Where Have All the Split-Screen Games Gone?

Split-screen games are rapidly becoming a relic of a bygone age. What happened to our favorite co-op gaming method?

Remember the days of racing home from school to play Donkey Kong on the Super Nintendo with your best friend in your basement? You didn't need two consoles. You didn't need two TV's. And you certainly didn't need to set up some complicated LAN system to play the game. What happened to this simplistic and accessible style of gaming? One word explains everything: Internet.

You didn't need two consoles. You didn't need two TV's. And you certainly didn't need to set up some complicated LAN system to play the game.

In this vast world of instant connectivity, it is easy to forget the convenience of split-screen games since we have traded tangible friends for those of the social media variety. Recently, I realized that the split-screen gaming option has become more of a distant memory than ever before. I moved to a very rural area that did not have any options for internet and learned very quickly that my game choices were extremely limited. I updated my PS4 for the last time using a WiFi connection at work and realized that half the games I owned, I couldn't play any longer! Also, I did not want to drop $60 on a new game that had its best features explored through the multiplayer forum. Destiny, Call of Duty, and many more of my favorite games suddenly become obsolete in my new reality. 

As I adjusted to this "analog" world, my boyfriend and I found ourselves missing out on one of our favorite hobbies. We had to take turns?!?! Who does that? So began our hunt for games that were split-screen friendly. 

Needless to say, there aren't many new couch co-op games being released to capitalize on the features of the current generation of pricey consoles. There are plenty of older split-screen options, but definitely not enough variety to keep a couple of game-obsessed DINK's (double-income, no kids) occupied for very long. 

We did stumble across a few great classics. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection has certainly done a great job of keeping us entertained as we can each participate in the game simultaneously. We can count on at least 6 hours of split-screen gameplay from the perpetual Call of Duty franchise; or at least however long we can replay the zombies feature before I start blaming him for our constant failure. Thank god that Redbox does game rentals now! But we are still lacking an option that provides a high level of graphics and gameplay experience equal to the single player options currently available. 

As we continue to see the world of video games evolve and transform, I petition developers to reconsider the world of couch co-op play. Only half of the world has internet access, so only developing internet-reliant multiplayer experiences quite literally excludes billions of people from playing your game. Revolutionizing this gameplay experience could be very lucrative for the right developer; as displayed by the success of games such as Borderlands!

What do you think about the disappearance of split-screen gaming? Will you miss it or is it unimportant? Let us know in the comments below!

Published Dec. 16th 2016

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