Ramblings | Offline Mode as a Feature

Our world is grow­ing more and more con­nected every day. It’s gone from rude to almost assumed that smart­phones come out at some point dur­ing din­ner. Mul­ti­player in video games has felt quite a bit of this change as well. With rare excep­tion from Nin­tendo, it seems that the norm for mul­ti­player is chang­ing from some­thing you do on the couch next to your bud­dies to over a web­cam or head­set. With that rise in the pop­u­lar­ity of online mul­ti­player, we’re start­ing to see some games that don’t even give you the option to play by your­self, to the point where the lat­est game in the Call of Duty series actu­ally lists “offline mode” as a feature

OfflineBenThese online only games are still usu­ally the excep­tion and not the rule, but more have been crop­ping up lately and we’re start­ing to see some issues. Don’t get me wrong, peo­ple are enjoy­ing the games, the issue lies when peo­ple in areas that don’t have a great inter­net con­nec­tion are left of out being able to enjoy these games at all.

In a lot of these games, it’s obvi­ous that the main draw of the series is the online mul­ti­player. Call of Duty and Bat­tle­field cer­tainly come to mind when think­ing of this. Both of these series also throw a single-player cam­paign in there to make sure you can always have some­thing to play and to craft some con­text around the rest of the game. It’s eas­ier to feel con­nected to some­thing if you’ve got­ten a chance to see those char­ac­ters and loca­tions in a cohe­sive story. Are these sto­ries always good? Absolutely not. In fact, plenty of them are down­right campy and eas­ily skip­pable. The main point of their inclu­sion, aside from adding that frame­work, is to make sure those peo­ple with less than ideal con­nec­tions out there have an option if they want to play.

Back­ing up to E3 this year, Microsoft got in a bit of hot water. They announced that the Xbox One would require an online check of the own­er­ship of the games around every 24–48 hours. This was, after an awk­wardly long few weeks, changed, but it has since attached a stigma to the term “online” in the mass media. While any­one who has played a Call of Duty game in the past would look at the offline mode icon on the back and say “well duh,” it seems more like this is sim­ply an attempt to make sure any­one who was con­cerned about it back then knows that the whole “always online” scan­dal does not effect their Call of Duty playing.

I’m not sure if the offline mode icon will begin to be a sta­ple on the back of game boxes. Whether or not the game fea­tures online only should def­i­nitely be com­mu­ni­cated, and clearly, but I hon­estly think there being an offline mode in a game should be a given and not a fea­ture listed on the back of the box.

Source: IGN