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I am making a small game that has four players. It can be played with 1 or 2 players locally, with the remaining players controlled by AI.

I am considering online play, but it is an area I know very little about, so it will take a lot of study and work to put it in. I am using my own engine, so I would have to implement it myself, or at least search around for a free library, learn its API, and probably rearrange several of my data structures and methods to make it work. Then I would have to implement lobby screens and possibly backend stuff (I have a little php experience but not a lot).

My question is, is it really worth it? Of course it would be nice to have, but do players expect it these days? I imagine people expect it for big budget games, but how about small indie games?

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Online multiplayer is becoming an increasingly important factor in my decision to purchase games. While that may just be me, it appears that people overall like to play games with other people. Social media games are a good indicator of this, though, I don't really consider those multiplayer for the most part. They do indicate that people like being able to at least partially, share their gaming experience with each other.

When I'm looking for a new game, I'm interested in it being online multiplayer so I can play with my friends. I don't have friends over for LAN parties so much these days, so this is the best way I can connect with them. As the age of the average gamer increases (The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 35 years old.), the likelihood of having friends over all the time (like we did back in our school days) decreases (or maybe that's just me again?). Online multiplayer allows us to stay connected. I'm all for sitting down and playing a single player game, but it's even better when I can invite a friend to play too.

It's not as if people won't buy your game because it has an online multiplayer option. If they're looking for the type of game you're making, and they're interested in your game, the multiplayer over the internet is not going to dissuade them.

Additionally, multiplayer over the internet means increased sales for you. Now instead of two people playing one copy of the game, you have two people playing two copies of the game together.

All in all, I think adding online multiplayer to a game is more likely to increase sales than adding any other single feature. With it's ability to double your sales for people buying together, and the option of adding bundle deals for multiple copies.

But is it worth it? That's up to you to decide. Perhaps for now you can keep online multiplayer in mind, and design as if it's there, but save it for later.

An article related to this topic: The Importance of Multiplayer Gaming

And the importance of local multiplayer too!: The importance of split-screen, co-op and basically all offline multiplayer games

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    \$\begingroup\$ "As age ... increases, ... friends ... decreases" - I believe this is relevant: blog.stephenwolfram.com/2013/04/… \$\endgroup\$ – congusbongus Jul 11 '13 at 1:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks very much for your response. Good to think about. Our current plan is to release with local multiplayer and see. Then, depending on the sales and feedback, decide whether to put the effort into online pay for this game, or just move on to the next game. Having said that, I plan to keep networking in mind when making the new game's structure, even if I don't use it. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – DaleyPaley Jul 12 '13 at 1:31
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It's always a question of which niche you want to target. Every niche has different needs.

Since your game is multiplayer already it would make sense to add a online option. There are a lot of people who want to play games together but don't have the time or money to meet regularly in real life. By having a multiplayer only game you have to be local for you are limiting yourself to a reeaaly small niche, probably too small to make a decent amount of money with.

Well... unless you are going for a true "social" experience... e.g. a party game. That is a completely different niche already, where the people have little use for a online mode.

For a single player game it would just be a waste of time, people will pay for it because it gives a good single player experience, not because it has a tacked on multiplayer part.

Don't waste your time with implementing a feature just because it would be "cool to have", it should be a vital component of your game. People won't buy your game just because it has feature X, but because it delivers a good experience.

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Definitely Multiplayer games have large audience that's why several games with Multiplayer support keeps on releasing. In fact multiplayer games can keep players engaged to your game.

Multiplayer becomes more fun, when they are played over internet, because they can give a player more number of opponents and different level of competitions. And leaderboards can even more enhance game experience.

You don't need to write server side code and maintain servers. There are several Backend As A Service(BaaS) Cloud Providers, where you can implement multiplayer games without writing code for server. Simply register on them, and call their APIs through their SDKs on client. They make development of multiplayer very easy.

These Backend As A Services are perfect for Indie game developers as you don't have to buy or maintain server. These providers even have free plans.

If you are interested in Multiplayer gaming, then you should definitely checkout these services.

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