Is Sony Missing the Importance of Multi-player Gaming?

Source: PlayStation.com

The PlayStation 4 from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) is off to an explosive start. With the company reporting 5.3 million units sold as of February 8, the PS4 has already eclipsed its initial fiscal-year target of 5 million units sold. With the Nintendo  (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) Wii U finding little in the way of consumer interest and the Microsoft  (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One being bogged down by a prohibitive price point, Sony is in great shape to win the current round of the console wars. There's more to it than that, however.

A successful gaming venture will take more than the right hardware at the right price. In many ways, the PS4 couldn't be off to a better start, but it's important to remember that software will play a major role in determining the platform's success. At this point, Sony's studios don't look to be delivering when it comes to multi-player games. Has Sony erred by not promoting a multi-player focus?

The perils of freedom
Sony has built a reputation for allowing the developers under its wing a greater deal of creative freedom than would be seen at Microsoft or Nintendo. The PlayStation company has been more aggressive with its creation of new IP and it has shown a willingness to devote substantial resources to games that don't fit neatly into the traditional formulas for success. Sony's broader output has been widely praised in recent years, but the sales of its games have often failed to match those from its main console competitors.

Going solo

Source: PlayStation.com

Two of Sony's biggest 2014 PlayStation 4 games have no multi-player modes. Infamous: Second Son and The Order: 1886 are sure to be graphical showpieces that demonstrate the capabilities of the hardware, but the omission of a multi-player mode is almost certain to limit their appeal. As development budgets have climbed higher and higher, multi-player mode has become a must-have feature. A good multi-player mode keeps players engaged with a game, reduces the likelihood of trade-ins, and encourages users to promote the game to their circles. There are good reasons why strictly single-player games are a rarity in the triple-A software model.

Order of importance
While Sony's upcoming racer Driveclub features a major social and multi-player emphasis, The Order: 1886 looks to be PlayStation 4's biggest exclusive in 2014. Its game play combines elements of "Resident Evil," "Gears of War," and the "Uncharted" series. All of these franchises have proven that multi-player broadens a game's appeal and commercial success. A lack of multi-player mode may allow more time and resources to be devoted to making The Order a polished and compelling solo experience, but it looks like Sony could have steered the project for greater commercial success.

What are the other players up to?
If Sony seems to be ignoring the importance of multi-player, Nintendo and Microsoft's upcoming games seem largely focused on the communal experience. Mario Kart 8 and the next Super Smash Bros. are set to hit the Wii U this year and both titles are primarily multi-player affairs. Nintendo has repeatedly failed to deliver compelling online experiences, and it has instead chosen to emphasize local multi-player. While Mario Kart and Smash could buck this trend, each game's online play will probably be lacking by modern standards.

A feather in One's cap
With the release of Titanfall from Electronic Arts, the Xbox One looks to enjoy a considerable advantage in the online multi-player department. The game does not feature a traditional single-player campaign mode, and instead the entirety of the game is a multi-player experience. Whether the lack of an offline campaign mode hurts the game's appeal will undoubtedly be watched by publishers. Titanfall is viewed by many as a game that has the potential to define the next generation of shooters. Even if Halo 5 doe not launch in 2014, Microsoft looks to have made a strong case for the Xbox One as the console of choice for fans of online shooters.

Source: Xbox.com

A weakness of Sony's managerial style
Sony's multi-player problem doesn't just extend to its upcoming releases, it was also evident at the PlayStation 4's launch. Killzone: Shadow Fall was put forth as the system's big exclusive game, but the title shipped with mind-boggling deficiencies. Prior to a December patch, Shadow Fall lacked in-game voice chat. Shipping your premier first-person shooter experience without that feature in 2014 is inexcusable and Sony deserves criticism for a lack of developmental oversight. It's the type of failure that one would expect from Nintendo and never see from Microsoft. Halo 2 shipped with in-game voice chat in 2004.

A window of opportunity for Microsoft
Sony currently enjoys an enviable position in the console race. The company has undeniably produced the hardware that is best suited to achieve market leadership in this cycle. That said, what we've seen on the software side doesn't inspire much in the way of confidence. The lack of a compelling multi-player game in 2014 shows that Sony is failing to serve one of the key early adopter demographics. As a result, Microsoft has an opportunity to make up some ground.

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Read/Post Comments (34) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2014, at 2:25 PM, Njancek wrote:

    Contrary to popular belief, there are still *many* gamers who enjoy a single player experience.

    I'd rather see more all-single player games, than all-multiplayer games.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2014, at 6:06 PM, JaredM80 wrote:

    so are they pretty much implying EVERY game HAS to have multiplayer? don't feel like reading the whole thing. not every game has to have it but it's fine, just dn't let

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2014, at 6:07 PM, JaredM80 wrote:

    scratch the last sentence, lost my train of thought.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2014, at 8:09 PM, Holyfire wrote:

    Really, Wasn't following Titanfall, but no single player?? No campaign. Hmm, I think that game will turn into just another FPS fragfest. Ppl will get bored of it and give up on it. Not a system selling title by the looks.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2014, at 8:22 PM, bluesky64 wrote:

    Keith,

    I agree Sony my be missing the multi player for now and there are many other great add on for the future. But let's make some $ now. What I'm talking about is investing for what going on now. Explosive growth game consoles AMD chips. Monday should be a very good day. Now that AMD has company funding taken care of til 2019 saving millions on the way and sold out conditions on many product fronts and a very depressed stock price what a lucky combination share holders have going for them.

    new price target $ 10.75 Dec 2014

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 1:00 AM, NeroSable wrote:

    I have more singleplayer games than i do multiplayer, I only have about 33 multiplayer games out of 118 games on PC, 2 multiplayer games on console out of 16 without counting PSN downloads which most are singleplayer as well. I will gladly have a good story from a singleplayer game than having a game that has multiplayer that I can easily lose interest. Titanfall is in no way a system seller really, to me and im sure to others its just a Call of Duty type game with mechs and some Halo mixed in. My most replayed game is Bayonetta and guess what it doesn't have multiplayer in it I love the game for its interesting story and its hack and slash gameplay.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 3:53 AM, TrueGamer4Life wrote:

    These so called reviewers and doom and gloom so called articles are so off when it comes to this next generation of gaming and the consoles. Multiplayer experiences are great but certainly don't sell consoles and neither do single player experiences. What sells are great games with cult like following. Lets see more games released before we really start to have a formed winner or loser. The night is still young.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 7:41 AM, alanjoe wrote:

    Though single player games are still preferred, the gaming market is leading more towards multi-player games. The latest multi-player game titanfall is an incredible play.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 10:25 AM, EvilWithin wrote:

    I don't think Sony is missing the mark, true they don't have many multiplayer games in the works. However as the developer for The order said n multiplayer but things can change. it wont stop me from buying it I cant wait for it. Also Titanfall isn't going to be a game changer like everyone thinks. 1 being an online game only means your internet has to work so if your provider goes down you cant play or if you modem goes down, or god forbid xbox live. Second Being made for only the Xbox's isn't going to be too profitable. 3 Sony learned these lessons with SOCOM Confrontations being an online only game.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 11:43 AM, iggy452001 wrote:

    Hey mate, you do realize as of now that the Xbox 1 is reported to not have "in game chat" so one of your last paragraphs stating that this is not done by M$ is a load of bull. Also Resogun, and Killzone both have multiplayer. M$ also lost Minecraft as an exclusive which is a huge online multiplayer game. Sony is also getting The Elder Scrolls online first. Not to mention that Destiny is set to dwarf all other online shooters, they are the creators of the genre, and do you think another company making their game will do any better, Halo 5 will be nothing compared to Destiny. Titanfall may look pretty on the outside, but there have already been numerous reports of people getting bored quickly while playing the Beta, so it may just be a splash in the pan. Many of the Hard Core gamers also appreciate a game like Infamous being made without a crappy online side like Bioshock 2. Look at the success rate between Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinity and your whole argument becomes some idiot's opinion.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 12:34 PM, spikex2 wrote:

    Titanfall? The 6v6 multiplayer only game that cost $60?

    Did the idiotic author forgot about COD:GHost and BF4?

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 12:59 PM, djdan1 wrote:

    You guys should feel lucky that Bungie is making games for all consoles...

    Meaning; if Bungie wouldve stayed on at MS. Then you wouldnt be getting Destiny at all...& for that matter Titanfall either.

    Titanfall is a unique multiplayer...For any that have played Spec Ops in Halo 4...Titanfall will be centered around a storyline.

    For those that havent played it yet, but commenting...shhhhh!!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 1:34 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    Destiny, CoD, GTA V, Madden, NBA 2Kn, NHL, etc. The PS4 will have plenty of multi-player.

    They won't have Halo, Gears of War, or the first Titanfall. But they have KillZone, they'll have Uncharted n, and later Titanfall games.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 1:47 PM, Jason1 wrote:

    I'd rather see more 1P games also. I generally ignore the multiplayer portions of games because they just don't interest me. It's why I don't buy COD any more. 1P campaign takes a few hours & then it's useless to me. Games like Skyrim or Fallout, I can play for months.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 2:39 PM, TheC777 wrote:

    Titanfall will last at most until the next shooter releases... COD, BF, Halo, Destiny... whatever.

    Obviously that is what he means by "multiplayer."

    @djdan1

    You should feel lucky that xbox has paid for exclusives and pray they continue because there is little reason other than being a complete fanboy to buy an inferior system from a company that spit in your face. And judging by sales figures... they will be paying up the arse for any future exclusives...

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 2:49 PM, kcshawman wrote:

    I just found out that the PS4 lacks multiplayer games. Well that's good. I was not interested in the the PS4 and thinking Xbox 1 was a very expensive. I may have to take a closer look at the PS 4. I hate the trend towards multiplayer games and the trend to always be on the internet.

    I want to play the game with my console while totally unplugged. Ok downloading patches is a lot nicer while online but that is the all I want.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 2:53 PM, TheC777 wrote:

    I am so sick of morons claiming that Shadowfall is lacking.

    It launched with 24 player matches, 12 maps, 10 or so game modes, tons of guns, techs and upgrades and the ability to set up any kind of match you want.

    Understandably in beta, but I see none of that in the PC or 360 versions of Titanfall. I GUARANTEE it will ship with less than HALF those options.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 2:53 PM, midgardsormr wrote:

    Your forgetting MMOs that PS4 will have that the Xbone won't such as Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn and Planetside 2!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 3:50 PM, jross wrote:

    Cant stand Multiplayer, some of the best games don't need a 14yr old boy yelling and calling people names. Look at KOTR if you want proof, the first two you could sit in peace and quiet and enjoy the game then they decided to make an online version, its lasted about two years is now free to play and absolute crap. All online games are fun for about a week and then your looking for a game with substance.

    "Date the stripper, never Marry her"

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 4:26 PM, DorianOmega wrote:

    LOL This story is a crock of bull, Sony is already starting to dominate the MMORPG market with its multitude of games in the genre available, as these games arent on the PS4 many of these are coming to the PS4 like PlanetSide 2.

    Trying to make Sony only relevant to gaming with its PS4 is irresponsible to report on your parts Keith Noonan and Motley Fool.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 5:39 PM, funyahns wrote:

    Its not really a big deal. Single player games are still the best thing about gaming. I bet if you did a poll you would find most people want single player games over multiplayer. My favorite multiplayer games were always on split screen with friends. Groups hanging together gaming, not gaming alone together.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 5:57 PM, midgarpunk99 wrote:

    Not every game needs a multiplayer. There are games out there that have both single player and multiplayer, where the single player is way better than multiplayer.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 5:59 PM, paxderomano wrote:

    Personally I have ZERO interest in a multi player experience. I'm tired of games shoving it down our throats and I feel it takes away often from the richness of the actual story and campaign. If you want people to play games together try making a few that have the options of being two player. If I'm going to play games with someone else I want it to be at my house, not over the internet.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:13 PM, ClownOnCrack wrote:

    I always was the feeling that the Playstation was for great single player games and and the XBOX was got fun multiplayer games. I still am, having gotten both new generation consoles for that same exact reason. Until Sony gets it's multiplayer act together, I think it will always be that way. Microsoft should thank it's lucky stars for this, otherwise Sony would have just crushed Microsoft.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:23 PM, Starmoonsky wrote:

    Thank god for Sony. Why does every game have to be multiplayer. I for one prefer single player. I own both Xbox1 and PS4 and I'm more excited for Sony's single player lineup than anything on the Xbox. I just finished playing the Titanfall Beta and to be honest it loses a lot of fun BECAUSE of the multiplayer. Sony know gamers. They know better than any of us what's going to work

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 7:01 PM, JundtDH wrote:

    I do understand why multiplayer is a valuable addition to many games. But there is also the issue that several of the games they used as examples in the article had crappy multiplayer that couldn't survive on it's own.

    Multiplayer should be the experience when it is meant to be. It shouldn't just be there because some person said "Multiplayer or no buy".

    Besides the choice they have for Microsoft to supposedly take an advantage is sounding like it's going to provide a 60 dollar multiplayer only game. Far too expensive a price to pay for such a limited multiplayer experience.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 7:02 PM, solofatty09 wrote:

    its funny to me how these articles applaud ps4 for appealing to "core gamers" and attribute that to its success... then in the same breath say it is doomed for not having more multiplayer. core gamers will always play way more single player than multiplayer games. plain and simple. someone referred to titanfall as a fragfest... they are likely right. it will be a re-skinned COD title. Bring on the well rendered single player games. enough COD already.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 7:40 PM, josephE wrote:

    When Titanfall was first announced, I was really interested in it - until they said it was multiplayer only. I would preorder it in a heartbeat for Xbox 360 if it had a good single player campaign. I'm much more hyped about the upcoming Destiny game from Bungie, because I know it is going to have a stellar single player campaign as well as multiplayer. I love the fact that Sony's biggest AAA titles such as Uncharted, Infamous, and God of War have great stories with well developed characters, and if it has multiplayer, then it's just another way to enjoy the game.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 8:16 PM, WizardsFirstRule wrote:

    Need something to write about? Make something up just like this author above!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 8:59 PM, SHlTTINGBULL wrote:

    I love getting killed over and over by 8 year old kids while their moms are screaming at them in the background.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 1:38 AM, IIxCORRUPTEDxII wrote:

    There is a market for single player and multiplayer.. So why argue about it... I personally would never buy a game just for single player.. I like the competitiveness of the multiplayer, to me single player gets easy and predictable plus once I beat the game on the hardest level I never replay it..( except the Halos I have always liked the extra stuff in those champagne's, plus those are the only story lines I have liked) some games I never even touched the single player just went straight on to the multi-player.. I can see if you don't have friend multiplayer would suck.. But if you have online friends its a blast.. Love the team work and ## talking to each other.. Guess Im just social..

    And the question about which system is better..

    I believe that comes down to what each of us want.. Some people just want games and nothing else so the PS4 is perfect for them.. I myself love that I can tell the xbox to turn on and what channel to go to without moving out of bed or reaching for anything.. I like that if I want to watch a game but still play.. I can on the same TV.. I really enjoy my X1.. Love the skype to.. But what I like and what you look are different.. So to you I made a bad choice in picking the X1, but to me you did by getting the PS4 which to me is just a improved PS3.. We are Americans :) we want what we want and that's that.. Enjoy your PS4, hope you love it... I will enjoy my X1, and when you decided to like multiplayer.. I'll kill you so fast you'll dashboard..hahah

    oh and when the phone ring.. I can say xbox mute..freakn love that one.. no more scrambling for the remote!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 3:28 AM, JoeLemon wrote:

    Does anyone over 14 actually voice chat? I just mute it.

    Infamous is actually a fairly long game with 2 ways to play it. I'm glad they didn't make a MP game.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 12:23 PM, zhukov1943 wrote:

    LOL - the emphasis on "multiplayer" has been pushed by the manufacturers and developers, not the gamers. They want to force you into a subscription-pay experience where they can stick unwanted "content" under your nose whether the gamers want it or not.

    There are still plenty of gamers who don't like to play online with strangers - because the sad truth is that people act like jerks when they have online anonymity. If you've never been called a "gay n00b" by a 12-year old, then you've never TRULY had the "online multiplayer experience."

    I'm skipping Titanfall - even though it looks like a fantastic game - because it's ONLY online multiplayer. No single-player with 'bots, no single player campaign, no single-player offline.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 12:30 PM, scruffymatt wrote:

    Sorry but I completely disagree with the NEED for multi-player. Granted, some have turned out to be more fun then expected like Mass Effect 3. I would not have guessed from Mass Effect 1 or 2 that multi-player would work so well for that game.

    But not every game needs a multi-player mode. Instead of putting resources into a mode I might never play or only play once, how about giving me another level or more characters? Multi-player also tacks on a huge amount of additional play-testing, which some companies (Bioware I'm looking at you) cannot afford to forgo.

    Some games are meant to be online multi-player, but certainly not EVERY game.

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