Multiplayer: A Haven For Lazy Developers - o_JMan240_o Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Multiplayer: A Haven For Lazy Developers

Normally I'm not one to make such a generously negative statement, but my recent experiences have changed my outlook on multiplayer gaming. I was of the opinion that multiplayer games suffer because they aren't given enough attention or time during testing, because it's impossible for items in a competitive multiplayer environment to be balanced while remaining unique (which is indeed impossible), and since it's simply not possible for developers to account for the people that play - and often ruin - their games. That's changed now though.

I challenge anyone here to find an iteration based game, one with heavy and competition based online components, that isn't rife with problems. One that isn't filled with bugs, glitches, and missteps. I challenge you to find one that doesn't have serious issues. Find me one that is just as fun to play alone against completely random people in a competitive environment as it is to play with friends. Lots of mainstream multiplayer games gain very high review scores, however almost all of them leave you with a bad taste in your mouth due to one thing or other. Whether it's Modern Warfare 2's Javelin Glitch or Battlefield 3's scores of issues, like the absolutely atrocious spawns in TDM, and general abandoning of many of its own unique qualities in order to fit a mold contrary to what its incredibly devoted fan base was hoping to see. My suggestion, the inkling that came to mind as I thought back on all my multiplayer experiences, is that this aspect of gaming is structured in a way that allows developers to get away with murder... and that the structure isn't set to change any time soon.

Rarely is a problem in a multiplayer game mode addressed provided the game can be played with it there. Call of Duty's stacking killstreaks weren't addressed until the next game, weapons weren't balanced unless they were impossible to fight against like the Akimbo shotguns, and lazy errors such as holes in walls and rocks were never fixed and even apparent in DLC offerings for the game. Battlefield 3 is rife with issues, including many of the balancing and technical issues seen in the beta EA released last month, and almost half a month later the only issues DICE has acknowledged even exist were hastily and not entirely resolved by making changes that are implemented on their own servers. 

Stop to think for a second... how much time is put into the multiplayer aspects of these games for review by journalists? It can't be a truly significant amount compared to the time your average gamer will spend playing. During these periods they don't play against people looking to cheat, exploit, or break the game for their personal gain. They don't use all the weapons, items, or features. What does this mean? Well, it means that the developer can get away with only polishing the surface. As long as it's shiny enough to withstand the limited light of the journalistic community the rest doesn't matter. They could care less as long as the product looks good before getting into the consumer's hands. Developers don't have to make sure it all works great, they just have to make it looks like it does at first glance. They don't have to do much, and often they seem to do just as little as they possibly can.

I, in all honesty, don't know that I can justify the purchase of another game that focuses on multiplayer when I know there's no guarantee the developer will ever fix problems that arise and that they will in most cases receive no pressure outside of their consumers. In many ways the problems with multiplayer games are worse than the same phenomenon occurring in singleplayer because every issue and every exploitable bug will negatively effect someone playing the game in an exponentially greater fashion. Find a bug where you fall through a floor in a singleplayer game? You may never come across it again. Come across something that allows people to cheat in a competitive game mode and you're likely to find it almost every match. I already have very little confidence in develpers to release a singleplayer game that isn't flawed seriously in one way or another and I no longer have an interest in playing multiplayer games who's issues impact the players on a greater scale and that I know may never be addressed despite negatively effecting the consumers over and over.

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