Saturday, September 15, 2007

XBL: I'll stick with Silver

Since I bought my Xbox 360 back in March, I've had a Silver membership. I'm not going to pay money to play a demo a week or two early, so the only question in considering purchasing a Gold membership was whether or not the online mutiplayer accessibility is worth it.

Gaming with strangers
I've never found multiplayer to be appealing when it's just with strangers. The fun of synchronous multiplayer is sharing an experience with friends or family. Asynchronous multiplayer (like high score competition) is cool, but not worth paying for. And there a few other concerns I have with multiplayer, one of which is outlined in my response to York's latest blog.

But I'm willing to be proven wrong, so I purchased a month's Gold subscription and tried out multiplayer to three games: Medal of Honor: Airborne, Catan, and Carcassonne. I would have tried out more if I owned more, but I trade most games in (few are still fun after a couple months). The only other game discs I have for my 360 are Oblivion and Destroy All Humans (Xbox). I have other XBLA games, but their single-player only as well.

Anyway, I'm not going to renew my Gold membership.

My Airborne and Catan experiences were as I predicted: I would have enjoyed multiplayer with friends or family, but I didn't with strangers.

Surprisingly though, the lack of any relationship with my opponents in Carcassonne wasn't as bothersome. It's because I was dueling; the games were one-on-one. Somehow, knowing my opponent wasn't as important for that reason. Still, it would have been better competing against folks I know, and it's not worth keeping Gold for.

But you play MMOs...
Yes, and alwas with strangers. I've only played with someone I knew from real life once, and only for days.

I've said this before, but here it goes again. I don't play MMOs for the multiplayer component. Take out the other players, and a traditionally-modelled MMO is still very different than any single-player game. Most of the time, other players contribute to my own experience only by moving around like unpredictable NPCs, fleshing out the world a bit.

I love MMOs for their massive size, their wide variety of gear and character options, and other stuff that let's me explore the game for months. I love them because of the open-ended gameplay (though it's really more linear than most developers admit).

Anyway, I don't want to go on a rant about that. I'm just pointing out that, even with MMOs, the multiplayer component is attractive to me only when I can play with people I know in real life.

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