I am a big videogamer, it’s one of my biggest passions and I take it very seriously as a hobby but also someone who is interested in the business side of the industry. Since I see it both ways, I have a lot of opinions that I like to think have the best interest of the gamer as well as the publisher in mind. With this preface, there is a major issue with videogames lately that I wish was addressed and that is the rising cost of videogames combined with the polarizing impact of the single/multi player market.
I grew up on videogames being offline, meaning if you wanted multiplayer in your games, the other person had to physically be in the same room as you. I still remember the amazing times I’ve had in college playing Goldeneye till all hours of the night and then doing the same when Perfect Dark came out. I even remember trying to play Unreal Tournament over a dial-up modem since online was free and I was really interested in moving onto online multiplayer. This last part was definitely not easy as you can imagine, poor 56k modems.
Multiplayer games are not a foreign idea to me, they can truly extend the life of a videogame well beyond what a single player experience ever possibly could. I love that videogames are connecting people from all walks of life all around the world. Unfortunately, in my mind, the single player narrative has suffered because of this. There are still single player videogames and I love how epic they have become (like Demon Soul, Fallout 3, and God of War 3) but I just feel like I shouldn’t be forced to pay for multiplayer if I have no intention of using it.
This is the crux of my argument, videogames need to have tiered pricing. Let’s take for example, Call of Duty 4. I played the single player, it was fantastic, but I had NO interest in the multiplayer (unlike millions of people who bought it for that reason). I didn’t buy this game, instead I borrowed it from a friend. I can tell you what would have gotten me to purchase this game, the price tag being $40. How could we make a brand new release like Call of Duty 4 be only $40? Simple. Release two versions, a single player only release and one that has both single and multiplayer on the disc.
Think about it this way, there is some psychological barrier for people like me (cheap people) who can’t see themselves spending $60 on a game when I only plan on enjoying 1/2 of it (if you consider single player 1/2 of a retail box that includes multiplayer as well). I am paying for a component that I have no interest in. It would be like buying a car with a 6 valve engine when I don’t plan on using more than the 4 valve would’ve offered me.
Instead of me buying the $60 package with multiplayer which I didn’t care for, they lost me completely and I ended up not buying the game. This has happened with several games, especially lately when developers feel the need to add multiplayer to previously single player only games (Bioshock 2 and Assassins Creed Brotherhood for example).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying get rid of multiplayer in videogames, just give us tiered pricing for those who want the single player and those who want multiplayer. You can even give an upsell option through a bonus disc or downloadable content. Sell me the single player for $40 and if later I want multiplayer, I can pay $30 for that option. Yes that is more than the combined cost of the full version (which would include single and multiplayer modes) but that’s the risk you take going with the lower priced version.
This is my idea, I think it’s a good one and would allow me to play all of the games that I want that have turned me off by the inclusion, or focus, on the multiplayer component. Tiered pricing needs to happen and in the age of downloadable content and micro-transactions, the users deserve options.