If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of fond memories of playing split screen deathmatches in Goldeneye for the N64. You and three of your friends would huddle around one TV and frag each other for hours, not caring that you only had a fourth of the screen to yourself. This tradition continued in subsequent generations with games like Halo carrying the split screen torch. Unfortunately, with the advent of online networks like Xbox Live, this once integral feature has become increasingly scarce and possibly on the brink of dying.
A lot of games still offer 2 player split screen play, and that’s just fine. But what happens when you have a third person in the room? Your gaming options decrease significantly if you want this extra person to do anything more than wait for his/her turn. Even some games that seem tailor made for four people don’t offer the option for all four people to be in the same room. I’m looking at you, Left 4 Dead.
There are, of course, games that encourage four people to play together. Rock Band and Guitar Hero: World Tour are incredible experiences when you have four people playing together. Unfortunately, the barrier for entry on these franchises is much higher than your average game.
So are we witnessing the decline and possible slow death of four player split screen play? Will playing side by side on the couch become as outdated as wired controllers and the cartridge slot?