So, about that busyness… I have a full-time job and I’m taking 4 classes this semester at CSU; you know, the normal full-fledged schedule. And those things take up a lot of my time. But what really hammers the nail in the coffin of the entity known as “free time”, is, I absolutely love my family. I have a 9.9 year old son who does not live with me all of the time, and a wife-to-be, who does. It’s funny how on any given day, combined, school and work take up at least eleven hours, but that’s not why I feel like there isn’t enough time to play games.
…Ironically enough, I also never feel like I have enough time with my family. Let me explain. See, the work that I do currently, I have no passion for. Therefore, it has a very exact amount of my time. At 2:55 PM and zero seconds, I am out of the door, headed to my car. School isn’t exactly the same, but close, because at 6-9 PM, I am tired. But my Rachel and Christian…I am never off. Those two are my world. There’s nothing I’m more passionate about. So when I am not at work or at school, I feel that I should be with them. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I don’t have to be with them every second—Rachel knows how much I love gaming, how busy and stressful life is for me right now, and gladly sacrifices not only her time with me, but the living room TV so that I can game, and Christian by default, isn’t always around me. But that doesn’t change how I feel. I’ve had conversations with Rachel about how guilty I feel whenever I’m playing a single-player game and she’s just sitting on the couch, being bored, browsing Facebook pictures. I both hate and love when she’s at work and I’m at home, because that is essentially the only time that I feel it’s okay for me to play something.
Now I know this intro is getting a little long (yes it is an intro), but I’m glad you stuck it out thus far because this piece isn’t about me whining because I want more time to dive into alternate realities where I look like a 6’o clock shadowed, dead shot, ripped, white male (we’ll talk more on this later), it’s about the solution to my problem. Or at least what could be. See I have the perfect woman. I’m not saying you don’t (or the perfect man, ladies I am not trying to exclude you), I hope you do, but man, mine is the ish. She’s not a gamer, per se, but when it comes to my gaming, she’ll do any of various activities ranging from watching me, to playing along, and Christian is the spitting image of his father and loves to game… Ah! There, the crux of this conversation reveals itself. And also there, is where the video game industry is currently failing me.
I figured out a long time ago that the best way to get my family onboard with me spending time doing my favorite hobby, was to get them onboard with doing my favorite hobby. I have a nice couch for us to sit on together, three controllers for all of us to play…I know you see where this is going. If you have a family, you have experienced it too. Where have all of the couch (local) co-op games gone?! Look, just last year, the three of us were sitting on the couch, having a blast playing Black-Ops 2 in split-screen. End of the year, Ghosts came out, and all of the things we loved about the game, had either been nerfed, or excluded altogether! The party mode, with all of the customizable levels, gone; but most importantly, what happened to my other square? Now, when it comes to a game like Battlefield 4, I hate it, but I get it. Last year, it felt like the PS3 was struggling to run BF3, and I can absolutely believe that with all of the explosions and weather effects that BF4 has going on, that it would be difficult to duplicate all of that four times, and even if they did, it’d probably hurt your eyes. But come on, have you guys seen COD: Ghosts on PS4? I have both the PS3 and PS4 versions, and I’m here to tell you, there is not so much going on, nor is it so pretty, that they couldn’t have made it 4-player local. We just bought Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and was all excited get the whole family playing…I was astounded that that game only has one, watered down, couch co-op mode, that only supports two players on the screen. You can’t even play 2-player split-screen in the (much more fun) multiplayer online deathmatch, rush, etc. modes. But hold on, last I checked, Plants Vs. Zombies was a family game. It wasn’t the college dudes, playing semi-professional COD and Battlefield that made PopCap it’s millions of dollars. It was all of the moms and 9 year olds, that demanded this game on every gaming device known to man, that made it successful (alongside their other IPs). I think delving into the shooter market was oddly enough, the perfect next step for this franchise, but why would PopCap bite the hand that fed them their fortunes? This game would have been phenomenal if instead of being a flat-out Battlefield clone, it had been a Battlefield clone that catered to its actual audience; parents and kids. Sure, the game will probably sell alright, because quite honestly, what else do early adopters of the Xbox One have to buy this month? But how long do you think the bros will stay away from their scorestreaks? How long will the servers stay populated? Hm…how long is it until March 11? 2 weeks, 4 days? Okay, I give it 2 weeks, 4 days, max. The sad thing is that the game is really fun; and could have been a solid hit with families across America, that would have kept the servers busy. This is a missed opportunity. But at least PopCap made an effort, there are essentially no next-gen games on PS4 that are local co-op. Resogun, I’m looking at you; are you seriously trying to tell me that you couldn’t fit another quarter-sized ship on the screen…or two, or three? The only platform that is still focused on families is Nintendo, and you see how often games are coming out for the WiiU…
So, the industry, that is ever increasingly trying to force me to play with others, is not allowing me to play with the people I want to play with, those that I love. And is therefore also the reason why I don’t have time to play games anymore. The alpha gamers, those who buy games and consoles, full-price, the day they get released, grew up playing games side by side with friends. That audience hasn’t gone away, as a matter of fact, it’s grown. They’ve gotten older, and have spouses and kids now, oftentimes who game as well. And I’m not saying that we’re going to all of the sudden stop buying games, because most of us collect video games at this point and will buy them whether or not we have the time to play them. What I am saying though, is that developers and publishers are doing us a great disservice, snuffing out local co-op games.
What are your thoughts?