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Will local-multiplayer survive in the video game industry?

What happened?

Recently, Fortnite became the latest success story in a long line of successful competitive online video games such as League of Legends, DoTA, and Counterstrike. In the month of May 2018 alone, Fortnite brought in a baf ing $318 million. Following this trend, many game franchises known traditionally for their local and multiplayer functions have removed their renowned split-screen or co-op functions in favor of online mode, notably Halo 5: Guardians and Call of Duty: WW2. This may be in the interest of the gaming industry, as each user must buy a game copy, console, and an online subscription, but a sizeable group of older (nostalgic) gamers want the return of local-multiplayer.

What does this mean?

The mainstream industry view is that online is the future and local multiplayer is not nancially viable. How- ever, for a sizeable minority, the joy of videogaming comes from sharing the experience with someone in the same room, playing the old co-op “party games”. Indeed, Nintendo has experienced tremendous success by releasing family-friendly co-op and split screen games. To illustrate, its recent Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling console in history, with classic, split-screen compatible titles such as Mario Kart. The same is true for PC games with similar gameplay such as Minecraft and Divinity: Original Sin.

What’s next?

The market for old-school local-multiplayer is gaining traction with the rst generations of gamers (now in their thirties and forties), who often have children and want to play with their families or who simply don’t have time to play complex games in a highly competitive online environment. Moreover, it seems that the so-called Nostalgia Pendulum is at work here as well. Just like Net ix’ Stranger Things appeals to an adult audience which has fond memories of ‘80s and ‘90s television, today’s family-oriented, multiplayer games represent a return to the games and the kind of gameplay these adult gamers experienced in their own childhood.