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Local co-op is on the verge of death. What happened?

Nintendo is one of the last major publishers/developers to have an intrinsic focus on local multiplayer.
Nintendo is one of the last major publishers/developers to have an intrinsic focus on local multiplayer.

In earlier years Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox consistently advertised an incredibly popular, and for most widely regarded as a must have component for consoles. A feature that has started being phased out over the last decade — local multiplayer.

Today, that must have component is thought of as a non-essential feature by both developers and gamers alike. With the popularity of PC gaming, and the intent focus from Xbox and Playstation being on online multiplayer, in-person co-operative gaming is nearly dead.

Nintendo has shown dedicated support for the dying feature, but the variety in their style of games is heavily lacking. While their selection does provide wonderful classics like Mariokart, Super Smash Brothers, and Mario Party, their are not enough games that have an exciting story or intense gameplay for two or more people to enjoy and experience together in-person.

The game mode didn’t die with the PS3 and Xbox 360 either though.  Games like Halo, Call of Duty, and sports games still provide some local-play fun, but the amount of new IPs foregoing local multiplayer leaves the diversity of options very thin.

The upcoming releases of Destiny and Evolve, games that seem like they would be perfect fits for a local co-op experience, have elected to focus their resources elsewhere.

Even looking beyond just first-person shooters, where are the 3rd-person adventure games and action games? What happened to the fun of Tony Hawk Pro-Skater, Metal Arms: Glitch in the System, and Star War: Battlefront 2? Were those games really not benefited by the inclusion of local co-op?

Perhaps there truly isn’t a large enough market for the lacking feature. It seems for most gamers, online multiplayer is the only vital inclusion of most contemporary games. As of right now, local multiplayer is hanging on by a string from the likes of Nintendo and a few classic franchises.

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1 thought on “Local co-op is on the verge of death. What happened?

  1. There’s been several indies on PSN recently that support it, like Cel Damage HD, Towerfall: Ascension, SportsFriends, Tiny Brains and that upcoming VizionEck weird-ass game. One problem is that controllers are more expensive than ever.

    I think Diablo 3 also supports 4-play.

    This thread may be of interest:

    I typed this before fully reading your article, obviously. You’re talking about any kind of co-op, plus for major AAA releases. Well they definitely could offer it. Perhaps they don’t see the demand. They will say, “we already have enough problems trying to reach 30 fps using all these graphical effects..” but 4-player and 2-player split screen in the past always sacrificed graphics and speed.

    The pricing models these days often factor in online DLC stuff, like maps and other things that are geared toward online gaming.

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