Friday Flame War: EA’s Multiplayer Focus — Yay or Nay?

This week, Electronic Arts’ Labels President Frank Gibeau said that he wouldn’t be greenlighting any titles that don’t have some kind of multiplayer or online social component — as he put it, an extended content plan through which EA can keep players engaged.

As one can imagine, that sparked some vitriol, especially since EA isn’t the most-liked company ever. At Game Front, we’ve got dissenting opinions: some see this as EA’s slow destruction of the games they love. I kind of see it as EA setting a tone that will hopefully specialize it and attract games and players interested in their specific brand of game. Hopefully that will mean that EA will stop taking single-player experiences and multiplayer-izing them. Eventually.

But we put it to you. Do you like having a multiplayer option in your games? Do you play games primarily to play with others? Or do you see EA’s stance as “forcing” multiplayer on games that don’t need it, or want it? And here’s a big question — does your opinion on EA’s multiplayer stance change if that multiplayer is good (as early reports of Dead Space 3′s co-op seem to be)?

Make yourself heard in the comments!

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12 Comments on Friday Flame War: EA’s Multiplayer Focus — Yay or Nay?

SweetPea

On September 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Yay for co-op (with a few exceptions)
Nay for generic forced multiplayer (like ME3).

gasmaskangel

On September 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I don’t care really. I don’t play multiplayer and over the last year I’ve been so disgusted with EA that I haven’t considered buying any of their games so they can go fly a kite for all I care.

I am slightly annoyed at their putting forth this old (and frankly idiotic) argument again, since I seem to recall people talking about how we wouldn’t have single player games anymore by 2005.

Also, I think EA, and a lot of the people who make statements like this, really overestimate the popularity of multiplayer.

folklore

On September 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Ea used to be a nice company. This though is just short sighted. There are a fair amount of games that did well because they didn’t have to shoe horn in a multiplayer section. Frankly though, i still wish them an acid bath for the command and conquer generals 2 decision.

eddie

On September 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm

multiplayer focus is definitely not a good thing, while its great when done right, there are plenty of games that dont need it, mass effect and bioshock being two big examples of games that had no need of multiplayer that got it. God forbid EA or a similarly thinking publisher got their hands on the elder scrolls or any rockstar francises to name a couple who really dont need multiplayer at all

SevenCell

On September 8, 2012 at 9:40 am

Optional multiplayer is fine.
For the love of God, don’t make it the focus of a game.

Red Menace

On September 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

I’ve become an old man in gaming years. I can’t compete with these pesky twitch shooting whippersnappers hopped up on energy drinks and a snow day anymore! I work for a living, you carefree punks!

With that said, I really only play games for the singleplayer now, so, they’re shutting me out. Now, it is about the story for me, not pwning people. Do the kids still say pwning?

Someguy

On September 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Am I the only one who enjoyed Bioshock 2′s multiplayer? It was sort of a Cult thing, when more than 15 people at a time played it, and I think that as long as EA leaves dev’s that make single player games alone, I couldn’t care less..

sep

On September 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Just die EA. I really ing hope this company and its management crash and burn real ing soon. ethics and ter vision.

Disappointed J

On September 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

As long as EA hits several key points, there’s nothing wrong with it:

1) Multiplayer should not fundamentally alter the nature of the game. For competing examples, see Fable 3 verus the new Sim City. Fable made the multilayer component work because it was simultaneously fully integrated, and simultaneously fully independent. Sim City will fail on that account because they have fundamentally altered the game for multiplayer instead of integrating multiplayer into the existing experience.

2) A game should not be judged solely on the success or failure of its multiplayer. Spec Ops fell victim to this in the public arena, but I can imagine that somewhere down the line, some perfectly excellent single player game will be skewered in the corporate arena for failing to make enough multiplayer money. As long as EA is honest about the success or failure of its games, and honest and flexible about the criteria by which that success or failure is judged, I have no problem.

3) Any multiplayer element, especially one that is intergal to the individual experience, needs a solid retirement plan. I wonder if EA or Bioware has even considered how to handle the Galaxy At War system to keep the game playable in five years time. If they’re going to be forcing multiplayer into these games, they need to either commit to long-term legacy support somehow, or have easily implemented retirement plans for games where the multiplayer is integrated into the single-player experience. As a corollary to this, it should also be noted that if multiplayer is pushed as a significant element of the game, EA will need to provide adequate launch support as well.

4) Developers should be allowed to allocate resources to fulfill their vision, and if their vision is not multiplayer-centered, they should be allowed to reduce the resources allocated to multiplayer during the development cycle. EA’s executives should realize that this policy will lead to some games having idiotic, tacked-on multiplayer segments for the sake of having multiplayer. Developers should not be punished for fulfilling their vision, if their vision does not include multiplayer. On the flip side of that coin, if the focus of the game is multiplayer from its inception, honesty about the nature of the game during development will keep things like the new Sim City from happening.

These are just my takes on this. I can easily see EA botching all four of these. If they don’t, I won’t mind multiplayer. If they do, the policy becomes a problem.

Artichoke Lung

On February 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

The once-respected and long-running Ultima series died a humiliating death due to being forced to prioritise multiplayer at EA’s demand. Mass Effect 3 is widely recognised as, at best, lacking focus in part due to too much time spent developing a repetitive multiplayer mode and then cynically forcing players to use it for several hours in order to get the ‘best’ of the unvaried endings in the main game. There are other examples to draw on but they all lead to the same conclusion – EA is only interested in profit, it won’t let its own developers develop the games they want to, and it doesn’t give a rat’s scrote what the average customer thinks as long as there’s still enough of them still willing to spunk their money on this crap.

Freedonad

On February 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

@eddie
haaaaave you ever heard of ESO? http://elderscrollsonline.com/

Robert

On February 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I’m not a big fan of having to rely on other players in order to have a full gaming experience.