Ramblings Zone

Online Gaming: The Good, The Mad & The Expensive

 

Things used to be so simple. We all had our consoles and knew exactly what to expect from them. There were no worries about it breaking if we breathed to hard near it, no update, update, update scenarios, no need for DLC as games were actually sold in there complete form and unless I’m looking through a rose tinted view I’m pretty sure the games of the time used to have a fair bit of longevity in comparison to their modern day counterparts. Oh, and no online play. And it’s these online capabilities that have put this gen way above anything that came before.

Forget about graphics, sound and depth because back in the day the graphics being spewed out by our Sega MegaDrives and Super Nintendos’ were the height of brilliance, there was nothing better. You never think at the time, one day we’ll look back and laugh at these graphics and this mediocre sound were currently embracing, but you do, in the same way we’ll one day look back at our current games and laugh. But forget about all that because as I said, we never knew what advances would be made over the coming years. It’s the online side of things that has made this generation such a wonderful place to play. Friendships are formed, it provides a great field to test your skills and it can add an unlimited lifespan to an otherwise short game. It was there before of course, the last generation was capable of online play but it wasn’t until this gen that the whole thing gathered unprecedented speed and numbers, and this new found love and desire for online play was never more apparent than during the recent PSN downtime.

Due to the hacking of the Playstation Network, the service was taken offline for a few weeks and caused much outrage among it’s users. To be honest in some cases you’d have been forgiven for thinking a Sony exec had just strolled into their living room and gone about their PS3 with a sledgehammer, they were that put out.

It wasn’t that Sony had removed the ability to play games, that was all still intact, it’s just that by removing the ability to play online it felt as though you were left with half a console. Such is the importance of online play these days that when it’s removed gaming can become a much greyer place to spend time. There are of course a wonderful array of single player experiences to be had, it’s just that in most cases, unless you’re heading into the world of Mass Effect, Oblivion or some other monster RPG you’ll probably have reached the end credits within a few measly hours.

Online gaming has quickly become the staple diet for the majority of console gamers. Within just a few brief years the online battlefields have seen something of a population explosion, gamers craving the challenge of facing a living, breathing human opponent gathered to wage war and fire insults at one another. The culmination of this new found injection of players and importance of online play meant that the PSN being offline recently due, let’s not forget, to a security breach meaning our personal details had been lost to hackers was met with an interesting reaction.

Sony: Well, the network has been hacked, the hackers’ aquired access to all your personal details and potentially your credit card details. So with that in mind we’re shutting the Playstation Network down for the foreseeable future while we rectify things.

Gamer: WHAT!!!!! NO BLACK OPS ONLINE!!!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sony: Don’t worry, you can still use the PS3 for games, it’s only the Network and online gaming that will be unavailable.

Gamer: Kill me now, take my PS3 and burn it, I’m getting a 360 they never have any trouble! (hmmm)

Weeks pass.

Sony: After a few weeks hard work we’re pleased to announce that the PSN is back up and running.

Gamer (now sporting a suntan and a new girlfriend) : Mwah Mwah, I LOVE YOU GUYS SOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!

In goes Black Ops, straight online and all is well with the world once again.

Gaming has gone through more of an evolution over the last five years than it ever has before, we’re now at a point were the online side of things has almost certainly surpassed the single player in an awful lot of gamers priorities when buying. We’ve seen online only games hit the shelves and recently online passes introduced. The companies know the value of online play to us gamers and have dollar signs in their eyes. Will we pay? Of course we will, and unfortunately they know we will.

Call of Duty Elite anyone?

But here’s an idea for the likes of Activision and co, before asking us to pay a little bit more on top of the £40 we’ve just paid for the game and the yearly subscription we already pay Microsoft (if you’re buying on Xbox) plus the map packs you’ll release at extortionate prices and the online access code we’ll need if we’ve bought pre-owned or want to use it on more than one console, before all that, why not try releasing a game that’s worth forty of our british pounds in the first place. Five hour campaigns and re-hashed multiplayer don’t quite cut it anymore.

So many of us love to play online, we used to be able to just buy the game and we were set, there was no extra outlay to impact the wallet. Those days seem sadly numbered. My only hope at the moment is that Activision have over-estimated the importance of the CoD franchise and this new venture will fail and prevent other companies from following suit, yeah fat chance. At the very least maybe they’ve just played into Battlefield 3s’ hands and that game can take it’s well deserved place upon the FPS throne. Now that might just happen.

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