The Death of Couch Co-op Killed The Fun in Multiplayer Games

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Revive the Rivalries! Couch Co-op Needs To Return.

Story Highlights
  • Couch co-op has been an integral part of gaming history and has contributed to its success.
  • Unfortunately, the industry has silently killed off couch co-op in video games for certain reasons.
  • While limited, a few modern games channel the same fun that made older classics so memorable.

Multiplayer has been an integral feature of gaming and one of the biggest reasons why the industry is worth billions of dollars today. Multiplayer adds a competitive aspect to video games and adds to their longevity, so they can be played for hundreds of hours with new experiences.

However, multiplayer gaming matured from LAN and couch co-op, both of which are practically dead today. For those not familiar, couch co-op is a form of multiplayer on the same system played between two or more people.

Couch co-op was responsible for some of my own gaming memories. Playing Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3, Baldur’s Gate: The Dark Alliance, and many more games like these made some unforgettable memories for me.

Unfortunately, I won’t ever be able to experience such moments too often, considering the industry has left the feature way behind us. I, for one, think that the death of local multiplayer gaming has killed off the fun in multiplayer games.

Why it matters: The conversion of multiplayer mode in gaming has shown how far the industry has progressed and is leaning more towards the business aspect rather than entertainment.

Silent Death Of Couch Co-op

Halo Master Chief Helmet
Halo Was Highly Popular For Its Split Screen and Party Games

Nearly 20 years ago, not everyone had gaming consoles. As such, people would come together in one place to play video games on a single console, giving rise to this trend. However, the industry is exponentially more popular today.

This translates to more console and game sales for them, leading to more revenue. The popularity of online gaming also means that people lack the incentive to gather in one place and can play their games from across the globe.

However, these aren’t the only reasons behind the death of local multiplayer. Games are now more demanding than before, with recent titles like Dragon’s Dogma 2 struggling to maintain solid performance.

Baldur’s Gate 3 struggled to get its split-screen co-op working on the Xbox Series S, and word on the street is that the much anticipated Dragon Ball Sparking Zero is skipping split-screen gameplay due to similar limitations.

Reject Modernity, Embrace Tradition

Personally, I want nothing more than to see couch co-op returning.

Playing games like A Way Out reminded me how much fun local multiplayer can be. The experience of gathering in a single place with large groups of friends is something that simply can’t be replicated through online gameplay.

Ultimately, I like more choices. Online gaming, as great as it is, should not be the only means of multiplayer. To their credit, fighting games seem to be the only new releases consistently offering local split-screen multiplayer, yet the rumored lack of this feature in Dragon Ball Sparking Zero is a major buzzkill.

Perhaps the most disappointing example in this conversation is Halo. As a franchise that peaked through its couch co-op gameplay, recent titles launched without the feature, and 343 Industries eventually scrapped the promised update for Halo Infinite.

Still, a few games offer genuinely exciting local multiplayer in modern times, including the likes of Mario Kart 8, the highly successful Tekken 8, and more.

I hope to see more teams embracing this trend again, rekindling the joy of shared gaming experiences without the requirement of online gameplay. However, till then, it seems modern gaming has all but forgotten about local multiplayer.

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