The ‘MAG vs ME2’ Effect

This last week has seen the head-to-head launches of two distinctly different AAA titles. If you’re a gamer you know all of this already, don’t you? But for those less involved these are the games:

MAG (PS3) – Does what it says on the box art: Massive Action Game – an online only Multi-Player (MP)with up to 256 players online in the same game with no Single Player (SP) campaign/story.

MASS EFFECT 2 (Xbox 360) – A Sci-Fi Role Playing Game adventure in Single Player only.

What these two huge releases demonstrate is how gaming has changed in recent years – the polarity of SP and MP. Before the popularity of the online MP experience games used to rely on the quality of the SP story. Then as Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network have matured, multi-player is threatening to exterminate the need/importance of playing solo.

Take Modern Warfare 2 – with an SP campaign of less than 6 hours, it’s success comes from the desire to spend hours, days and weeks of involving combat to unlock all of your perks and gain Prestige after Prestige. MAG (similarily to SOCOM) expects you to devote yourself to teamwork and gaining objectives with your fellow gamers to get the most out of it. Whereas Mass Effect 2 is hoping you’ll become so immersed in the vast universe of Sam Shepard that hours will disappear without a thought of a MP Deathmatch.

Let’s see who ‘wins’ – from the sales (and popularity) of these titles in the coming weeks.

So will gaming becoming a pure multi-player experience in the future as less and less developers and publishers see the merits of spending time (and money) on the single player story? Especially when they seem to think most of us just speed through them while waiting for our mates to come online for a Team Deathmatch or 20.

1 Comment »

  1. wes Said:

    Mass Effect 2 for me. I relish single player campaigns for the same reasons that I do reading a great book. I firmly believe that story and arc contribute deeply to video games as art. Removing that critical element and offering up only a multiplayer experience certainly has a place, but I can’t see it winning out in the end. We would all miss out on titles like BioShock, Halo, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed and many other story driven campaigns, and that would be tragic. I enjoy playing online, but that experience never has the same depth as a solid campaign (solo or co-op). The reward seeking and prestige leveling add something unique, but it’s an entirely different and to me a much more shallow pursuit. It extends the playable life of a title and allows publishers and hardware makers to milk more money out of a franchise and that’s probably not a bad thing.

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