Party Chat And The Death Of Multiplayer

For those of you that play on Xbox Live with a constant group of friends, the advent of party chat may have seemed like the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. No longer would you have to deal with the jerks on Xbox Live or listen to the squealing of a child who just wants his chocolate milk.

Many thanks to Penny Arcade for telling it like it is.

However, your friends will not always be online when you want to play a rousing round of Grifball or tear up an enemy’s helicopter in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. What gamers are left with are the dregs of Xbox Live, those who go without a headset and those who are already in a party with their friends. Recall for a moment, if you will, the glory days of Halo 2. Nearly every match you had multiple people speaking on both teams, and I think many people would be hard-pressed to say this was a terrible experience all the time for them. People would invite other people to their games after the match was over, friends would be made, and Xbox Live was fun. I sorely miss that sense of community and camaraderie these days, and I’d love to see it come back.

I’m not saying that party chat is the root of all evil on Xbox Live, but I’m getting sick of jumping on Halo 3 alone and not having a single person in the game speak. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 implemented a few great ideas, like having certain playlists that require players to exit out of party chat in order to play. Halo: Reach will put those who are in party chat and those with unplugged headsets into the “quiet” group (as opposed to “chatty”) so they will be matched with similar players.

What going online alone usually feels like.

I think it’s great that some developers are, well, developing ways around the issue. To me, the point of gaming online is to have fun and test the skills of myself and my team against others, and it’s a bit hard to do that when you’re the only one talking. If other companies don’t create workarounds too, then I fear for the future of Xbox Live. Sure, there will always be a strong sense of competition and the urge to destroy others, but that’s not what it’s all about, nor should it be. For me, it’s a way to connect with others over something I love…and to win, of course.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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  • Great article, Jake.

    I LOVE my 360 as much as I LOVE my PS3 and PC, so this isn’t a console vs console issue like many would believe- but I must agree that Party Chat has somewhat ruined the fun of Multiplayer gaming.

    Jumping on a 4 player split-screen game with your buddies at home was one step better than being in the arcade because you didn’t have to deal with gangbangers beating you up if you won (at least in Chicago that happened).

    Jumping online with your friends was one step better than split-screen because, well, you had your own screen and you could game sans-pants.

    For a moment there, Party Chat seemed like another step towards perfect gaming with buddies, but when you are a team of 6 and 5 dudes are in Party Chat, who’s that other cat going to talk to?

    Obviously your article goes more into detail, but yeah man, it’s changing the landscape of how MP games go on the XBOX LIVE side of things.

    Once again, great article, dude!

  • I can’t say I necessary agree; while it DOES happen that the majority of people in ONE game may all be in a party that doesn’t ALWAYS happen, I’d say there’s still a good mix either way. I’ve played plenty of MW2 and other games where the majority of my team was talking and not in a party and I’ve done my share of party gaming as well.

    I still make new friends playing these games but now I have a different option to play with as well. More options doesn’t always equate to bad things.

  • I totally agree and did my own blog about the very same issue not that long ago over at I am glad that some developers are realising it as an issue, although on MW2 I think it was done as a way to prevent cheating more than a way to encourage social gaming.

    Having a “chatty” option for players not in Party chat and with headsets plugged in, will help a lot!

    The ironic thing about this is, if I hadn’t spoken to random gamers I wouldn’t have my network of Party Chat friends!

    I miss social gaming with random players, I hope the developers response to this works.

  • Rut3g3r

    This is a really interesting piece. It’s weird to think that PS3 owners have battled to get party chat with every update – maybe Sony are on to something by not giving it to their audience?
    I’m playing Transformers: WFC multi on 360 just now, and I’ve barely heard anyone talk all week. It really kills the sense of teamwok that a class-based game needs.

  • Only Truth


  • 90% of my multiplayer experience is filled with racial stupidity and overall stupidity when not in party chat. Making random friends was cool in the past but more people are shifting to communities like PN to find quality gamers, it’s a better and safer route. I’m fine with never having to hear a random doosh nozzle if it means my gaming experience is better for it.

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