They say in life you don’t really miss something unless it’s gone. Its true though, there’s something quite nostalgic about looking back at times once gone. Change is a natural occurrence throughout any industry, it takes many forms. Often these changes are reflected due in part to financial survival – long since have the days of ten pence Freddo bars gone.
The current generation of console gaming has seen many changes Over the last decade we’ve seen a rise in season pass content, paid DLC, and online gameplay take precedent at the forefront of triple-A titles. Gaming in many ways has adopted a remote play approach. Top selling online multiplayer titles often do incredibly well in an oversaturated market rife with competition. Overwatch, Destiny and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds have all recently gained their fair share of praise and sales due to their push for multiplayer gameplay.
Success in the field of online multiplayer certainly deserves credit. Battleground’s, in particular, should be commended for bringing together a record a staggering 2.5 million concurrent players on steam at its peak to date. However, with this increased demand for single player online gameplay, the detriment seems to be at the loss of local couch co-op titles. Since Call of Duty has moved onto Ps4 and Xbox One we’ve seen a far more stripped back look at couch co-op gameplay. Gone are the days of four player splitscreen, replaced instead by two player splitscreen at best. True, the Xbox One has the bonus of backwards compatibility, but even the likes of Call of Duty have significantly polished up on graphics and movement mechanics in their latest instalments.
True, there are still four player co-op titles out there. FIFA 18 will still allow you to team up with three of your mates so that you can come together, drag your defensive line out of position and leak three goals to Accrington Stanley, but its the FPS genre that’s really taken a hit. For those looking to get in on a bit of four-player couch co-op action, the most promising title left in the genre is arguably Borderlands 2 which can be purchased on both the Xbox One and PS4. For those fantasy fans, titles such as Gauntlet will allow you to crawl through dungeon after dungeon, each member of your team sliding into his or her own role in order to battle back the hoards of undead that surmount wave after wave of attack.
FIFA 18 will still allow you to team up with three of your mates so that you can come together, drag your defensive line out of position and leak three goals to Accrington Stanley, but its the FPS genre that’s really taken a hit.
From a financial standpoint, it makes total sense to strip back couch co-op. Want to play with your three housemates? Okay, buy two to four PlayStation 4’s, each invest in a subscription to PlayStation Plus, then buy a minimum of two copies of the latest title to tickle your fancy and off you go. That is, of course, so long as you have the right number of monitors. In addition, you’ll probably need a headset, unless you live in a house with thin walls then perhaps you can just bellow from one room to another in a desperate attempt to save money.
Of course, then there’s always additional DLC. Now, nobody will ever force you to fork out an extra fifteen to fifty pounds on a season pass, but often not doing so means there’s a fairly significant amount of content that you won’t be able to access across both singleplayer and multiplayer game modes.
What I don’t understand is why there isn’t a publisher which solely just creates a four-player couch co-op title. Sure, it might not sell as well. But, with a complete gap in the market, one decent couch co-op title would likely dominate that corner of the market, there is still a consumer base for four player content. Arguably if every developer started shipping four player content back into their games then there would be no financial gain for anyone, but if one publisher invests, it could pay off.