Whilst this is by no means a new change to the formula of gaming, it has been accelerated in recent years as an “always online” approach to gaming has continued to grow – it’s exactly what the title suggests, the fact that many games won’t allow a player to progress without having an internet connection. Whilst it isn’t so much a problem with internet usage being so widespread, it does raise concerns about when connectivity becomes a problem for whatever reason.
We’ll take a look at why always online could be harming gaming, with recent examples of releases that have went through a major change compared to older titles because of this requirement – and we’ll take a look at some of the drawbacks to the studios that are pushing forward with this always online process too.
It’s important to note that there are many genres of games that have been built around this entire model and would never be changed, niches like the MMORPG genre are built around having a huge collective player base that drive features like the in-game economy, trading, and balance for the game and simply changing these to a single player game would never work.
Similarly in smaller type games for other platforms, features like live dealer casinos found at online-casinos.in for example which have grown in popularity, once again the entire premise of the game is built around being always online as it’s not possible to have a live dealer experience without the live dealer! As such there are some games which will never see change.
The biggest example of change to come to this space in the last few months is with Valve’s Counter-Strike 2 release, and whilst this is considered to be an online game and requires an internet connection to play, Counter-Strike 2 did something that the previous games did not do which was temporarily remove access to the previous title of Global Offensive. Whilst access to the game has been restored, the live nature aspect of the game has been vastly different to the previous titles.
Valve have since had their first interview in a very long time stating that some of this change was due to combining development efforts and speeding up the development of their newest title, but something that was overlooked was this always online requirement – with the release of matchmaking and an online market, Valve were responsible for hosting many of the servers that players used, hosting the online market for the game, and providing other live service features that brought the game to life. Previous titles were all community run, private community servers that are still online to this day, with Valve only fronting a small cost for keeping the games online.
Whilst it sparked a huge amount of community feedback, the approach was always quite obvious – why pay a huge amount for the cost of service and other live service features when you’d like players to move onto the new game? A temporary restriction of access to the game to close all of these live service features was the obvious way forward.
The game can still be played offline in a LAN environment or with bots, but its with this shift to “always online” or live service gaming that have led to these complications, and Counter-Strike isn’t the only title and in many ways is a very small blip on the radar for the amount of games that have went down this path in even more egregious ways, always-online DRM was a huge topic for some time where even single player games weren’t accessible in an offline environment.
It’s something that many players have taken for granted over time, and something that will continue to shift for quite some time, but a reliance on live service features and always-online aspects have made some games less accessible, and in the long run could be something harming the gaming market overall.