Over the last year we have seen several titles release with a multiplayer inclusion and have been excited about the different tournaments that can be created to extend the playability of the game and continue fostering the team building and communities built around it. But then we get the game and start testing to only find that sure the “Multiplayer” label is affixed to the game but no true means of really fostering a team or community for that matter.
So let’s go back a few years so I can help you understand where I am going with this. And keep in mind PC Gaming had already started this trend with games like CounterStrike, but that was not my introduction to multiplayer. On PlayStation 2, a game called Socom was launched with this new feature called Multiplayer. Online gaming was a new concept for consoles and this seemed pretty cool. You could play with different players and the experience would be absolutely different every time since you were playing with humans instead of programmed characters.
The next thing you know it, someone asked if I would join their clan or team for those not familiar with the term. Of course I have played with these guys a few times and enjoyed playing with them so I of course said sure. Next thing I know I have registered on the clan’s website and have instantly become a member of this highly focused community built around playing a game.
At the time I did not see how much of a big deal this would be, but later in life it would prove to be the friendships and team building aspect of this was unsurpassed by any other experience in gaming. Some of these clans have run strong for many years and like any team, many have had conflict and caused the creation of new clans.
So with that in mind you can look at the playability of a game and how this team building would foster a completely new breed of gaming now known as competitive multiplayer. Tournament communities started to spring up everywhere giving games a whole new life with teams competing for prizes, bragging rights and more. Suddenly your clan had a new purpose, not only are you playing with a group so you kind of knew who would do what, but now you could take your clans skills and pit them against other clans with a structured environment behind the scenes.
Fast forward about ten years to today and many of these tournament communities have come and gone and some have thrived. MLG is probably the best example of a thriving business built around competitive multiplayer. The business brings in several millions of dollars with their tournaments through sponsorship and attendance. Even Richard Branson jumped on the competitive gaming train with the launch of Virgin Gaming in 2010.
The big winner out of this business segment really has been the games themselves, as this creates a long lasting playability to a game. If done right a multiplayer portion of a game can be stretched out to years versus a few months. There is no beating the game, no trading in of the game, just endless play with your clan mates.
Now let’s look at the games of the last year or so. Multiplayer seems to have become more of an afterthought then a true focus. In the original Socom for example, you could create a room with a custom title like “My Clan Tryouts” and it made expanding your team very efficiently, this was what we call the lobby system.
In today’s games there are no lobbies, and even more so less means of even creating a private match. Socom 4 did have a clan match making system but it did not let you create any custom parameters to a match. Battlefield 3 launched with no private match making at all and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s private matchmaking is plagued with issues on PS3 causing communities such as ours to postpone or even cancel tournaments.
What do we have to do to get the game developers to take a step back and realize that with the right design, multiplayer can make their game more profitable? Let me explain how…
So let’s pretend a multiplayer game came out with the prized features like these:
- Private Custom Match Making
- Lobbies or User Created Rooms
- A Clan Management System
These three simple systems together foster a long life of playability of a game, also giving a developer the opportunity to sale DLC such as map packs and expansions. Here is how…
With the ability to customize a private match, a tournament community can offer unique game play by changing the parameters of a game, giving players a completely different experience with the title. This can also keep the competitive play fresh with different setups, weapon restrictions, etc. While a good clan management system give members of the team the ability to manage their rosters, group up for game play and provide structure. And finally with a lobby system, the clans are able to promote recruitment, host events and even show off what tournament they are playing in.
This breeds for longevity gameplay, giving the developer the right formula to sale additional content. If you have strong tournament communities developing long term events, many will incorporate the new content to freshen up the tournaments. The PlayStation 2 Socom’s are a perfect example for our community… we were able to run a tournament from the day it launched until the day the next title released. Even with Confrontation we ran a tournament up to the Friday before Socom 4 released. That is just shy of three years of game play on a single title. Yet when the DLC was released, we quickly adapted a tournament specifically for it.
Now with today’s games, the community building portion of the game has gone. There is no way to foster the building or reinforcement of the clans and there are no stable private match making options in the game.
Is this the end of clans as we know it today? I still play with clan members from almost 10 years ago, but now it is almost impossible to get together and play. We invite all developers to contact tournament communities such as ours and even Gamebattles. The ability to include these three simple features can give a game the means to generate additional revenue, keep a strong fan base and breed a whole new generation of competitive gamers.