Major multiplayer games: how do they succeed?

TGO Daily

TGO After-Show

Talking all about online multiplayer games and how they succeed/struggle!


How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from The Gaming Observer, and welcome back to the Sunday show, May 31, 2020. Super excited to be here, let’s get right into it.

Alright today’s topic was suggested by Alex, and if you ever have a suggestion or idea for a weekend show you’re always welcome to send it my way. You can put it in the Discord server, or email me, tweet me, wherever it is, I’ll find it 🙂So anyway, today I want to talk about major online multiplayer games, and why certain games have succeeded where others have struggled. This is notable right now because of Crucible, right. You heard me talk about it, this is the latest game from Amazon, and yet very few people are talking about it or playing despite the game being not all that bad. So why did that happen, why did it also happen for games like Battleborn and Lawbreaks, and why didn’t it happen to games like Apex or Valorant?

Now obviously we’ll never have a definitive answer here, but it’s definitely an interesting one to explore. I think that games in this genre which succeed happen for a number of reasons which won’t always be the same. Anna Marie mentioned this in the Discord, where a game like Apex had a lot going for them, “[a] smart and experienced team, good scope management, and incredibly good timing of launching and it hit the right influences.” And there’s definitely something to be said there right, it wasn’t just one thing that worked, but a number of things in combination with luck. I think you can look at any of these games and say that they could have gone either direction if luck was or wasn’t in their favour. However, I don’t think everything gets pinned on that alone.

You look at something like Battleborn and personally I feel bad for that team. If you don’t know, this was a hero shooter from Gearbox that launchd at around the same time as Overwatch. Had they launched the game a year earlier or later, it may have been a different story for them, because by all accounts the game was enjoyable, it just couldn’t keep up. And they tried to do a similar thing as Lawbreakers, where they had a small dedicated community that they wanted to play the long-game with while they tried to get more players. Unfortunately, unlike a offline singleplayer game, you can’t just leave something dormant and hope it picks up in a few years. Servers need to stay up, players need new content, and that means resources need to go towards it. Unfortuantely that also means the company is banking on a major success.

One place that I think gaming companies in general still don’t have a great grasp of, including in this genre, is marketing. A major reason Apex succeeded was because there was no advertising, they just launched the game with a bunch of influencers playing it on day one, and it caught people’s attention. Overwatch had people buying in to the story of all the characters immediately, and had it playable as soon as they announced it at BlizzCon to drum up excitement. You know, not a lot people even know what Crucible is, and I think that is a true shame, because the game has potential. Now, if they took the exact same approach as Apex or Overwatch would it have worked, I think there’s no way.