Remembering: Multiplayer Wars

Back in late ’90’s, the sucess of multiplayer in games started to be noticed.  Before this multiplayer wasn’t really considered important enough to form the basis for an ENTIRE game, most games had limited multiplayer service, or none at all.

Two of the big companies however, Id software and Epic games, both having successful frachises, noticed that in their Quake and Unreal games, respectively, there was actually quite a large following of the Online Multiplayer functions. Like any good company they decided to expand on sucessful ideas.

At the end of 1999 Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament came out, three days between release in fact. These games were both new in that the Multiplayer was the primary function of the game, and the singleplayer only existed in the form of locally hosted matchs filled with AI opponents. This was a big step for both the companies, and gaming as a whole, and it paid off. Both games became widely sucessful, and kicked off the idea of Multiplayer only games.

After a little while (I’d give it a week) there was pretty intense argument over which game was better. UT looked better and had some interesting features, but Quake 3 had more freedom of movement.

It was rather akin to the fabled ‘Browser Wars’ in that both did what they should do and did it well, but there were minor differences that made people use one over the other, and was closely followed by the mud-slinging because the other game was terrible.

In the end Quake won, becoming the staple competitive game choice for almost a decade. People STILL compete in professional ladders and tournaments, after TEN YEARS. They haven’t started using Quake 4, they stayed with the old relic that ran on my school’s computers that didn’t have anything but a motherboard.

Not to say UT really lost much however, it’s still a largely successful game franchise, unless you count UT3 which they gracefully bollocksed up, then unbollocksed somehow. UT still has a fair amount of active game servers, so does ut2004. In reality they probably made more money that Id because they released more that one game every 5 years.

So it was rather a win-win situation, both companies made an atrocious amount of money and will do so in the years to come. It’s an interesting phenomenon that people are willing to make large arguements over very small differences. It happened with multiplayer games, it happened with browsers, it’s happening now with game consoles, graphics cards, operating systems, the list goes on. Why do these people argue about trivial little things and take time out of their valuable fragging time? Who knows.

Also; I hate Macs.


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