The convergence of single player and multiplayer games

There’s a rumour going around that the next wave of Call of Duty games will include  options to buy into online subscription extras. So you’ll buy the game, and also be able to sub up for whatever services they decide to provide online. Maybe they’ll throw in some additional DLC on top.

Dragon Age is a single player game, with a 2 year DLC plan (38% through now, and how about them deep roads, by the way? Now that’s how to do horror.) They also have a social site where you can compare quests and achievements with friends, and a bulletin board too. Plus a tie in with their flash game to earn more loot for the standalone game.

And does anyone not think that Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 will also have subscription options?

Increasingly we’ve seen MMOs also poking around with models which involve box sales plus monthly subscriptions for extra content/patches/server maintenance, and options to buy extras via a cash shop as well.

There’s a convergence coming, and as MMO players, it’s all about how the gaming side took over the virtual world. And about whether we really want to be playing with massive amounts of people anyway. How much difference is there really between logging on for the weekly COD session with friends or the weekly fixed group in a MMO?

These days we understand a subscription as meaning a stream of ongoing content, and complain if the content doesn’t come fast enough. All those things that old MMO dinos lament about the good old days nowlook laughable because so many of the old MMOs were simply bad games. Poor gameplay, poor balance, timesinks, complexity … none of these things made for great gameplay. But the gameplay wasn’t the compelling factor that people miss. Those days of MMOs as virtual worlds are almost gone now, and I wonder if  that is the big reason that new MMOs struggle to get players to sub for more than a month or two.

It isn’t just their merits as games, it’s that perhaps the majority of gamers are looking for doses of solid gameplay, rather than a new virtual home.

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