Integrated Multiplayer is the Future of Console Gaming

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While playing The Division yesterday afternoon, Graev and I discussed how we feel that integrated multiplayer is definitely the future for console games. The industry has dipped its toe in the idea of sharing a single-player world with other players, and limiting their interaction to on-demand or only in certain areas, for a very long time. Only in recent years have we seen a real surge toward this idea of building “multiplayer” games around a “single-player” or instanced/phased experience on the console devices.

Destiny wasn’t the pioneer in this technology or idea, but definitely gets the credit for pioneering it on a grand scale. In Destiny, the main hubs were like lobbies where players could see other players yet if you so chose you never had to group up with anyone. I would love to see Destiny’s data to see how many people were in fact only playing by themselves.

Seeing other people is huge. Why? Several reasons. Seeing other people makes the game feel popular and alive. It’s that “other people are doing it so I’m not alone” mentality. Then there’s seeing other people and aspiring to be like them. The psychology behind seeing a player decked out in gear and wanting to be just like him is a massive pull for these games to hook players and keep them pushing hard to get more more more. That urge to “be the best” or “be that cool guy” is all the more reason to buy the DLC so you can stand around town and look cool with the rest — not to mention you won’t be standing in the same town as others if you don’t buy that DLC.

Integrated multiplayer is also a quick and easy way to slap “multiplayer” or “MMO” or whatever label devs want onto a box. Better yet, it’s a way to derive an entire system of you game. The Division uses their integrated multiplayer somewhat similar to Destiny in that you can see the other players when you seamlessly “zone” into a hub (safe house), and they also use it for Dark Zone. Dark Zone (DZ) is the center of the map and players can cross over into this no-man’s land of open-PvP gameplay. This is the only place in the entire game where you could attack or be attacked by other players. It’s a unique part of the game designed to create interaction between players.

Integrated multiplayer is the new fad, ad likely the future for reasons outlined above. I won’t be surprised if the next Elder Scrolls RPG uses this technology to make Tamriel feel more “online”. The next Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or any other big RPG could easily swing this direction to allow players the opportunity to team up easier and provide that “connected” experience. So perhaps my title is even too limited in scope. Perhaps integrated multiplayer can be the future of all these RPGs and single-player games — but definitely console.

  • I am seeing to much potential negative sides of integrated multiplayer in RPG’s and single player games.
    Random people tend to break immersion by running like beheaded chickens everywhere and other weird behavior.
    Easiest example would be the tutorial in the division, where people are waiting to use the laptop to register their character.
    Scripted npc would make for a much better immersion.

    Now add trolls, screaming kids and tea bagging idiots.
    No thank you…. You can keep that “connected” experience.
    Stay away from my immersive games.

  • @Zyler: But that’s the beauty of integrated multiplayer. You see them only in the way in which the game allows. Sure, The Division’s starting area was jam packed. But control that experience better and you have an experience closer to what it’s like in random hubs in The Division where you see 1-10 people just going about their business as agents. It can even help.

  • I don’t know how integrated you expect, but PC games tend to have more hackers and botters than Console Online games. While I don’t play console, I’d imagine they wouldn’t want those jackasses ruining their day.

    Also, as far as FPS is concerned, you have a mouse user vs a gamepad user and it’s pretty obvious who’s more likely to win.

  • Integrated multiplayer means integrating multiplayer into single-player experiences. Allowing a seamless transition of bringing in and incorporating multiplayer without disrupting the more controlled experiences of the game.

    Cross-platform is bringing players on one platform into another. That’s another topic altogether. We are seeing some headway there with Microsoft bending and allowing Xbox and PS4 players to game together in upcoming titles.

  • Ah crap. I was reading an article about Cross-Platform gaming and then came back to Keen’s blog to reply to HIS article and… I fail.