Creating a multiplayer game is challenging. As an indie game developer you need all the tricks in the book in order to pull it off. Is it worth it?
There are a lot of games trying to be the next Fortnite, CoD, and anything in between multiplayer shooter to battle royale.
And with stories of indie games that achieved success, such as Among Us ඞ or Valheim, it’s easy to see why many would want to replicate them and make the next big thing.
How hard can it be?
You can be easily deceived by a game engine’s Asset Store – it might seem that it provides everything out of the box. There are a lot of packages that promise one-click fixes. In reality, they need a lot of tweaking and additional work. That is if they are still maintained / or work with the current version of the engine.
No matter how many plugins, packages or help from the engine, there is no doubt a lot of additional work that is needed.
Market saturation. You probably heard the term in a lot of different contexts: “youtube is saturated“, “steam is saturated“, etc. This happens in the context of way too many released games, videos, or whatever that market has.
More new games on steam are added every single year and the trend seems to be ascending (not taking into account the global situation that happened in 2020-2021).
But not only content competes for players. Multiplayer games compete for a single resource that is unique to individuals, unlike money. I’m talking about time. Every one of us has 24/7 with a lot of other responsibilities such as job, family errands and more.
Competing on time is a zero-sum game that makes it possible for a few to win
Multiplayer games compete on player’s time. This is why only a couple of them can succeed. Usually, the ones that have the player’s friends already inside or the player has invested money in loot boxes and other perks that will be too hard to move from that sunken cost.
Even if everything goes as planned, your multiplayer game will sooner or later face another problem: cheaters.
They kill other player’s experience and don’t seem to be stopped. A lot of big games have this recurring problem over and over again.
There is no bulletproof fix to protect your game from cheaters, just ways to delay it. But, of course, each one will take away precious time from developing the game and creating content for it.
What if you enjoy only multiplayer games?
In this case, there is no way around it. Making a game requires passion and you cannot be passionate about something you don’t enjoy.
You need to set your goals from the beginning, otherwise you might have the risk of getting disappointed.
- Find a niche: First Person Shooter / Battle Royale is saturated. But that’s not the only market out there. Find a smaller one that is not yet saturated and check if there is a hungry audience.
- Other multiplayer types: there are multiplayer modes that are easier to implement (or maintain) than online realtime. For example local split screen or Turn-Based (this one can also be online).
- Go small: don’t aim for big games. Keep the main game fun, make sure players have a nice time in the game and release it.
What to do, then?
There are many ways to make games. All games – regardless being singleplayer or multiplayer – can benefit by a solid AI (Artificial Intelligence). Nobody likes to play a multiplayer game with an empty world. Add some AI NPCs that make it fun while the players wait for others.
Nobody likes to play a multiplayer game with an empty world
I’m hosting a free webinar about Game AI which you can check here.
Warning: only click the link if you want to make your game stand out of the crowd.
All the best,