Player Investment in Multiplayer: A Necessary Evil?

gears of war 3 beta unlocks

The Gears of War 3 beta is coming out next Tuesday, and I get to partake in it thanks to my holding onto the Epic Edition of Bulletstorm. As I was checking out the Gears of War 3 Beta Featurette that Eddy posted a few days ago, I noticed that Epic Games has taken a cue from their fellow developers and added a bit of player customization into the game, namely the ability to paint your weapons with a variety of colors (and a few other treats as well, I’m sure).

In an age where the game trade in business cleans up and publishers are trying to get people to hang onto their games, player investment in multiplayer has become a predictable addition to any big budget title. While Battlefield 2 was the first game I can think of that pioneered this (and I’m holding to that), Call of Duty 4 brought this out in a huge way. Even Halo has had a bit of that with the different armor pieces in Halo 3, and went whole hog with it in Reach.

As nice as it is to bring your personality and tastes into your gaming and show everyone how creative, or immature, you can be, I ultimately lose interest in unlocking every little doodad and tchotchke sooner than later. Unless you have a lot of free time, leveling up in online games takes damn near forever, and very few titles have gotten the balance between progression and unlocking rewards exactly right.

For my money, Call of Duty: Black Ops has had the best implementation, but that’s because they made leveling up much easier and removed some of the unnecessary padding that Modern Warfare 2 had in regards to procuring attachments for your weapons.

While I can’t fathom the amount of time it takes to get some of the crazy rewards I’ve seen online, there’s obviously enough people out there doing it to justify this sort of thing in every damn game I play. What do you guys think? Is there too much of this going on? What’s the most time you’ve put into getting something?

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

6 thoughts on “Player Investment in Multiplayer: A Necessary Evil?”

  1. trying to gain enough money to buy something better than a pistol in Counter Strike when I am on a loosing streak. but that’s about as far as I go.

  2. Wait, why is player investment bad? How is it ever a problem? I guess if the investment makes the game inherently unequal, then it can turn out to be disastrous if it’s not handled well, but I think that multiplayer games with even just cosmetic player investment are just more satisfying than non-investing games.

  3. [quote comment=”16151″]Wait, why is player investment bad? How is it ever a problem? I guess if the investment makes the game inherently unequal, then it can turn out to be disastrous if it’s not handled well, but I think that multiplayer games with even just cosmetic player investment are just more satisfying than non-investing games.[/quote]

    Agreed…what exactly is the issue? If developers are sacrificing the overall quality of the game to bring you different colored guns, I could see why this would be a problem. But it just seems like there’s a little extra for people willing to go the extra mile. For those not willing, don’t.

    Are these “doodads and tchotchkes” making play uneven? Do they provide more powerful weapons, or just different looking weapons?

  4. It was more a comment on the time involved versus the actual usefulness of what you get, and the proliferation of this trend as a whole. If it’s not a big deal, then whatevs, I guess.

  5. I really prefer it when player customization is fully unlocked at the beginning of the game. When you have some sort of armor that is only unlocked only at certain stages of your levelling process, it becomes a pretty common trait that what armor somebody’s wearing is a sign of how good they are at a game, instead of what they prefer to look like. Also it creates the attitude that whatever stuff you have at the start is rubbish, and you’re always looking forward to the level to get the new stuff and you’re immediately sick of everything that preceded it. And then, given enough time, you have entire servers filled with people wearing nothing but the most difficult to obtain equipment (and if there’s the ability to pick a custom color, it’s almost always black because black is the color being elite to most hardcore gamers, apparently). The problem here is pretty much that you’re not unlocking personalized parts of your player anymore, you’re obtaining trophies that you wear on your virtual avatar.

    As for the type of stuff that you buy, I would never pay for wearable content on a character in a game ever. I’m pretty stiff on DLC as it is, and will really only buy DLC if it adds a lot to a game and is $5 or less. A few new wearable doodads aren’t really enough for me to give even 50 cents. I’m just kinda stingy about that though, so meh.

  6. I’m all for cosmetic and class customization. For cosmetic its fun to customize your logos/avatars/gun cammo in multilayer games, letting you make that logo/avatar/gun cammmo your own or if your in a clan a sense of uniform and belonging, some people have done so in very artistic and creative ways. And if developers want you to earn some of those I got no problem with it ie MW2 you kill a bunch of people with a knife you get the samurai tag, But there is no points extra xp or any advantage given to you for doing this it just reflex your play style.
    On the other hand Class customization really allows you to let out your inner soldier and carter to your play style. MW2 really messed up this part by forcing you to use a gun then an attachment to get another attachment. A game that got that right was HOME FRONT you unlock attachments by using the gun and getting kills with it that’s it no use this red dot attachment and get 25 kills to unlock a scope sight.

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