What the heck, industry? Why don't you do splitscreen anymore?

Where Did All the Split-screen Go?

What the heck, industry? Why don't you do splitscreen anymore?

Why, games industry? Why do you take away the things I love? Why do you like making stupid decisions?

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Why does Halo 5 not have split screen!?

In 343 Industry’s latest attempt to ruin the Halo franchise, they have announced that Halo 5 will no longer support local co-op. You know, one of the signature features of the series since Halo 1. One that friends, siblings, and other family have enjoyed for nearly 15 years. That includes me and my siblings/friends.

Oh, and for online co-op, you need to have an Xbox Gold account.

So 343 has decided to not only deliver a swift kick to my childhood’s tiny, sensitive balls, but also to charge me $60 for it.

Yeah, I played Halo split screen. A lot of it too, ever since I was in middle school. Some of my fondest memories were on the couch with my friends, with a bowl of popcorn and a small tower of juice boxes on the coffee table, going on Warthog rampages through Rat’s Nest or whacking Choppers across Sandtrap with a Gravity Hammer.

And now, without need or good reason, they’ve taken it away.

Axing local split screen is a growing, infuriating trend.

Remember Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment’s giant robot shooter that people were momentarily excited about?

How about Destiny, Bungie’s equally disappointing Borderlands ripoff? No split screen there either.

Surely the new Star Wars Battlefront would have some local co-op? Of course it does! But only if you want to play offline against some bots.

Sometimes I wonder why they even bother to put in multiple controller ports anymore.

If you look at the piles and piles of comments that go with these stories, the consumer consensus is obvious: everybody wants split screen. It’s how we play with our brothers and sisters, our spouses, our kids, our house guests. It’s how a lot of us had great times as kids. So why are so many developers unwilling to give us what we want?

1. They think they know better than their consumers

Bungie at least had a reason they left split screen out of Destiny. It was a stupid reason, but at least they tried to explain themselves: they wanted the players to be “untethered”, to be able to go where they pleased even in a fire team.

Ok, for starters, how does having two viewpoints on the same screen limit player movement? How does that change anything? 

Also, isn’t the point of going on missions with friends, split screen or otherwise, sticking together in the same general area and completing objectives through a team effort?

But no, Bungie thought that split screen would interfere with their vision of how players should play. Which it totally doesn’t. But I guess they didn’t even buy their own lame excuse, because they just shrugged at the end of the interview by saying they “you can’t build a game to suit every single player out there”.

Silly Bungie. All the players with taste in loot-drop shooters are still playing Borderlands. Gearbox built a game that suits those players just fine. And it has split screen.

Pictured here: what Destiny could have easily done but didn’t

2. They’re incompetent and they don’t know their own fan base.

So far 343i hasn’t even bothered to give a reason why they have no split screen. But the prevailing theory is that they were afraid that multiple screens would cause the game to drop below 60 FPS.

Wow. Way to have your priorities straight, guys.

But hey, I can understand their concern. After they released the Master Chief Collection with broken multiplayer, I guess they didn’t want to risk upsetting their customers further by letting the game drop below that golden 60 frames. Because that’s what Halo fans care about.

Quick challenge for you 343i: Google search “Halo 5 no split screen” and see how well you’re doing.

3. They’ve gotten greedy.

There are two main options when it comes to multiplayer:

  1. You buy a system, a few controllers, the game, and a nice TV if you don’t already have one. You invite a friend to play it on your couch with a pizza and a few cold ones. You have a fabulous time.
  2. You buy a system, a controller, the game, and a nice tv if you don’t already have one. You spend a few hours setting up an online account and buying that too. You hope your friends have also bought their own system, controller, game, and account. If not, you try to convince them to. If they do decide to buy it, you must both also buy headsets to communicate with each other. After all that extra time and expense, you will hopefully still have a good time.

If you’re a developer/publisher that loves money and hates gamers, you know what option you would prefer.

That unholy trinity of accounts, DLC, and preorders that everyone hates but everyone seems to buy anyway is all set up to drain us of as much money as possible. Why let us play together on one console when they can force us to buy lots of them? Whatever they say about frame rates and artistic vision and all that nonsense, this is the most logical reason why the days of split screen is going down the crapper. They just want to take your money and run.

So bring back split screen, dammit!

We all love it. We all ask for it. If you don’t include it, it makes you look bad.

We have multiple control ports, more advanced sound systems, and bigger, higher-definition TVs than ever. It’s a time-honored staple of social and family gatherings. If developers are willing throw away entire single-player campaigns to focus on the multiplayer experience, then you should be able to sacrifice a few frames per second to let people play together the way they want to. So put. In. Split. Screen!

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Matt Amenda
Still loves cartoons. And video games. And comics. And occasionally writes lengthy diatribes about them on the internet. Hope to get paid for it someday.