Gang Beasts is Great But it Needs Some Damn Online Multiplayer
Boneloaf's Steam Early Access title Gang Beasts is a great multiplayer game that is tremendous amounts of fun. The problem is that right now, it only has local multiplayer. And having no online multiplayer in 2016 is a ludicrous idea that will ultimately only hurt the game more than it helps.
What in Davey Jones' Locker is Gang Beasts?
Gang Beasts is an over-the-top, silly local multiplayer party game brawler where players take on the role of surly gelatinous characters. The idea is for the players to defeat their opponents by beating the crap out of them, throwing them off structures like scaffolding or Ferris wheels and into trains or numerous other hazards.
While it is absolutely absurd fun, it currently only supports local multiplayer through a LAN connection. Which means that even though Gang Beasts is a truly great game, it is seriously suffering because it has no online functionality.
A game not having online multiplayer in 2016 is like Chuck Norris without his beard.
Could you ever imagine Chuck Norris not having a beard? No? Well, the same can be said for a multiplayer game in 2016 not having any online multiplayer functionality. It just doesn't work. Every single game out there in this day and age that features multiplayer has online functionality.
The only platforms you would use an actual LAN connection with these days are handheld devices. But even they are very quickly moving closer each year to their multiplayer features having full online functionality. And while you could argue that the game is in Early Access and could add the feature later on...quite frankly, that would do about as much good as howling at the moon.
If a game's main feature and selling point are that it is a multiplayer game, it should have online functionality from the day it enters Early Access. Not having it would be like Game of Thrones not having blood, guts, violence and adult themes. It just doesn't work. If anything, it would make the overall appeal sink faster than the Titanic.
The lack of online multiplayer results in losing a large percentage of potential players.
Only a very small number of gamers today actually still have LAN parties. The only appeal of having one would be for the nostalgia and experience of the good old days -- where friends set up multiple computers in a garage, eat pizza, drink beer, and spend half the day troubleshooting in an attempt to get everything to work.
Sure, it was a fun time in a primitive age of gaming -- but in comparison to the far more efficient and global method using the internet, its appeal is small. Why move your computer to another house to set up LAN when you can stay at home playing games in your underpants over the internet? Most people in this modern age of gaming would choose to play online over the frustration that can be LAN. I should know...I've been there.
Gang Beasts not having this functionality from the beginning does not bode well for its continued success once it releases. When it comes to indie games and Early Access, you generally only get two periods in development to make an impression.
The first is when the game initially enters Early Access, the second is when it fully releases. And burning through that first opportunity without a functioning online aspect could easily doom the game -- turning it from what may have been the next big party game to yet another relatively unknown indie title that's buried with all the other EA has-beens. Yes, the developers currently have online functionally in an unstable beta state in the game. But it's too little too late. The game has already suffered due to losing out on one of the two most crucial periods in sales for Early Access titles.
Sure, there is always the possibly of the game gaining interest with the release of the online multiplayer, but they will have to push and promote it very hard -- rather than simply being able to ride off the initial hype of a cool new party game hitting Steam. Gang Beasts initially released in Early Access back in 2014 and with so many games releasing on a daily basis, it will have to make a major impact to stay relevant until it sees a full release. And it seems like the only way to do that would have been online multiplayer.
A great game with great potential
I will always give a game credit where it is due. It is a wonderful title that has a lot of fun on offer. But the lack of online functionality for a game that's main selling point is multiplayer is a big mistake -- especially after two years. Having that from the start could have been the difference between the game doing just alright and becoming an absolute hit.
I admire that the developers were trying to create a game from the days of yore, but doing so while ignoring what is expected in this day and age is perhaps a bit reckless.
I can only hope that the online functionality currently in the works will improve things. I would love to be able to share this game with my online friends. Let's hope that it isn't too late and the game doesn't end up being lost in the bottomless pit of forgotten indies. It really is a lot of fun, and it deserves better.