Online Console Games

Online gaming is slowly creeping it's way into the mainstream console gaming arena. Services such as Microsoft's X-Box Live service offers up a ton of nifty features to keep games occupied and connect with freinds. The question that immediately arises from the hardcore gamers is whether or not this is the future of video games. Simply put, this NOT the future, and it could very well destroy game design as we know it. Aimed squarely at the video games target audience, the 18-24 demographic, the online console game experience is certainly garnering a following. This is the group of people who grew up playing games on the NES, Genesis, SNES, and more. Games such as Bomberman with it's 4-player support were quite unique and encouraged socilization between gamers. Gathering 4 freinds over for a marathon session was undeniably a blast, but online gaming completely misses the point. Oh sure, your chatting along with other people looking to complete a common goal, but the interaction simply isn't the same. You'll most likely never see the person your playing with/against neither will even know their name (in most cases). Worse yet, what will happen to the captivating one-player experiences that this entire medium was practically founded upon? Final Fantasy will be going online soon (included with the PS2's hard drive when it finall arrives), but I simply can't understand the appeal here. The series is soon to be on it's 11th entry and it's been fine for the entire time, why take away the experience from those gamers who enjoy playing the game for it's captivating story? While I have no doubt that the storyline will be just as good, but you'll have thousands (millions?) of gamers out there and it only takes one to ruin the entire game. Want another reason? What happens in 10 years when I want to relive the experience of Final Fantasy 12? Oh wait, I won't be able to. By then, the servers will be offline and that game disc will be entirely worthless. This has already happened to those Dreamcast fans who enjoyed playing Phantasy Star Online, Speed Devils Online, Ooga Booga, and Sega's entire line of outstanding sports titles. Yes, these people could've upgraded to a newer console and enjoy the newest sports games, but this brings us to cost. Taking X-Box Live for the example, it costs $50+ a year to subscribe, $50 for a new game, $40 for a cable/DSL connection, and possibly more depending on your service (routers, cables, etc.). That's not even including the $179 for the console itself! The PS2 service requires the adapter ($40) and games such as Everquest charge per month. Costs like this alienate the younger set (the second largest group of gamers) and is even prohibitive to the 18-24 group. I have no problem adding in an extra online multi-player mode to some games , but games that are based entriely online and ignore the single player experience all together are seriously irratating. Growing up on games like Contra and blasting away alien beings with a freind next to me is an experience that simply can't be duplicated with an online game. Developers need to take a step back and realize what it was that brought us to this point. It sure as hell wasn't playing a game with someone I can't see 5,000 miles away.

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