Picking the Brain

This week in “Picking the Brain” we look at the culture of Online Gaming and what happened to the good ol’ couch co-op, VS play. With RETRO back on the rise, and many gamers taking notice of the “OLD”, some are starting to revisit the old popularity of LAN parties and couch co-op play.

I have worked in the retail space for over 10 years, and my experience has grown from being a hourly associate, to management, to upper management. Through the years I have also seen the internet become a rising, and easily accessible commonality to the public. Think of today’s generation. We are driven by technology. We are driven by always being connected, whether it is through our computers, tablets, and smartphones, to now our televisions, we are always connected to “OTHERS”. The video game industry is one of the industries that is leading that charge. With the birth of ONLINE Gaming, gamers have connected in ways they never have before.

Relationships and friendships are being born on a daily basis in the online space and, with that, we have seen a huge decline in couch co-op play, and games that support them. Halo 5: Guardians dealt a huge blow to this old, but always classic game mode by removing it from their upcoming game altogether.

“extremely difficult [decision]” to remove all split-screen modes was in order “to ensure that fans get the best Halo experience yet, and the team felt a split-screen experience would compromise the gameplay design and the visual bar they’ve set.”

I could spend a long time talking about why this is necessary for this game, but instead I look at the culture difference from when I was coming up in the industry. I used to enjoy going to a buddy’s house, with $80 worth of pizza, $20 worth of drinks and $20 worth of snacks and playing Halo across 4-5 different rooms, and screaming across the house at one another! It was all about face to face interactions and just hanging out with your friends for hours.

Some companies work to restore that old added feel of what it was like to play games together, in person. Take today’s GROWING Video Game Truck business’s. A mobile business that brings the entertainment to your door step in one convenient and comfortable location. Many of these owners are bringing that feeling of hosting a LAN party back. If you ask any of them today, they will say that they stay busy on a month to month basis, and many kids that rent them out have a BLAST with their parties. Playing games like “Minecraft”, and “Mario” with friends of theirs from school in one location is where they get a lot of their enjoyment. You can see it on their faces. This tells me that many gamers, of all ages, still want that option of playing split screen and not online. Will it continue to grow in popularity? I believe it will, and with LIVE streaming networks growing in popularity such as Twitch, and now YouTube, the analytics show that people enjoy watching others play, which means that they still have that open heart for local play.

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