What a year to launch a site dedicated to cooperative gaming! By our count there were over 100 cooperative titles released across eight platforms. The Xbox 360 led the way with over 40 titles, and if you roll in the Xbox Live Arcade that brings the number to over 60 cooperative games available on the platform in 2008 alone! Even more surprising is the fact the Xbox 360 led the way in terms of average Metacritic score of a 72. Our hats off to Microsoft for providing a stellar platform and support for co-op gaming. Lets not discount the PlayStation 3 and Wii which provided 35 and 27 cooperative games respectively. Wherever you looked, there was some good co-op gaming to be had.
There were some interesting trends we saw this year. The one that sticks out for me is the resurgence of classic co-op games, or classic games with added co-op. Capcom led the way with 1942: Joint Strike, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, and Bionic Commando: Rearmed. The best thing about these games was the multiplatform availability with a great $10 price point. Other notable additions from other publishers include Duke Nukem 3D, Tron, and Ikaruga. All of these games had a common theme of being easy to pick up and play, and of course cheap. It really became the year of the Arcade and Downloadable title as some great original co-op games like Aces of the Galaxy, Schizoid, and Rocketmen: Axis of Evil all were available.
Duke Nukem 3D for the Xbox Live Arcade is a great example of a co-op classic revival.
If there was another trend that stuck out at me, it was the fact that co-op moved from a bullet point on the back of the box to the touted feature of the game. This was easily seen at Microsoft's E3 press conference in which two of their biggest sequels, Fable 2 and Gears of War 2, both had cooperative play brought to the forefront. Gears of War 2 even created a brand new cooperative mode called Horde just for online play. Sony's big sequel for the year, Resistance 2, pushed the envelope with an entire 8 player co-op campaign; while Little Big Planet broke new grounds on defining a co-op experience in a family friendly and creative atmosphere. Publishers were now on board in realizing that gamers want co-op in their games.