Russell Carroll wrote a great article: Offline: Why Online Multiplayer isn’t all that Important. While there are some good points in that article, I believe some of the points can be used to argue why online multiplay mode is that important.
First of all, in that article it’s said that “online multiplayer is nice, but I think it’s a feature that is a bit over-rated”. While I somewhat agree with that point, I must add that there are players (like me) who play games only for the multiplayer feature. Battlefield 1942 and Battle for Middle Earth are great when played online, but I wouldn’t – and haven’t – touched the single player modes.
Multiplayer gaming is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that online multiplayer modes are all that great. Unless I’m playing in the same room as the person I’m playing against, I lose the emotional and physical connection that makes multiplayer games fun.
Again, this depends on the player. While it’s fun to play in the same room I also don’t think a “emotional connection” would be lost if you are playing with a guy who is in different city. I remember several years ago playing Rogue Spear with several friends of mine, and even when we were located in different cities the ability to talk and play online together was more than enough. I also enjoy playing with total strangers and have fun online – I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
And then, just like attending a virtual dance from my living room, that empty feeling of online multiplayer would creep in, and I’d soon find myself, once again, totally ignoring the online multiplayer mode, and instead solely playing the single player and local multiplayer modes (same room = real fun).
I personally don’t seek for same feeling when I play online. I like to really get immersed in the game, not for the living room ,when I play online. I like to challenge friends, and that’s it. If I wanted everybody to be in the same room we might play billiard, cards or pen & paper role playing games rather than computer games.
I believe different people seek different feelings from multiplayer games, and some games are better suited for multiplayer mode. It must also be noted that when playing online, the meaning of game might change: the game might become less important, and simply the challenge against friends becomes more important.
Online multiplayer is a great idea, and gets better when the game gets home. With online multiplayer games you can really find challenge (and leave stupid AI away) and can play when you feel like it – not when the time schedules fit to arrange a game session in somebody’s home.
Online multiplayer is all that important – for some players.