The lights are on
When Just Cause 3 releases next year for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, it won’t come bundled with a multiplayer mode, but that doesn’t have to stop Avalanche Studios – or anyone else – from adding multiplayer to the game after the fact. What are the chances that Just Cause 3 will eventually receive a multiplayer mode similar to Just Cause 2? We spoke with the developers about the possibility of adding multiplayer in the future and representatives from two of the most likely channels to deliver this mode.
Just Cause 2 was a sprawling open-world experience filled with zany, over-the-top action and a liberal use of explosions. It was one of 2010’s surprise hits, but a few enterprising gamers from Australia thought that one thing would have made Avalanche Studios' solo experience even better: more players.
Originally from New Zealand, Cameron “Trix” Foote was working in Queensland, Australia when Just Cause 2 released. “Troy “Jax” Myers – my fellow co-creator – and I were playing around in the Just Cause 2 demo, and thought ‘Hey, wouldn't this game be awesome if you could play with your friends?’ The full version of the game came out a few days later and we all dove into the single-player campaign. At least, they did. I couldn't stop thinking about multiplayer, and about an hour or two into the campaign, I had begun reverse-engineering the game and started mapping out key game structures.”
Cameron and Myers thought it would be cool if they could get five or maybe even ten players playing at the same time, but after a year and several thousand hours of reverse engineering, the modders were able to open Just Cause’s single-player world up for hundreds of players. The duo released a video showcasing the mod's potential in 2012, and the mod immediately captured the Internet attention.
Cameron and Myers also captured Avalanche’s attention, and the two were given approval to release their mod as an official Just Cause 2 DLC pack, and JC2-MP was officially released on Steam in late 2013.
“We have not been financially rewarded,” says Cameron. “Although Square-Enix did provide us with an agreement that essentially allows us to continue using the IP in the mod while allowing ad-revenue and donations to contribute to the various server costs we incur. Without their backing, we would not have been able to stay afloat without emptying our pockets. Their blessing gave us the legal foothold we needed to keep doing what we loved.”
Considering the success of JC2-MP, one might think that Avalanche would make a multiplayer mode a priority for the release of Just Cause 3. Unfortunately, Avalanche’s official stance is that they are focusing on the single-player campaign at this time.
“The mod is absolutely fantastic,” says Avalanche CCO and Co-Founder Christofer Sundberg. “We owe those guys a lot. They have actually supported the game and helped it stay alive so many years after it was released. We don’t expect the fans to make the multiplayer for Just Cause 3, but at some point you have to make a choice on where your focus is. Our strength is the sandbox experience, and we want to deliver a great Just Cause 3 experience.”
Thankfully, that doesn’t discount the idea of releasing a patch or an update that would allow players to enjoy a multiplayer experience somewhere down the line. Rockstar did something similar last year for the release of Grand Theft Auto V. Sundberg isn't ruling out the possibility of an official Just Cause multiplayer experience in the future, saying, “Maybe sometime down the line, we’ll take Rico into the modern world of multiplaying.”
Interestingly, Just Cause’s publisher, Square Enix, is putting technology into place that might allow Avalanche to roll out a Just Cause Multiplayer mode after the game’s launch. Earlier this year, Square Enix announced a cloud-gaming initiative called Shinra Technologies. This cloud gaming service doesn’t currently have office space of its own in the States, but a few of the company’s key members have set up shop in a corner of Avalanche Studios' office.
Neither company would comment on the project that the two companies “might be” working on together, but Shinra Technologies’ senior vice president of business Jacob Navok did briefly talk with us about his vision for the future of cloud gaming.
“What we see in the near future are cloud games that are developed from the ground up as well as games that are in an existing pipeline that we will enhance,” says Navok. “For example, taking a game that doesn’t have multiplayer right now and easily giving it multiplayer is what we imagine for enhancements.”
When we asked Navok point-blank if Shinra Technologies was helping Avalanche work on a multiplayer expansion to an existing property, he merely commented, “We’re working on a possible future collaboration with Avalanche Studios.” The strength of the technology that Square is developing with Shinra is the ability to render out complex physics on their servers and then send video signals back out to multiple players, bypassing the need for intricate synchronization on the players' individual hardware. This technology is a perfect marriage for the systemic destruction found in the world of Just Cause 3, and when we asked Navok about this specific pairing for a potential multiplayer version of Just Cause 3 he responded with "I think it does make a lot of sense."
Unfortunately, the modding community is similarly elusive. When we asked Cameron Foote, the co-creator of JC2-MP multiplayer mod if he would be interested in adding a multiplayer mode to Just Cause 3 when it releases, he simply said, “We'll see what happens.”
So what does this mean for the future of Just Cause’s multiplayer? Should fans eagerly look forward to epic hundred-man shootouts on the island of Medici? We’ll have to wait a bit longer for an official announcement, but if we were going to bet on the existence of a Just Cause 3 multiplayer mode, it wouldn’t be a small amount.
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