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On The Failure Of Online Console Gaming 89

Posted by simoniker
from the just-not-good-enough dept.
Thanks to GamesAreFun for their editorial discussing why online console gaming isn't ready for the masses. The author pinpoints his set of reasons for this alleged "niche" appeal, including not enough broadband penetration ("the fact remains that gaming on dial-up is excruciatingly slow"), lack of online titles with mass-market appeal (citing "a pattern that precludes the more casual gamer from caring about online console gaming"), and limited modding abilities for console titles ("players will become bored... playing the same maps over and over and over again.")
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On The Failure Of Online Console Gaming

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  • simple.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Monday October 20, 2003 @08:11AM (#7259390) Homepage Journal
    console online games generally need you to own a pc(who buys a broadband connection just for the console?) and when you have a pc you're more probable to play the online games on the pc. not to mention that you have to be a bit geeky to arrange to get the console to hooked up(which goes against the basic premise of that you just "hook up the console and play"). not to mention pay extra for the (unnamed) console maker just to play online.

    • I have a PC (have had since the old XT days), and quite frankly I'd much rather play online games through my Xbox than my PC. Why? Universal voice communication is a big one. But the major one is that there is just far less cheating on XBL than any game on the PC. There still is some, in terms of team killing and the like, but they frequency and mere annoyance level is much lower than anything on the PC.

      I used to work at an EB (I've been saying that a lot here) and I think you'd be surprised at how man
  • Now I'm not the most familiar with online console gaming but I know with online computer games many of these need to be patched. And it's possible to do this with a computer. But with a console game it's not possible to patch it. I suppose the gaming companies could fix the problems and release an updated game but it'd just piss off those who already have the game.

    I'll use Civ3 Play the World for example. It was terrible out of the box. Multiplayer didn't even really work. But several patches later and wh

    • Re:Patches? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Aliencow (653119)
      Xbox live games are patched...it has a hard drive.
    • Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast, GameCube, and Xbox all download code updates from the server when you connect.

      Of course, each version has gotten hacked rather easily, and that's how people run arbitrary code on the GameCube.
  • by neglige (641101) on Monday October 20, 2003 @08:16AM (#7259416)
    Since I don't have a console, I'll throw in an assumption - feel free to prove me wrong.

    As I see it, consoles are already multiplayer-enabled. Plug in a second controller (or more), and you're ready to go. Any time I see a console, I see two or three kids sitting in front of it. Local multiplay. Why do you need to go online? Just so your friends don't have to come over to your house, exchanging a 5 minute walk for a couple of bucks on the phone bill (and removing the social factor)?

    The way I see it, there is no real need to go online for a multiplayer experience. Yes, it's a nice thing to have, granted, but it's not really required. Try to plug in a second controller into a PC. Completely different story (yes, it's possible...).
    • As I see it, consoles are already multiplayer-enabled. Plug in a second controller (or more), and you're ready to go. Any time I see a console, I see two or three kids sitting in front of it. Local multiplay. Why do you need to go online? Just so your friends don't have to come over to your house, exchanging a 5 minute walk for a couple of bucks on the phone bill (and removing the social factor)?

      Some of us have friends and family outside of a 5 minute walk (try a 3-days drive for most of my friends and f
    • When you're older than 20 and working 40 hours a week, you sometimes don't have the time to drive over to a friend's house and back. Meeting up on Xbox Live! via one of the games is a lot better, especially since you don't have to share screen real estate.
      • screen real estate is big for me. I play a lot of FPS games on xbox. Split screen FPS gaming sucks compared to LAN / internet. As a matter of fact, before live came out, I networked my xbox with 2 of my nephews xboxes at the house next door to play Halo.

        Lately I have been playing ESPN football and ESPN hockey with my nephew (both are excellent games IMHO). Football is better over live because I can push a button and see the play before the snap (something I don't do when he is sitting next to me). Pla

    • For some games having your friends playing multiplayer at the house is great. Sports games fit this the best.. but lets same you want to play a FPS with your friends.. and you have the 4 person split screen.... hmmmmm or an RTS with a split screen(well here comes the zerg rush!)

      alot of the allure of online gaming is lost.. You don't know what the other person is doing.

    • Why do you need to go online? Just so your friends don't have to come over to your house, exchanging a 5 minute walk for a couple of bucks on the phone bill

      This, as I see it, is a major problem with online console gaming, but not the biggest -- This is how I see it.. With Madden 2004 for PS2 (I love the game, but didn't buy this one this year, but I did read this on the box) it touts as a major feature the fact that you can use the online connection to download updated stats and stuff from the internet..

  • by Viqsi (534904) <jrhunter@menagerie . t f> on Monday October 20, 2003 @08:29AM (#7259459)
    The way I see it, computer gaming isn't ready for the masses either. Since aftermarket patches are possible, intial releases are frequently of just-barely-playable quality. Drivers for your computer have to be carefully controlled and balanced, or everything will explode. And the system upgrade cycle is much more frequent, and vastly more expensive.

    I'll stick to consoles, thank you.
    • The way I see it, computer gaming isn't ready for the masses either.

      True. It tends to be palatable more to the smarter, geekier types.

      Since aftermarket patches are possible, intial releases are frequently of just-barely-playable quality. Drivers for your computer have to be carefully controlled and balanced, or everything will explode. And the system upgrade cycle is much more frequent, and vastly more expensive.

      Both of the last two complaints are only present if you buy the bleeding edge. You're un
  • "players will become bored... playing the same maps over and over and over again."

    This is where the Xbox has the advantage over the PS2. Games like Mechassault and Return to Castle Wolfenstein have DLC, and it's helped extend the longevity of the games tremendously. (Mechassault's multiplayer game has almost more than doubled in size just because of DLC) Perhaps the PS2 Hard Drive will change this. Perhaps...

    But really, how is this any different than gaming online on the PC? Example: Counter-Strik

    • The difference between XBox Live and Counterstrike is that Counterstrike was a player-made mod, and didn't "go pro" until it was already a smashing success. People may play mostly stock Counter-Strike maps, but those maps are the cream of the crop of Counter Strike maps that were created over the years and added to the distribution. If the players themselves didn't have access to modifying the game, people would still be playing Half-Life.

      On the other hand, for Mechassault and Return to Castle Wolfenstein
      • I'm waiting for a game to allow players to make maps as a contest or something for Xblive. That would kick ass...Unfortunately, I don't see it happening soon. When a company actually does it, I think it will be HUGE.
  • I know that without content, sites and magazines don't get readers, to whom they can sell advertising. But, the point here is, do the masses really need game consoles? Is this such an important thing that we should subsidize consoles for those who can't afford them?

    Why do businesses think that they need to dominate the entire population with their product to be successful? What's wrong with being one of three or four players in a niche market, and having a strong share of revenue from that market? Isn't th

  • I can remember playing online games almost as early as the original Doom's first multiplayer patches. We're talking on my Tandy 1000

    I call BS. I had a Tandy 1000 back in the mid 80's. It was an 8088 4.77 Mhz processor and could be expanded to a max of 640k RAM (IIRC).

    Doom required at least a 386SX to run, in fact I think it was the first major game ever to require a 32-bit processor. There is no way you could even get Doom running on a Tandy 1000, even poorly!

    • Its total BS. They guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

      IIRC, DWANGO required at least a 14,400 modem to play online. (and no, there weren't any Tandys running Doom then)
    • He doesn't say it was Doom he was playing, he says "as early as". Almost everyone into gaming knows Doom and knows it's about 9 years old or so or at least has a general idea - so it's a good thing to use to indicate where gaming was back then.

      Personally I used to play muds using my 1200 baud modem (I had a 300 baud earlier, but I only ever used that for bbs stuff) which was way before Doom. The first graphical online games I played were around the age of Doom (actually a bit earlier IRC) and I was using
  • by 2Flower (216318) on Monday October 20, 2003 @09:34AM (#7259827) Homepage
    Biggest problem I have with online gaming? Other people. Everybody I bump into on X-Box Live tends to fall under two categories.

    One: People who really get off on acting like complete jerks, ruining your gameplay experience with abusive behavior and cheating. These are the punks who 'pull' on Capcom vs. SNK 2 (quitting the game at the last possible second, thus giving you BOTH a loss in the rankings) and trash-talk endlessly. I have a factor I call the 'Zero to Cocksucker' factor for an online game, which is exactly how long after connecting for the first time it takes for someone to call me a 'fag'. Record is currently 45 seconds for the bundled motorcycle racer on the XBL demo disk.

    Two: People who are absolute masters at the game you've selected to play. You die five seconds after respawning, you're beaten down with endless combos you have no hope of countering, you generally get utterly annihilated with no hope whatsoever of getting a single frag/hit/point in, much less winning. Yes, the answer to this is "Get skillz" but it's hard to get skills when you can't find anybody on your level to practice with beyond the useless computer AI.

    So in the end, I'm either so annoyed or so frustrated that I go play a single player game or I find something else to do with my time.

    Solution? Better matching services to ensure reasonable skill level mixes (and attracting a stream of newbies to keep the population as a whole from being too advanced), making the player feedback actually mean something so you can tell ahead of time if sixty thousand people have branded someone a jerk, etc. There are means to reducing these problems, even if they can't be eliminated. Most games just aren't designed with that in mind yet.
    • Thanks for making some good points that I was thinking about posting about.

      Unfortunately, I doubt MS will do much about that, due to the fact that everyone on XBL is a paying subscriber. I believe this was discussed previously, as Blizzard will ban battle.net jerks but that doesn't happen on EQ or other MMOs.

      There's not much you can do about it except to find people on web forums or IRC to play against. I wish Microsoft would release a keyboard for Xbox, I have no desire to voice chat with random gamers.
      • I wish Microsoft would release a keyboard for Xbox, I have no desire to voice chat with random gamers. I doubt I'll be renewing my subscription.

        http://www.xbox.com/en-us/pso2/keyboardadapter.h tm

        Use just about any keyboard you'd like. Much better, IMO, than something like the PS2 keyboard, which sticks you with something that may not be very comfortable to use (ie I can't use a standard keyboard for more than 20 minutes without having carpal tunnel problems).
    • When you get destroyed by a 'master', call him a fag and pull
    • One: People who really get off on acting like complete jerks, ruining your gameplay experience with abusive behavior and cheating. These are the punks who 'pull' on Capcom vs. SNK 2 (quitting the game at the last possible second, thus giving you BOTH a loss in the rankings) and trash-talk endlessly

      The 'pulling' problem was something microsoft should have taken care of. CvS2 on x-box was botched with the EO mode, and the way they handled pulls and rankings. I played with my mic on for the first day or
    • You play Wolfenstein on Xbl? Even not very decent players can get good scores(Me alot) by playing the different classes. Anyway if anyone cares my names Jalan and I'm usually playing Wolf at odd hours.;)
    • I had the problem on Mechassault, where the 'masters' were spanking my ass every game.

      Then I finally went through and played the entire single player campaign. That improved my playability to where I could actually compete. Also, there is the grinder, which will give you tons of practice on different mechs.
  • by Thedalek (473015) on Monday October 20, 2003 @09:39AM (#7259854)
    Consider that, without LANs and online gaming, computers are pretty much inherantly one-player animals, whereas consoles have almost universally had 2-4 player possibilities since the 1970s.

    Console gamers are used to being able to play multiplayer games without all that messy setting up a network or getting your console online. I'm not saying these things are complex, just that Joe Average is going to percieve them as being so.

    I personally hate online multiplayer gaming in just about every form, for pretty much the same reason I hated group assignments in school. That, and I object to the idea of continuing to pay for a game I've already bought.

    Yes, yes. I've heard the comparison of buying fuel for your car, or paying for electricity, but those don't hold up as comparisons: All cars require fuel, and all electronics require electricity, but not all video games require continuous subscriptions.
    • "I personally hate online multiplayer gaming in just about every form..."
      That's okay - you don't need to enjoy it. Just don't try to stop those of us who do.

      "...I object to the idea of continuing to pay for a game I've already bought."
      There are no games that require you to pay for them after you've purchased them - period. The only types of games that have a service charge are MMOGs, and that service charge is the cost of server upkeep, bandwidth, and all the other services that you're taking a part of b
    • All cars require fuel, and all electronics require electricity, but not all video games require continuous subscriptions.

      Be quiet, you don't want to give the video game publishers ideas do you?
    • Your basic point, that the culture of playing PC games vs. console games is different, is the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this.

      I have a PC, two consoles, and a GameBoy Advance. I play games on all of them, but I play different games at different times for different reasons.

      A PC is generally relegated to a spare bedroom, a closet, or a corner where work is done. An internet connection is a necessity. When you use it, you face away from the rest of the room, towards the monitor. It is ge
      • From the different styles, you can see what sort of games people are going to play. For example, Doom II is a great game, but on the GBA you have to complete an entire level to save your place, which can take 20-30 minutes. People don't necessarily have 20-30 minutes to play on their GBA, so Doom II doesn't work very well.

        The sad fact is that this is a limitation of the GBA version of the game, and is not inherent in the game itself (Doom 2 has fully-functional save-anywhere/-anytime gameplay on the PC),
        • You've got some great points. I'd played DOOM on the PC originally so I knew about the savegames; DOOM/DOOM II save the entire state of a level, every monster and treasure item, so it's understandable that they had a limitation to deal with. They would have had to redesign the levels to make a port you could play in short hiccups.

          Your history lesson is the best point I've seen on this topic. I remember how difficult it was to get an online Duke Nukem 3D game going, along with most of the games of its ge
  • Oh boy (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Kethinov (636034)
    This article reads oh so similar to my rant [halo43.com] on the same topic. But the last time I quoted my main points from my rant (which are nearly identical to this article) I got modded as flamebait! So my belief that console gaming is inferior to PC gaming goes from Slashdot flamebait to Slashdot article? How ironic. [/end_irony]
  • There aren't any killer broadband titles for the consoles which appeal to console gamers, which is why online gaming hasn't taken off yet on the consoles.

    Traditionally, the PC has been good in certain genres of games that translate well to multiplayer action. RPG's, FPS, RTS, and Simulation games are usually better on the PC than on the console.

    Consoles are usually have better sports games, adventure/platform games, and fighting games.

    So you would think that the consoles would take the games
    • http://www.easportsonline.com [easportsonline.com]

      The author of the article and you appear to both be ignorant of the widespread appeal of EA's Madden 2004, NCAA Football 2004, and the expected appeal of the rest of their sports line - exclusively playable online using a PS2.

      • The author of the article and you appear to both be ignorant of the widespread appeal of EA's Madden 2004, NCAA Football 2004, and the expected appeal of the rest of their sports line - exclusively playable online using a PS2.

        Try re-reading my post, I said OTHER than sports games the consoles haven't released anything that is exclusive to the genres the consoles traditionally do well with. Also, Madden 2004 isn't "exclusively playable online with PS2" you can go online and play with the PC version as w
        • What name did I call you?
    • I have to disagree with part of this. FPS, RTS and Simulation games are better on the PC, but RPGs must be divided into two categories before your statement rings true. Open-ended freeform RPGs are better on a PC. Daggerfall, and Morrowind are two good examples of this. Plot-driven RPGs are better on the console, or at least more popular. The Final Fantasy series, and a variety of others, who lead you along the plot, are more popular on the console.
      • RPGs must be divided into two categories before your statement rings true. Open-ended freeform RPGs are better on a PC. Daggerfall, and Morrowind are two good examples of this. Plot-driven RPGs are better on the console, or at least more popular. The Final Fantasy series, and a variety of others, who lead you along the plot, are more popular on the console.

        I would say that the Final Fantasy series is an exception to the rule in recent years (ie FF7 and on). PC RPG's have evolved to the point where they

  • Final Fantasy Online

    Then we'll talk.
    • Monthly Service Fee

      Sorry, I love my Xbox Live. But aside from my regular annual fee, I don't feel the need to shell out $10+ bucks per game to occasionally play them online.

      With all the games I have, I can't devote multiple-hours to a fee-based RPG. I like the current setup, where I can just login, play a game or two, and then move onto something else.

      But that's why I don't play computer MMORPG's either.

      But in all honesty, the main reason I don't do Xbox Live as much as I would play PC Online games, is
      • Sorry, I love my Xbox Live. But aside from my regular annual fee, I don't feel the need to shell out $10+ bucks per game to occasionally play them online.


        I have a PS2, there's no PS2 fee, just the game fee. Oh, and FFonline will come preinstalled on the HD of the adaptor combo...

        But I know what you mean, the whole "pay pay and pay" thing IS a problem.
        • But I know what you mean, the whole "pay pay and pay" thing IS a problem.

          I think that's my major problem with the entire model. I like the fact with the Xbox, I can just grab standard games and play them out of the box with my current subscription. Which is nice with rentals.

          But maybe things have changed, I haven't looked at the specs for PS2 Online lately.

          I do admit that the Sony package deal also had me intrigued, but I would need Planetside also brought over to the PS2, rather than just Everquest.

          An
      • Yes, FFXI is coming with the often ridiculed "monthly service fee". But it also comes with continually updated content, constant customer support, and a persistant world hosted on a central server, such as all games who call themselves "MMORPG" do.

        I understand that a lot of people will find this to be rediculous. However, in FFXI's case, you have a huge fan base (Fan being in the fanatical sense) that has matured over many many years (FF1 came out in the US I believe in 1989?) many of whom have fawned over
    • Why won't people just play it on their PCs? I'd much prefer a higher resolution and, since it isn't a social event, why bother dragging an Ethernet cable into the living room?
      • Why won't people just play it on their PCs?

        The constant nedd to buy bigger and better graphic cards/ram/etc...
        Some people just buy a console every 5 years instead.
  • players will become bored... playing the same maps over and over and over again

    This is bullshit. Some poeple have been playing Starcraft, Quake3, Half-Life in SINGLE PLAYER for years, on the SAME MAPS! Why should multiplayer be any different?
    • agreed, when my friends and I do a LAN we ALWAYS end up doing at least a few games of UT on Face and Hall of Giants (or whatever), and hell yes we enjoy it, variety is certainly nice, but if you could play a game to death by simply repeating maps and skins, then nobody'd be playing, console or otherwise...mods are fun, not required...
    • The same maps for single player for years? Just look at Doom 1! People have been playing the same single player maps for multiplayer! No one cares about the 92084231 different "box" arenas Jackass Jimmy floods the net with! They want kick ass maps and they'll play it for 99% of the time if its good enough.

      Counter-Strike has de_dust and de_dust2, Starcraft Big Game Hunters (which has spawned hundreds of clones), and even both versions of Halo (PC and Xbox) continue to champion Blood Gulch as the most popular

  • It's mostly uneducated opinion based on anecdotal evidence. Hell, if we are going that route I will toss in my $0.02 and add that all the people that I know on Live use it fairly often and love it. It was easy to set up and easy to use. The latest features make it even more appealing. I will be renewing my Live in November for sure.
  • This person has obviously not had his article peer reviewed by someone familiar with Microsoft's online offerings. If he'd bothered to go te the Xbox Live! calendar [xbox.com] he'd see that there's more Mech Assalt content listed as coming, contrary to the claim: "In fact, just about all the games with downloadable content on Xbox Live released to date, have released their last known downloads, with no known plans to release any more. This includes Microsoft with MechAssault."

    I find it odd that this person mentions
    • The entire piece comes off as more on a reason why the author things PC online gaming...

      You should resist the urge to post before the content is actually spell checked.

      I'm just kidding. Couldn't resist. I'm an ass.

    • While paying for online services was a no no in my book, I do pay for live. Voice chat is cool most of the time. The rankings are really good if you have friends, lots of competition. Anyway, it's not alot of money, cheaper then everquest. Not cheating is the big thing I play Unreal and Wolf on Xbox instead of PC. Although Wolf has some cheaters with action replay, while annoying, it's very few and far between. I only tend to see about one a week and they are gone quick. Cheating on FPS online ruins a gam
  • by Kelz (611260)
    Also it is very hard to mod any console game. Why? You need either the source code, a thing that you will get from devs when you pry it from their cold, dead fingers, or a level editor, which most devs don't release. Also, to make a kick-ass mod like counterstrike, you need to use a code editor, and they are only on PCs. Why would anyone want to mod a console game? Its like wanting to run Linux on an X-box.
  • I have Xbox (and Xbox Live). Sorry if this sounds like a commercial, but there is a point at the end.

    One of the upcoming games I am most excited about is Project Gotham Racing 2 [xbox.com]. This is a street racing game that is going to make full use of xbox live.

    PGR2 is going to be always on the internet. While you are playing in offline singleplayer mode, your lap times/scores will be uploaded to a server. When you play a track you can see the worldwide best times. You can also race against other users.

    The co

  • Counterstrike is a great example of that not being the case.. There's a handful of frequently played maps that have stook the test of time. (5 years?) -n
  • I have had a lots of consoles through the years, and also a bunch of PCs - so here goes my take of the problem. I don't play games that are fun to watch on the PC, I don't play quick fun games on the PC - I simply play games I enjoy playing alone (that is in my room alone) on the PC. Big games, 50+ hours games, you know the deal, and I never play PC games when friends are over, ever.

    Console game on the otherhand are for me aimed at the opposite, even the SP games are games I can play with friends around

  • "the fact remains that gaming on dial-up is excruciatingly slow"

    This is a software problem, not a hardware one. I'm sure many of us can remember a time when 14.4 kbps was more than fast enough to play games on to your heart's content. So long as game writers are letting their code bloat to the point of requiring broadband, they'll still be screwing themselves out of the vast majority of the people on-line.
    • I think you make a great point. Many gamesz, even designed for broadband play, are still choppy and slow. I think many developers have gotten sloppy. Just like it takes time to polish the mechanics and graphics of a great game, it takes time to write tight net code.

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