Legendary Couch CO-OP

Everyone remembers the golden days of CO-OP in video games. When you would stay up into the wee hours of the morning with your pals (or in my case my cousin PJ) to conquer any number of challenges in some of our favorite video games. We would stock up on pizza rolls and soda ready to finish the Halo 3 campaign on legendary or get to one extra wave in the Gears 3 horde mode. It was grueling and required you and your team to have excellent coordination. But why was it so fun? And why have companies moved away from a feature so integral to the culture just a console generation ago?

Hope everyone has spare aluminum. Because we’re putting on our spin foil hats for a moment. 

By the end of the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation, game companies slowly phased out CO-OP. This made paying for the online subscription necessary for social play with your friends. This was especially a shock to PlayStation users as going from PS3 to PS4 they had to start paying for online play. You may be wondering how much of a  revenue source is online access? Well if we take  VG24/7’s article, which will be linked below, and take the 91 million PS units sold and say 75% or 68 million users pay yearly, it comes to over 4 billion dollars for Playstation alone. Xbox is in the 3 billion and change range. That is a huge portion of income that Sony left on the table for the whole generation. What is the incentive to buy online when you can just head over to your friend’s house and play? For one, convenience. It is much easier to walk 20 feet across the house to your console than 10 blocks or 20 miles across town. Going straight into the action is the goal. This is especially true for those who live busy lifestyles and game in short bursts of time. Another is cost. When buying the yearly package, both subscriptions come out to be 5 dollars a month. For children, it’s maybe a weeks’ worth of chores. For parents to get some free time away from them, absolutely priceless. Possibly CO-OP was cut because online became popular or CO-OP was cut to force people into the subscription model. Like the number of licks needed to reach the center of the Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. What I do know is that playing next to a loved one was great.

Dead and Buried or on the Upswing?

As much as it pains me to come to this conclusion, couch CO-OP is not in the midst of a revival. Although some games still do include couch co-op such as Borderlands 3, much effort is not put in. Games are more focused on doing 100 things at once to keep the gamer coming back than committing to a few and doing them their due diligence. As Poet Robert Frost famously stated, “nothing gold can stay”. I hope everyone who played during the golden days of CO-OP savored it like I did. 

Tell me about your favorite couch CO-OP moments in the comments below.