Posted on August 29, 2012, Ross Lincoln Yager Dev: Spec Ops: The Line Multiplayer ‘Cancerous Growth’
Maybe it’s that the industry, eager to squeeze the last dregs of money out of the current generation, have jacked up its expectations for what a game not called ‘Call of Duty’ or ‘GTA’ can really deliver, maybe it’s the recession, maybe it’s just poor luck. Whatever it is, major release games performing below expectation seems to be a running theme for the industry in the last year or so. Take Spec Ops: The Line. It wasn’t a flop, exactly, but it sure wasn’t a hit. I’m sure plenty of people at Yager and 2K have their own theories about what hurt it, but if you ask lead designer Cory Davis, it’s because of the “b*llshit”, “tacked on” multiplayer.
“The multiplayer mode of Spec Ops: The Line was never a focus of the development,” Davis said in an interview with the Verge. “But the publisher was determined to have it anyway. It was literally a check box that the financial predictions said we needed, and 2K was relentless in making sure that it happened — even at the detriment of the overall project and the perception of the game.”
Over Davis’ objections, 2K outsourced development of the game’s multiplayer, resulting in what Davis says is nothing but a “low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person.” Davis stated that the multiplayer discard key creative elements of the main game. “It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience,” he said. “The multiplayer game’s tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money. No one is playing it, and I don’t even feel like it’s part of the overall package — it’s another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating.”
Ouch. I wasn’t in on the development, but I can’t imagine Davis isn’t right. The current landscape is littered with games that should have remained single player, but instead were crammed with superfluous multiplayer content at the expense of the main game. And in one particularly obvious instance, it probably ruined the game.