Almost by definition, multiplayer gaming is competitive. Sure, there have always been co-op modes allowing friends (or, these days, total strangers) to team up to accomplish objectives. But the real bread and butter of multiplayer has been competition. Just look at the newly revealed Nintendo Switch, which goes so far as to facilitate local multiplayer on a single mobile device in an attempt to capture some of that old family-and-friends Mario Kart-style magic.
In other words, it’s all about proving that you’re able to beat someone else at the same game, and then doing it all over again in a constant battle for supremacy and bragging rights. Or at least that’s what it used to be all about. Increasingly, multiplayer gaming has become something much more serious. It’s still a competitive struggle, but one in which both achievements and real money can be on the line.
Take for instance, the Clan Wars game mode in Clash Of Clans, one of the most popular mobile games in existence. Clan Wars effectively pits you against other players with one day for preparation and another for launching attacks. At the end of it, all the winning clan gets stars and “bonus loot” for leveling up. It’s not particularly complex, but it subtly changes competition from something about bragging rights or personal satisfaction to something about tangible advancement. The winner gets a leg up in the game, and the loser must wait to acquire similarly impactful “loot” (or else pay for it with real money via in-app purchases).
For a more overt example of higher stakes competition in gaming, we might also look to a genre in which real money is frequently involved: online casinos. Most are fully aware of the high level of activity in poker and blackjack in regions where online gaming is legal, but what you may not know is that similar competitive formats have been rolled out for all kinds of other casino games. This platform’s breakdown of bingo gaming clearly shows that even bingo, a game some of us think of primarily in relation to retirement homes and cruise ships, has become a popular activity among competitive online players. Gamers engage in live competitions with real money on the line, and in some instances can even chat while the drawings are being made. And in the end, there’s a winner with real money to show for it making it one form of online competition that’s growing in popularity.
These are just a few of the countless examples that speak to the increasingly competitive nature of multiplayer gaming. This is what has been captured, fairly effectively, by Titanfall 2. As explained in one review of the multiplayer mode, this new installment in the expanding series offers a 6v6 mode where you gain money whenever you happen to take down an opponent or complete an objective. This isn’t entirely new among shooters. It’s common for success in multiplayer to lead to experience points that in turn can unlock new items but to explicitly refer to it as “money” is a bit different.
Ultimately, this is a game built for its multiplayer, and most people will focus on the actual gameplay and scenario options rather than the money mode. But in a way, Titanfall 2 is a strong representation of where competitive gaming seems to be heading. The stakes are going up across the board.
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