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Split Screen Gaming: The Rise And Fall

Split Screen Gaming: The Rise And Fall

As someone who grew up playing video games, there’s an itch that no modern day game has been able to scratch. I’m talking about split screen couch co-op gaming. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s as a gamer, we all had friends and siblings with whom we would play games with. It could have just been passing the controller around or watching someone play while you sat, but the best thing ever was to play together. Huddled around a small television, laughing, calling out each other for screen cheating and then getting scolded by your parents because you were making too much noise is honestly one of my fondest memories not just related to gaming but in general.

Split Beginnings

It all started back with GoldenEye on the N64 that had a 4 player split screen deathmatch mode. The mode was so popular that other developers decided to add this to their games as they knew that a feature like that was the next big thing. And then came Halo: Combat Evolved that introduced split screen gaming to a new generation of gamers and made them fall in love with video games. This is one of the top reasons why people still love Halo, because of the co-op campaign that allowed people to spend hours and hours on end just playing alongside their best friend, going through the emotions of defeat and triumph together. It was a way of bonding with people that is just not found a lot these days.

Glorious 4 player mode

Split Ends

So why have developers stopped or have been stopped by publishers to add this feature into their games you might think to yourself? Well, there’s a couple of reasons for this, one of which is to sell more copies. Every game developer and publisher wants to make a profit so that they can continue making games. So they thought, why not remove the offline multiplayer and make it online so people are forced to buy their own copy to play with their friends. They started to move towards newer ways of playing the game while also finding a way of increasing profits. They have moved towards making gaming more “social” by adding various online features like making your own party to play online with, emotes and new ways of communicating in the game, but they have forgotten that calling your friends over for a gaming session was also a social thing to do. Heck, I still have gaming sessions with my friends where we just chill and play games likes FIFA and Mario Kart for hours on end.

Two Much To Handle

Another reason for the fall of split screen couch co-op gaming is the hardware limitations of consoles. Now before all of the console lovers come at me with pitchforks, hear me out. Games on the older systems were not too graphically intensive. The textures were not High Quality, jagged edges were not an issue and framerates between 23 to 30 was acceptable. Modern day titles are much more intensive and taxing along with developers wanting to release the best looking game possible they would have had to compromise on lowering the graphics for Split Screen. Add to that the framerate hit that it might incur, they opted not to do it for the fear of being bashed by the public for a bad looking or a game that played with a bad framerate in a certain mode. So I might say that we, the community might have been one of the reasons for the downfall of this wonderful mode.

Let’s bring this back

Play By Me

With these points in mind it begs the question, can Split Screen couch co-op make a comeback? I honestly feel that it can. Nintendo has been pretty on point with this since they have games that can be played by up to 4 or 5 players at once with a couple of extra controllers and these games are a lot of fun.We have 4K televisions in the market with huge screens, consoles that are powerful enough to upscale to 4K resolutions, even if it is dynamic and, we even more gamers than ever before! There are so many casual gamers out there who just want to chill out, sit with their friends and/or loved ones and just relax while playing together. So why not bring back offline co-op campaigns and offline modes to the modes that do have online support and let people bond and have more fun.

Have any suggestions as to what developers can do regarding this? Or just have an anecdote that you would like to share? Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section below.

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