Here at Kwalee, in collaboration with the independent game development studio, Muse Games, we can still recall the momentous launch of Wildmender on September 28th, 2023.
Couch Co-op Games vs Online, You Decide!
Remember the good old days when our idea of a wild Friday night was huddled around the clunky PlayStation 1, with the controller wires intertwining like vines, all in the name of couch co-op games? Fast forward to 2023, and the gaming world has transformed, with a wide choice of online multiplayer experiences. But here's the burning question, which style of gaming is truly the better experience to play with friends, on the coach with friends vs online in an immersive realm?
Couch co-op games, here to stay?
Back in the day, gaming was marked by the gathering of friends in a dimly lit room in someone’s house, squished together on a couch, or pushed onto the floor, immersed in multiplayer madness. Those were the days of epic battles, thrilling races, and the kind of gatherings that only couch co-op games could offer. But it wasn't all fun and games, there were downsides, such as the consistent shortage of controllers and the squabbling over screen peeping along with the accusation “you were looking at my screen!” It was social, yes, but it had its quirks.
The beauty of couch co-op gaming wasn't just the pixels on the screen, it was the shared moments. The thrill of celebrating a well-deserved victory or commiserating over a devastating loss was an emotional rollercoaster worth riding. It was also about the joy of discovering new adventures with friends, side by side. That's the essence of couch co-op gaming, and while times have changed, the memories and connections formed during that time are as vivid as ever.
Online multiplayer gaming
Fast forward to 2023, and the world of multiplayer gaming has transformed into a digital wonderland, where the only limit is your imagination. Gone are the days of struggling to coordinate busy schedules and praying for controller wires to detangle by themselves. When playing online, whether this is PC or Console, all it takes is a few clicks, and you're ready to roll, not just in the same room or town, but with friends from all over the world.
The online multiplayer scene also offers a wide choice of gaming experiences for every taste imaginable. Whether you're a fan of heart-pounding shooters, epic adventures, or nail-biting strategy games, there are endless options at your fingertips.
But the icing on the online multiplayer cake is the social connection. Remember the joy of sitting shoulder to shoulder with your pals? Well, that's still very much alive in the digital age, but instead you have voice chat and messaging, where you can laugh, strategise, and share epic moments with your friends in real time, no matter where they are. And the best part? You can also make new friends who share your passion for gaming.
What do the team at Kwalee say?
We’ve asked a few of our team members here at Kwalee, about their thoughts on the topic. Will they prefer online multiplayer games or couch co-op. Let’s find out!
Digital Media Producer
“You know, when it comes to gaming, my vote highly goes to online gaming. I mean, take Final Fantasy 14, for instance. It's become more than just a game, for me it has become a community. I've built a massive network of friends, and the beauty of online gaming is the flexibility it offers, with there being so many of us we can actually schedule a time that suits everyone. No more juggling with limited schedules or controllers, and that's a game-changer.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the nostalgia of couch co-op, the days of ‘007 Under Fire’ and all the screen-watching arguments. It used to be a point of pride not to peek at the other person's screen, and I'll cherish those memories. But things have evolved, it's about mastering the map, honing your skills to the max, and let's face it, maybe bending the rules just a bit on Mario Kart!
There's this unique feeling with couch co-op, no doubt. But today's gaming offers a variety of experiences that just work better online. Online gaming offers a level of convenience, connectivity, and competition that's hard to beat on PC and Consoles. It's a world of its own, and I'm all for embracing it.”
Producer - PC and Console
“For me, it’s definitely online! When I was younger, the best memories were when I would be huddled with friends in front of a CRT TV, playing N64 classics like Goldeneye and Mario Kart, and we still reminisce about them, and this hasn't changed I still love to play video games.
Online gaming has become my go-to choice. I enjoy having the entire screen to myself, free from the temptation of friends peeking at my screen to gain an advantage. It's not just about the screen, though. It's also a matter of practicality, as my friends and I have all moved apart as we've grown older and taken on more responsibilities. Having friends over for gaming sessions just isn't as feasible anymore. Online gaming, be it competitive or cooperative, allows us to keep gaming, despite the physical distance between us.
Since my childhood, there has been a growing demand for more immersive and demanding gaming experiences. While I have many great memories of couch co-op games like Castle Crashers, it is clear that many modern games are designed for a single-screen experience due to hardware limitations and the want for higher quality.
However, it's essential to emphasise that couch co-op should never disappear. There will always be a timeless joy in sharing a split-screen experience with a buddy. Whether it's 2000 or 2023, these moments should be part of every gamer's life. They represent what video games are all about – creating lasting experiences that you can cherish and talk about for years to come.”
Vice President of Mobile Publishing
“For me in particular, I think it’s horses for courses, there’s pros and cons for both of these! In my spare time I play Call of Duty with friends once a week, and there’s a group of ten of us, we organise the play whenever we can. This is purely online, we communicate our actions on the headsets. Covid-19 was a very tough time for a lot of people, and the main way we communicated during that time was to play online. It gave us that ability to be sociable even when not there in person. From that perspective, playing online with friends, connecting with friends who can’t be with you expands the opportunities to play and build communities. A negative that could be said about online gaming is how much we rely on a strong internet connection to keep the immersive experience, and sometimes games need extensive updates.
That being said, there is something really nice about the physicality of actually being in person, being on the couch together playing video games, like Mario Kart. Being able to interact and celebrate with them adds that dimension to gaming, which is absent when playing online. A con to playing together in person could be related to cost, especially with the cost of hardware these days, not everyone can afford all the additional controllers. If friends are coming over, most of the time they will also need to bring their own controllers for multiplayer, but this can be clunky, add to time and become more of a chore! I’ll have to be the middleman in this debate, and say I would prefer to experience either multiplayer mode, rather than none at all!”
So, what's your take on the matter? Are you Team Chris and Team Lloyd, all in on online gaming? Or are you leaning towards Team John, appreciating the nostalgia and unique charm of couch co-op games? We're all ears and eager to hear your thoughts, so feel free to drop a comment below and let your voice be heard. Let's keep the conversation going, and remember, in the world of gaming, it's all about having fun and forging unforgettable memories, (no matter which side of the controller you're on!)
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