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Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev

An article on Polygon offers an extensive look at Spec Ops: The Line, Yager's recently released third-person shooter set in a windstorm-swept Dubai. This offers a detailed exploration of some of the game's themes (warning of spoilers for those who are yet to play), and hears from lead writer Walt Williams on the topic. An interesting aspect of this noted by VG247 is Williams referring to the game's multiplayer support as "a cancerous growth" forced on them as a checkbox item by publisher 2K Games:

Against Davis' wishes, development on the multiplayer component proceeded and was farmed out to Darkside Studios. The result, according to Davis, was a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person," which "tossed out the creative pillars of the product." "It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience," Davis said. "The multiplayer game's tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money. No one is playing it, and I don't even feel like it's part of the overall package it's another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating."

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32. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 30, 2012, 08:35 InBlack
 
Jedi Master wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 19:58:
My guess is "Skyrim has no MP yet has had massive sales" ergo the "game must have MP" mantra is flawed.

However, if Skyrim had been a military shooter instead of a fantasy RPG, I don't think it would've sold even 1/10 as well. Different genres, different games, different audiences.

And we have a winner! At least the first part. I dont agree about the second part though, a game can stand on the merit of its single player portion regardles of genre. As long as the single player is good enough, look at Bioshock for example. Think people bought that because of its multiplayer?
 
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31. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 23:03 Jerykk
 
2) But your choice of a 6 hour game with multiplayer or a 12 hour game without isn't typically the choice. What if it was an 8 hour, stellar single player or the exact same game spread out over 12 hours by adding filler to the story, putting in levels that feel out of place, etc.? Some games just don't extend well, and while they're a blast for 8 hours they start losing their welcome after that. Would you rather they extend it? For lots of games more isn't better. No matter how much effort is put into the more added, more just isn't better. Some games shouldn't overstay their welcome.

If a game has strong core gameplay, diverse and interesting level design and sufficient variety, extending it shouldn't be a bad thing. Extending a game is only problematic when you lack the above things. Alan Wake, for example, feels like it goes on far too long because there's no variety or depth. Deus Ex, on the other hand, doesn't overstay its welcome because it has plenty of depth and variety.

On another note, the reason why publishers insist on tacking on multiplayer is because they want to delay second-hand sales for as long as possible. Even if people only play the multiplayer for a week, that's enough of a delay to make the publishers happy. If there were no used sales, publishers wouldn't feel the need to resort to stupid methods to prevent them.
 
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30. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 20:03 Asmo
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 12:29:
Who said customers weren't happy? The developer is saying he's not happy, but isn't saying the customers aren't happy.

He is in fact saying the customers aren't happy....

"No one is playing it"

Happy customers don't abandon a supposedly key part of your product. If no one is playing it, it's because they aren't happy with it.

Critical thinking and introspection has gone out the f#cking window lately. I face a similar problem at work where our management knows we have x workload and y staff, and the way to increase how much work we get done is to reshuffle the department (so no more staff, training etc). A change of seat should be great to wring an extra couple of minutes out of my already full time day where I'm typically working non stop.

And that's the problem, once you get out of the trenches, you lose touch with the reality of the situation. Just as you have done Beamer. The dev implicitly stated that MP was a flop (something that no one plays can hardly be termed a 'success'). And yet you are here saying it's fickle customers causing the problem? Did you work on the game? Do you have some mystical insight that a guy who actually worked on the game doesn't have?

The fact there are rabidly successful games out there proves that you can make customers happy by virtue of making a good game.
 
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29. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 19:58 Jedi Master
 
My guess is "Skyrim has no MP yet has had massive sales" ergo the "game must have MP" mantra is flawed.

However, if Skyrim had been a military shooter instead of a fantasy RPG, I don't think it would've sold even 1/10 as well. Different genres, different games, different audiences.
 
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28. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 19:44 PHJF
 
If you play a game for 5 hours vs 500 hours, the second one is considered to be the better value, regardless of the inherent quality of each game.

Max Payne 2 is one of the best games ever, and it's also one of the shortest.
 
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27. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 19:16 Bhruic
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 17:47:
There are a few issues here:
1) Obviously a large, open-ended world is a way to add value in a single player game, but there are a few issues here. For one, not every game, not every genre, and not every story lends itself to such things. For another, people tend to get burned out on these games and often will play one for 80+ hours then look for something less vast for a while. Lastly, some games end up feeling open for the sake of being open rather than actually needing to be, creating worthless grind (see: GUN, Mafia 2, etc.) And, regardless, the internet is full of people annoyed that Skyrim doesn't have multiplayer.

I'm not sure how this is an issue, as I didn't say every game should be an open-ended world. I said that is one of the ways people look at games in terms of perceived value. For most people, the value of a game is increased the more they play it. If you play a game for 5 hours vs 500 hours, the second one is considered to be the better value, regardless of the inherent quality of each game. That's why multiplayer is considered a good selling point, because when you have stuff like BF X, or CoD X, people that like them tend to spend a lot of time playing them. In their minds, multiplayer = game longevity.

And the internet isn't full of people annoyed Skyrim doesn't have multiplayer, the internet has a number of people who would have enjoyed it if Skyrim had coop play.

2) But your choice of a 6 hour game with multiplayer or a 12 hour game without isn't typically the choice. What if it was an 8 hour, stellar single player or the exact same game spread out over 12 hours by adding filler to the story, putting in levels that feel out of place, etc.? Some games just don't extend well, and while they're a blast for 8 hours they start losing their welcome after that. Would you rather they extend it? For lots of games more isn't better. No matter how much effort is put into the more added, more just isn't better. Some games shouldn't overstay their welcome.

Perhaps you're unfamiliar with the term "hypothetical"? You were making a big deal about how customers claim to want multiplayer, so I gave you a scenario where customers would overwhelming prefer the game without multiplayer to the one which had it. In other words, "multiplayer" isn't an automatic selling point, which you've been suggesting is the case.

As for the issue of "extending" games, that's not my problem. It's up to the developer/publisher to convince people that an 8 hour game is worth the money they are charging for it. For a lot of people it's not, because as I said, many people approach games from a time/value perspective. If someone wants to convince them otherwise, they have to convince them that quality is better than quantity. It's possible to do, but quite difficult to pull off.

3) And as to developers needing to do a better job explaining the value of what they're selling... how? No one trusts previews, and only a few read them anyway. Do you know what one of the top methods for selling a game is? The box. But there's little to judge on. Again, an extremely large part of the population will judge based on having two games in their hand and reading the back of the box. With little else to go on, they will very often buy the one that says it has multiplayer. For this reason lots of games get a stupid, tacked-on multiplayer no one ever expects anyone will play. It isn't like the people making the multiplayer aren't trying, but it's often a game that doesn't lend itself to it and everyone knows people are too busy playing the latest and greatest game built around multiplayer to bother with whatever this is. But you'll still get an enormous amount of people that use the inclusion of multiplayer as a way to make their poorly-informed decision in the store.

Again, that's not my problem. It's the problem of developers who want to make 8hr games and sell them for $60. And again, the reason that they use "multiplayer" to try and sell a game, that has nothing to do with multiplayer, and everything to do with changing customers' perceived value. A game with multiplayer is considered, rightly or wrongly, to have a longer lifespan than a game without. That's fine, as far as it goes, if people get suckered, that's their loss.
 
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26. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 19:11 PHJF
 
Ummm maybe they shouldn't have made a MILITARY SHOOTER if they wanted to create a product with real integrity. You think a marketing suit is going to look at two products so similar and give the nod to the one WITHOUT the "added value" of an online component? If you're so concerned with making an interesting, original product then try picking a setting or genre where it might actually be appreciated.  
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25. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 18:04 Acleacius
 
2K Games did the same thing to Bioshock Infinite, lets hope Levine can get that removed before release in February.  
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.That is easy.All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.It works the same way in any country.
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24. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 18:02 Dades
 
Did multiplayer make Spec Ops: The Line a lesser game? No.

According to the developers it did.
 
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23. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 17:47 Beamer
 
Bhruic wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 17:36:
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:55:
Customers are often wrong, yes, it's one of the dumbest myths in the world that "the customer is always right."

You know as well as I do that the "the customer is always right" line has nothing to do with the customer actually being right, and everything to do with the attitude service personnel are expected to take towards customers.

Duh. But some here have gotten angry at me for saying "the customer isn't always right," and having had that argument before on this very site I wanted to cut it off before it started, and given that he opened with an incredulous "you're saying the customer is wrong?"...

You're talking about perceived product value. The reason people say they'd like multiplayer in a game has nothing to do with multiplayer, it has to do with people thinking about how much time they spend playing a particular game. With some notable exceptions (stuff like Skyrim, or GTA), people spend the most time playing multiplayer games. So when you ask them what they'd like to increase the perceived value of a game, they are going to say "multiplayer". Because in their mind, multiplayer would increase the amount of time they'd spend playing the game, and therefore increase their perceived value.

But they could just as easily say "large, open-ended world". The notable exceptions I listed tend to have that, which is another avenue to longer play times.

But at the end of the day, if you asked people if they'd rather have a 6hr single player with a shitty multiplayer tacked on, or a purely single player 12hr game, almost everyone would choose the latter. Game developers (well, publishers) need to do a better job explaining to people the value of the products they are selling, if they really think they are worth it. If I can spend $60 and get a game like Skyrim that I play for well over 100hrs, or a game like GW2 where I can play even longer, why would I want to spend $60 for 12hr of single player? This isn't the hypothetical "well, what about movies" scenario, it's a direct apples-to-apples comparison. If you're competing for customers' dollars, you have to be able to convince them your product is worth their money. Tacking on shitty multiplayer isn't going to do it.

There are a few issues here:
1) Obviously a large, open-ended world is a way to add value in a single player game, but there are a few issues here. For one, not every game, not every genre, and not every story lends itself to such things. For another, people tend to get burned out on these games and often will play one for 80+ hours then look for something less vast for a while. Lastly, some games end up feeling open for the sake of being open rather than actually needing to be, creating worthless grind (see: GUN, Mafia 2, etc.) And, regardless, the internet is full of people annoyed that Skyrim doesn't have multiplayer.

2) But your choice of a 6 hour game with multiplayer or a 12 hour game without isn't typically the choice. What if it was an 8 hour, stellar single player or the exact same game spread out over 12 hours by adding filler to the story, putting in levels that feel out of place, etc.? Some games just don't extend well, and while they're a blast for 8 hours they start losing their welcome after that. Would you rather they extend it? For lots of games more isn't better. No matter how much effort is put into the more added, more just isn't better. Some games shouldn't overstay their welcome.

3) And as to developers needing to do a better job explaining the value of what they're selling... how? No one trusts previews, and only a few read them anyway. Do you know what one of the top methods for selling a game is? The box. But there's little to judge on. Again, an extremely large part of the population will judge based on having two games in their hand and reading the back of the box. With little else to go on, they will very often buy the one that says it has multiplayer. For this reason lots of games get a stupid, tacked-on multiplayer no one ever expects anyone will play. It isn't like the people making the multiplayer aren't trying, but it's often a game that doesn't lend itself to it and everyone knows people are too busy playing the latest and greatest game built around multiplayer to bother with whatever this is. But you'll still get an enormous amount of people that use the inclusion of multiplayer as a way to make their poorly-informed decision in the store.
 
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22. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 17:36 Bhruic
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:55:
Customers are often wrong, yes, it's one of the dumbest myths in the world that "the customer is always right."

You know as well as I do that the "the customer is always right" line has nothing to do with the customer actually being right, and everything to do with the attitude service personnel are expected to take towards customers.

Dude, it doesn't matter how much better they make it, people will still complain that the hours to dollars ratio is a key component. They'd rather 12 mediocre hours to 6 fantastic ones.

You're talking about perceived product value. The reason people say they'd like multiplayer in a game has nothing to do with multiplayer, it has to do with people thinking about how much time they spend playing a particular game. With some notable exceptions (stuff like Skyrim, or GTA), people spend the most time playing multiplayer games. So when you ask them what they'd like to increase the perceived value of a game, they are going to say "multiplayer". Because in their mind, multiplayer would increase the amount of time they'd spend playing the game, and therefore increase their perceived value.

But they could just as easily say "large, open-ended world". The notable exceptions I listed tend to have that, which is another avenue to longer play times.

But at the end of the day, if you asked people if they'd rather have a 6hr single player with a shitty multiplayer tacked on, or a purely single player 12hr game, almost everyone would choose the latter. Game developers (well, publishers) need to do a better job explaining to people the value of the products they are selling, if they really think they are worth it. If I can spend $60 and get a game like Skyrim that I play for well over 100hrs, or a game like GW2 where I can play even longer, why would I want to spend $60 for 12hr of single player? This isn't the hypothetical "well, what about movies" scenario, it's a direct apples-to-apples comparison. If you're competing for customers' dollars, you have to be able to convince them your product is worth their money. Tacking on shitty multiplayer isn't going to do it.
 
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21. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 17:34 Beamer
 
JoeNapalm wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 13:56:
Beamer, you're demonstrating exactly what is wrong with "The Industry." I'm not saying you are wrong, just that the industry, itself, is limping along on a flawed model.

Games are art...I don't care what the Supreme Court or you or whoever has to say about it, they're art. And just like other forms of art in the entertainment industry, like books and movies, when it becomes an industry, things get all jacked up.

This is because Suits don't get art. They don't understand it, and they sure as fuck don't MAKE it. Suits only understand, only make, one thing - MONEY.

Which is why Beamer and I are talking about two entirely different things. See, I'm talking about making good games, and Suits don't give a rat's ass about that.

So when the Suits (for example) take over a previously beloved game company, they can't understand why they hit all the bullet points and buzz words and did their focus groups and spread sheets and their game is a massive flop. They had AAA graphics and sound. They had SP and MP. They threw in MMO and 3D late in development. They had vampires or ponies or whatever is "hot" this week. And they lose money.

Must be those damn pirates.

Yet games like Minecraft, Mount & Blade, Portal and DayZ and countless other "from nowhere" games are successful, despite very clearly NOT having all the bullet points and focus groups (you seriously think people KNOW what they want?). Games like Sleeping Dogs are popular and successful, yet lack multiplayer, but the Suits will only see "lost sales."

More damn pirates. Shoulda had always-online DRM. Shoulda made an MMO.

The Suits don't get that there's a difference between the gaming community and grandma buying something off the rack at S-Mart. They don't even begin to understand what makes some games legendary and others utterly tank. They'll tell you they do, but they don't. If they did, you wouldn't see so many AAA disasters.

The Suits refuse to acknowledge that there is anything more to the consumer than money (hence Beamer's comments that it doesn't matter if we are happy, just that we give them money) or that there's more to a game than a collection of features.

Because games are art. And it takes artists, not Suits, to make good art. Money is generally a different story, sadly.


-Jn-
Ifriti Sophist
When good games sell and bad games don't then "suits" will care about it. So long as customers buy mostly independent of quality you'll have that.

Regardless, I'm not even discussing quality. Did multiplayer make Spec Ops: The Line a lesser game? No. Did it detract from the main game? No, a different team made it. Did it take money from the main game? Possibly, but if it did not much, as it clearly had low resources.

The "suits" wanted a great game. And, by most reviews, they got one. But they knew simply being a great game wasn't enough. It needs to have certain features to sell well.

YOU don't understand what makes games sell. Sorry, again, being "legendary" doesn't cut it, as I can name dozens of legendary games that barely made money, or lost so much that the studio went out of business. Simply being "legendary" isn't enough, and "suits" have to hedge their bets. Stop whining about it. In the case of Spec Ops: The Line there was NO loss to this. They made sure there was a great single player game with some real depth tackling issues games very rarely tackle, then there was a tacked-on multiplayer component for idiots that won't buy otherwise.

And your second to last paragraph makes no sense, either. Of COURSE there is more than money, but no company stays alive by making consumers happy. They stay alive by SELLING A PRODUCT! On top of that, no suit is happy if his customers aren't happy. Do you know who returns? Happy customers! Do you know who doesn't return? Unhappy customers! It's very simple. But someone isn't a happy or unhappy customer until they fucking buy the product, and too many people say "I won't buy that game because it doesn't have multiplayer."

Jesus, stop fucking over-analyzing this and acting like the publisher wants you to be miserable. He wants you to be happy, but above that he wants you to be his fucking customer. He'd rather you be an unhappy customer of his than not a customer of his at all, but he'd much, much rather you be a happy customer that talks about how great the product is and buys the DLC and buys the sequel and buys anything with certain brand names on it because you trust the quality coming from there. But, again, none of that matters if you don't buy the product in the first place because it's missing a feature identified on the back of the fucking box and buy a different game because it has that little check-mark that says "playable by 64 people online!"
 
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20. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 17:22 mch
 
007Bistromath wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 15:50:
InBlack wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 10:58:
One word: Skyrim

nuff said...

No, actually, that is not enough said. What on Earth does Skyrim have to do with this?

Hahaha I was going to say the exact same thing. Whaaaa?
 
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19. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 15:50 007Bistromath
 
InBlack wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 10:58:
One word: Skyrim

nuff said...

No, actually, that is not enough said. What on Earth does Skyrim have to do with this?
 
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18. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 15:06 Mordecai Walfish
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:11:
it's one of the dumbest myths in the world that "the customer is always right."

This wouldn't technically be a "myth", it's simply a customer service philosophy, which nets more return customers. I don't think anyone in the history of mankind ever thought this to be some kind of integral truth.
 
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17. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 14:20 JediPunisher
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:11:
At the same time, plenty of people (even here) say "no multiplayer? I'm not paying $60 for a 12 hour single player game!"
So multiplayer gets tacked on, and it sucks, and no one is happy. Or, sometimes, an additional 4-6 hours is tacked on, and they suck and outstay their welcome, and no one is happy.

While I do enjoy well polished multiplayer, for most games I'm fine with SP only. I'd prefer their budget to be spent on extending SP instead of adding crappy multiplayer designed by a different developer.

I'm not sure MP matters that much to publishers as long as its a lengthy SP campaign. You see, the idea is to entice purchasers to keep the game for a few weeks before trading it in, which in turn maximizes sales of new copies. The problem is that too many games nowadays have SP campaigns that can be completed in a single afternoon; Those games really need quality MP to keep them out of the bargain bin.

This comment was edited on Aug 29, 2012, 14:33.
 
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16. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 13:56 JoeNapalm
 
Beamer, you're demonstrating exactly what is wrong with "The Industry." I'm not saying you are wrong, just that the industry, itself, is limping along on a flawed model.

Games are art...I don't care what the Supreme Court or you or whoever has to say about it, they're art. And just like other forms of art in the entertainment industry, like books and movies, when it becomes an industry, things get all jacked up.

This is because Suits don't get art. They don't understand it, and they sure as fuck don't MAKE it. Suits only understand, only make, one thing - MONEY.

Which is why Beamer and I are talking about two entirely different things. See, I'm talking about making good games, and Suits don't give a rat's ass about that.

So when the Suits (for example) take over a previously beloved game company, they can't understand why they hit all the bullet points and buzz words and did their focus groups and spread sheets and their game is a massive flop. They had AAA graphics and sound. They had SP and MP. They threw in MMO and 3D late in development. They had vampires or ponies or whatever is "hot" this week. And they lose money.

Must be those damn pirates.

Yet games like Minecraft, Mount & Blade, Portal and DayZ and countless other "from nowhere" games are successful, despite very clearly NOT having all the bullet points and focus groups (you seriously think people KNOW what they want?). Games like Sleeping Dogs are popular and successful, yet lack multiplayer, but the Suits will only see "lost sales."

More damn pirates. Shoulda had always-online DRM. Shoulda made an MMO.

The Suits don't get that there's a difference between the gaming community and grandma buying something off the rack at S-Mart. They don't even begin to understand what makes some games legendary and others utterly tank. They'll tell you they do, but they don't. If they did, you wouldn't see so many AAA disasters.

The Suits refuse to acknowledge that there is anything more to the consumer than money (hence Beamer's comments that it doesn't matter if we are happy, just that we give them money) or that there's more to a game than a collection of features.

Because games are art. And it takes artists, not Suits, to make good art. Money is generally a different story, sadly.


-Jn-
Ifriti Sophist
 
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15. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 13:56 Agent.X7
 
Mmm, I actually liked Bulletstorm. Gonna have to go back and play that. Sometime. When I'm not playing GW2. Oh, wait, Borderlands 2 is close...And the BF 3 expansion.....arg.  
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14. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 13:50 Beamer
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 12:33:
And no one here is blaming the consumer for not liking the taste. The blame is demanding extra effort be put into wasted areas. If multiplayer is a necessary checkmark on the back of a box in order to get a consumer to pay $60 instead of $30 then every game is going to get a half-assed crappy multiplayer the developer never expects you to play. Fine, whatever, it results in more industry jobs and keeps the product margin high.

Gotta disagree. The lack of people playing multiplayer in Bioshock 2, Deadspace 2, Spec Ops, Singularity, etc, shows that people don't really care about tacked on multiplayer. If you make a single-player experience that is compelling and has replayability, people will buy it. Instead of wasting time and money on multiplayer, developers would be better off spending those resources on extending and improving the single-player experience.

I think that comes back to the customer being wrong. Trust me, people routinely say "I would have bought it if it had multiplayer." Heck, look at the Bulletstorm conversations on this board. The complaints come down to:
1) The vulgarity is stupid. This game sucks
2) Why can't I jump? This game sucks
3) Epic sucks, therefore this game sucks
4) This game is too short and I'm not spending the money on it
5) Why isn't there multiplayer?

In order. I am in no way passing judgment on these complaints, but they're the common ones. Outside of this board #2 and #3 disappear, and #4 and #5 are very tied together.

Consumers often demand multiplayer, and say it would make them buy. I'm saying they're wrong for buying, and as you mention, they don't use it. But just having that check box will often get them to buy it. Unless a game is remarkable, like BioShock was, if they pick up two boxes and one says it has multiplayer and one does not they too often choose the one with it.
 
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13. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 13:20 ASeven
 
Cutter wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 12:51:
Creston wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:11:
It's about fucking time a dev stands up and says it out loud. Respect, Williams.

Yeah, mad props to him for that.

Yeah, agreed. Respect.
 
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