The latest Bonus Round episode on GameTrailers.com features a diversified panel that lays out some great perspectives on co-op as it currently exists and how they see it evolving in future games.
They close out the episode by discussing the approach that developers take when considering co-op implementation, and also the different types of game-playing that co-op fans partake of (couch co-op, online co-op, lack of co-op, and even MMO cooperative traits).
Robert Bowling (Twitter: @fourzerotwo) put a nice spin on the two-player co-op mode -- called Special Ops -- included in the upcoming surefire smash hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; Infinity Ward's defense comes from the developers' realization that four players are rarely in the same room anymore. If they do happen to be...there's always Rock Band.
Bowling also made sure to mention that the Special Ops mode was designed with the Call of Duty single-player campaigns in mind, wherein the experiences were pushed along and driven by a solitary character that often accompanies the player. In this regard, Infinity Ward is designing their particular "flavor of co-op" -- as he calls it -- to be an intimate experience, one that omits playing with random people. Is this a new fad? If so, I don't like it. Nevertheless, these high-profile co-op gimpings are setting a bar that other games (such as Borderlands, Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2) are going to have to adjust in order to round out the many different ways to play co-op.
Thankfully, the discussion includes a lot of positivity toward co-op itself. The panel gets some wires twisted at one point by describing certain team-based competitive games as being definitively co-op, but we beg to differ. At the very least, we're glad that co-op is being more and more recognized as a desirable way to play the hottest new games.