If the future of games is online only, you can count me out

Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke

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I’m not interested in online multiplayer games.

While I enjoy plenty of games, I’ve just never really seen the attraction of playing online with a bunch of strangers. Now, rumors suggest that all gaming might one day be 100% online. If that’s the case, I guess I’ll just stop playing.

My reasons for not bothering with online play are various but simple. I generally enjoy games as a solitary way to relax. Sure, I’ve done my time with Super Mario Kart, Wipeout, that sort of thing. But give me the far west of Red Dead Redemption to explore quietly on my own and I’m really much happier. Every time I’ve tried that particular game’s multiplayer, for example, I’ve ended up being shot by someone on a far away mountain with a sniper rifle, moments after spawning. It’s not much fun and it gets boring pretty fast. I’m also not that good at games and like the opportunity to go back and try again, a tendency which would render me a dangerous liability in any kind of team game like MAG.

So what is my point? Well, I’m worried that games seem to be heading towards a future where it’s online and multiplayer, or nothing. Rumors surrounding the PS4 and Xbox720 suggest that both systems ‘might’ use online-only DRM mechanisms to prevent game piracy, and reduce the alleged profit loss caused by second-hand games sales. Similarly, EA’s SimCity, launching shortly, apparently must be connected to the internet to run.

I don’t deny that online multiplayer is really popular. But apparently, 38% of gamers play alone. I hope that the game console manufacturers and game publishers will remember that when they specify upcoming titles. The idea of requiring an one-use code for multiplayer makes sense to me: this way, games can be resold and publishers continue to make a bit of cash to run their servers and so on. This is the way to go. Because I don’t want to be forced to play online and I have a feeling that there are plenty of other not-quite-casual and not-quite-hardcore gamers out there just like me.

Is gaming headed to an online-only, all multiplayer future? It’s too early to say but some signs point in that direction. I hope the business interests involved recognize that there remains a decent minority of gamers who just aren’t interested.

Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke

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