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Local multiplayer gaming on iOS

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12-06-2012, 04:22 AM
#1
Local multiplayer gaming on iOS

Remember the days when players used to get together and bring their PCs to hook up a network game? Yes, this still happens, but it has largely been taken over by online gaming. Instead of all the hassle of getting local networks to work and getting all the equipment together, it is so much easier to hook up with your friends over the internet. No need to worry about everyone being present, you can meet up when they are online.

Still, something has been lost in this process. You can’t share a drink with your team mates afterwards, and everyone sitting behind their individual gaming console, in separate places, makes the whole experience distinctively less ‘social’.

The latest developments in gaming platforms point to a (partial) return of local multiplayer gaming. With a Xbox Kinekt, Playstation Move or Wii U there are a few interesting games that allow for groups of players to play with or against each other, all together in front of the television.

However, this has usually been limited to having two players active simultaneously. There is not enough space in front of the television to read the movements of more players in case of the Xbox Kinekt, and the other platforms would require each person to have their own controller. This likely reduces the market too much for developers to consider developing games for it.

However, iOS devices have become serious gaming platforms, overtaking the traditional consoles in some cases. Through Bluetooth, they can communicate with each other without the need for an internet connection, and people carry them with them anyhow. Setting up a ‘Mobile Local Multiplayer Gaming’ session would be possible this way, as long as the games are there to make use of the presence of all these iOS devices.

Developers are now starting to wake up to this possibility and are bringing out games that allow players to join in with their own devices. It has been possible for some time to play classics like Monopoly on iOS with multiple players (http://www.ea.com/monopoly-iphone). An even more interesting implementation is brought by ‘Sparkling Poker’ (www.sparklingpoker.com), which allows up to 5 players to connect with their devices, while the game table can be presented on an iPad or even the television. In fact, Apple’s airplay functionality (http://www.apple.com/airplay/) takes mobile gaming very much into the living room.

What do you think? Is the local multiplayer scene due for a revival, with the help from iOS? Will hardware and software developers take this up or is online gaming going to ‘rule them all’?

Sparkling Apps - Mobile and Social Application Development