With all of the great co-op titles of the previous year, and plenty more to come over the next few months, one thing should be clear: co-op is on the rise. As a regular part of our interviews with all of the great folks in the games industry, we ask them what their thoughts are on why there’s been a resurgence of co-op in games lately. In addition to their thoughts, the Co-Optimus staff has taken a look back over the past year and offers their insights into why so many people want to play co-op games.
History Likes to Repeat Itself
Just like with films, music, and fashion, certain trends tend to keep popping up. Within the video games industry, we’ve seen the rise and fall and rise of the shooters, jRPGs, fighters, beat ‘em ups, and just about every other genre out there, so why not co-op gaming? Editor Marc “djinniman” Allie and Assoc. Editor Katrina "ShadokatRegn" Pawlowski certainly subscribe to the ideology that everything old is new again.
Once, arcade machines were made just the right size for four people to stand shoulder to shoulder as Marge, Bart, Lisa and Homer bashing the townsfolk of Springfield. Now, you rarely see arcades, but many households have some form of gaming system connected by the Internet. As more people become interested in games, more people will want to share the experiences; what better way to do that, than cooperating to meet a common goal? Where we once stood in a Pizza Hut to play a video game with friends 15 years ago as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello, we can now save April and Splinter from the comfort of our couches while connected with people half-way around the world.
Why is co-op more popular these days? Look back to the history of gaming in general. Early arcade games were almost entirely single player or competitive multiplayer. It took about ten or fifteen years for good co-op games to show up. Gauntlet, TMNT, Double Dragon, and games like them took over, and co-op remained popular in arcades up until arcades pretty much died off. Now, look at gaming in the early 90s, when 3D gaming and playing over the Internet blossomed. Just like in arcades, the focus was on competitive multiplayer at first: for example, deathmatch in Doom or Quake. At this point in the cycle, that same 10 or 15-year period, technical horsepower and broadband bandwidth have converged. You and three friends can play together, relatively lag free, without worrying about the system specs of their PCs. Co-op is booming on consoles today, just like it did twenty years ago in the arcades.