened.