A Simple Question: Multiplayer Invades Single Player

Picture this scenario: You’re playing a new game.  You want to play single player first, because you know that once you start playing multiplayer, you’ll probably keep playing multiplayer, so you want to get that pesky story out of the way.  You tackle each mission, play the game through, beat the last bad guy and get an ending that doesn’t seem to be the best possible one.  You scratch your head while you look back through the stats, and decide to hop on the internet to voice your anger.

“OMG.. just finised XYZ game – wtf is up w/ that nding? w/e, ill start on mp now”

And then someone replies,

“Wait, you didn’t play multiplayer yet?  Well that’s why; you need to play through multiplayer to help unlock the best ending in singleplayer.”

Sound ridiculous? Well if you’re playing Mass Effect 3, you’re in this boat.  It seems that in order to easily unlock the best ending, you need to play through the co-op multiplayer a bit.  Note that I said “easily,” it is still possible to do it only via single player, but it has been made much more difficult to do so.

I’ve seen the reverse happen in games so far: playing through the single player campaign would often unlock various things in your multiplayer experience (badges, titles, items, levels, etc), but it is far less common for multiplayer to affect the single player experience. It brought me to this week’s question:

Should games use multiplayer progress to influence the single player experience?

(You may need to refresh the page to see the poll)

I don’t know if I’m entirely opposed to the idea of having some blending of the two experiences.  I think it’s a neat idea in how it was implemented in Mass Effect 3, personally.  But I can see why people would be upset.  I am actually in the camp of “play single player before multiplayer,” so had I picked this game up at launch, I would have probably been pissed seeing a sub-standard ending because I didn’t play multiplayer.  At least the best ending is still possible without playing multiplayer, but like everything else in the gaming industry lately, I see this as a trend that will continue, and will become more pervasive.  Mass Effect 3 isn’t some indie game playing with this idea; this is potentially one of the biggest games of the year that is telling its users to go play online. Right now, I’ve been happy with the single player experience unlocking bonuses in multiplayer.  I don’t know if I’m quite ready to be forced to find friends in order to unlock single player content.  What about people who don’t want to be connected? Or don’t want to play multiplayer? Or buy the game years later, when the masses have moved on and no one is playing multiplayer in that game anymore?

So in answering my own question, I think right now, it’s best if we keep the two experiences segregated.  This isn’t a game on a cellphone, where you can guarantee that every player is connected to the internet.  Again, the particular example of Mass Effect 3 isn’t as bad, since you technically can get by without playing multiplayer, but I don’t see it stopping there.  Not when there’s more money to be made by getting people to play online.

What do you think? Vote above, and let us know below!

View previous ASQ: Review Scores – View next ASQ (with Recap): Psychonauts 2

A Simple Question (ASQ) is a weekly segment for Platform Nation.  Give a response and let the world know what you think; there is no right or wrong answer here. If you have a suggestion for a question, hit me up on twitter @vttym.

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