eSports and Streaming Culture Killed The Joy of Casual Multiplayer

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Casual Multiplayer Just Doesn't Exist Anymore!

Story Highlight
  • Intense competition is ruining the fun of casual multiplayer games.
  • Players often prioritize making flashy solo plays over working together with their team, all in hopes of emulating streamers and scoring viral clips.
  • Casual play is becoming harder to find amid the slew of gamers looking to go pro.

Back in the day, logging into your go-to multiplayer game meant having a blast with friends and maybe some strangers, too. The trash talk was good-natured, the victories were hard-earned but silly, and nobody stressed about being judged.

But now, it feels like those carefree days are long gone. In my opinion, the rise of eSports and hyper-competitive streaming culture has a lot to answer for. I’m not dissing the incredible skill of professional players or the dedicated streamers who master complex games.

The problem is the trickle-down effect this hyper-focus on top-tier play had on the average player’s experience.

Why it matters: I really miss the good old days of multiplayer gaming. Just hopping on without stressing about ranked points and just having some silly fun with friends.

eSports has killed casual multiplayer fun.
Gamers care too much about their rank in video games and often resort to “tryharding.”

Everyone is “Try-Harding” in Casual Multiplayer

Nowadays, playing online games feels more like a tryout for FaZe Clan than having fun. It’s all about chasing the meta, the best way to play, and using the most optimal strategies.

If you deviate, your teammates might give you a hard time for ‘throwing.’ Playing games online isn’t just about having fun anymore; it’s like auditioning for a top gaming organization.

Everyone’s obsessed with following the latest strategies and getting criticized if they don’t stick to the ‘right’ way to play. What about learning and experimentation? Forget it. There’s this expectation that everyone knows every map, every strategy, and every character’s statistical strengths and weaknesses.

I miss the days when a team of misfits could stumble upon a hilarious strategy and somehow miraculously pull off a win. Now, if you try something unusual, you’re just a noob.

Every time I play an Apex Legends casual unranked match, half of the lobby dies within 5 minutes of landing. I guess everybody wants to try hard, and nobody wants to have fun anymore.

Another annoying thing I’ve noticed is that most players I get in my teams have no personality – they’re always copying some popular streamer’s loadout, play style, or strategy.

For instance, the other day, while playing Valorant, one of my teammates was mimicking a streamer, copying their accent and personality down to the last word. It’s pretty uncommon for gamers in 2024 to use their mic to chat during online games, but at least this player was making an effort.

YouTube video

Everyone Wants to be a Streamer Nowadays

Streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube have changed how people approach gaming. Now, it feels like everyone’s trying to become the next big streamer, aiming for those flashy moments that make for viral clips.

This shift leads to a focus on solo plays rather than teamwork, with players attempting impractical moves they saw their favorite streamer do. Sure, I appreciate skilled players, but it gets tiring when everyone prioritizes making highlight reels over playing the game and having a fun match.

Then there’s toxicity. Trash talk used to be all in good fun, but now it’s gotten downright nasty. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, some folks feel empowered to hurl abusive insults.

When we call players out for not helping and playing solo for clips and reels, they start attacking your character choices in ways that feel deeply personal, often resorting to slurs or threats.

eSports and Streaming Culture
Everyone wants to make it big through streaming or professional gaming.

Where’s the Casual Multiplayer Space?

It begs the question, where did the spaces for purely fun multiplayer go? Ranked modes are great for those wanting to test their mettle, but sometimes, I just want to mess around without the pressure cooker of constant competition.

Game developers aren’t making things easier, either. Many games are now designed heavily around the competitive scene. Updates are all about keeping up with eSports, which leaves casual players struggling to keep up with the latest trends.

And don’t get me started on matchmaking—it’s like they’re obsessed with putting you in matches that are way too intense, where the pressure never eases up. Back in the heyday of online gaming, games like Team Fortress 2 provided a unique experience.

They focused on keeping players coming back for more and building a strong community.

There wasn’t all this pressure to perform or constant nagging about microtransactions. It was just about having a good time, working with your team, and enjoying the game.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still joy to be found. Smaller, tight-knit communities or games with less focus on competition still offer those classic experiences. But even there, the influence of eSports and streaming seeps in – that constant pressure to ‘git gud’ or be mocked.

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