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Designing local multiplayer games for microconsoles
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Designing local multiplayer games for microconsoles

August 30, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Do you think microconsoles offer new opportunities in this arena? What makes them a good fit?

Bennett Foddy, Get on Top (Ouya port by Shay Pierce)

Games that are exclusively local multiplayer also haven't been big sellers in recent years. I think that's a big part of why the genre died awayóas internet connections and decent AI became more prevalent, people were prepared to spend more on games that didn't require another person to be physically present. But the microconsoles (and other cheap distribution options) make it much more viable for single developers or small teams to make games in less lucrative genres. It's not just that these consoles are cheap to buy, it's that they're super-cheap to develop for. So I think that's why we're seeing a bit of a resurgence.

As a developer of these styles of games, consoles (micro or macro) offer two great features: first, they're plugged into a big screen, which is good for sharing with other players but also great for attracting spectators within a living room. Second, they have proper controllers with lots of buttons and twin joysticks, which gives you great options as a designer. But getting things on the Xbox or Playstation is pretty hard, and it's expensive. With the Ouya or GameStick (or whatever else emerges) I can port my Flash or Unity game over in a couple of hours and have people playing the game on their TVs, with controllers, within days.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

I think the golden age of local multiplayer was the SNES and N64 days, and I spent many an hour with friends playing Mario Kart and Goldeneye, Contra, Tecmo Bowl, etc. As we've moved towards bigger, online-centric consoles, we've moved away from local multiplayer gaming. If anything, cheap microconsoles remind us that these types of games are still fun.

The Men Who Wear Many Hats, Organ Trail

Some of the troubles I've had trying to get my friends to play co-op games with me includes situations where larger games might take to long, we don't have enough controls or we all need to have our own computers. The cheaper systems that support multiple input devices and make it easy for small devs to put their content out, all address these issues. We can sit down and play a 5 minute game on the couch with any controllers we already own, or the cheap ones that come with it. The bigger systems really lacked that experience this gen.

I remember thinking that my old roommate and I just weren't as close anymore because we didn't have time to sit down for 8+ hours to play all the way through Gears of War 3 anymore. While I still love that some games have that longer experience... there weren't enough smaller experiences to share in the brief hours we were both free.

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

A lot of microconsole games are so small in scope that they wouldn't look out of place as mini-games in Mario Party, but I don't think this is a bad thing. If I'm at a friend's house and he asks if I'd like to play co-op in some big console game he just bought, I'm going to be hesitant since I know there's probably a learning curve and a huge campaign we'd barely make a dent in.

But if he were to fire up something simple like No Brakes Valet I'd likely be down for a few games. I'd like to think that microconsoles will help give a wider audience to devs who want to (whether by choice or necessity) make these types of smaller, more focused multiplayer games

E McNeill, Bombball

Consoles are generally better for local multiplayer than PC or mobile, and microconsoles are more friendly to indies. They aren't bringing any new technology to the table, but that's not the point. Instead, they're opening the door to indie innovation on consoles, and since it was so hard to do before, it's natural to see a lot of local multiplayer as a result.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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