Multiplayer is a huge design space that covers a variety of real-time multiplayer and asynchronous multiplayer styles. The primary multiplayer models are:
Multiplayer doesn’t always mean massive, coordinated activities on the scale of games such as Epic Game’s Fortnite. Some games are better suited to the Play Alone Together model, which could be configured to allow players to communicate amongst themselves and learn from sharing information and observing each other’s actions without explicitly depending on one another to complete tasks or achieve goals.
The Play Alone Together style of multiplayer gameplay is ideal for fostering an environment of game enrichment via social interactions without dependency.
The more social structure of multiplayer games creates environments ripe for the maximization of IAPs and revenue. In cooperative settings, players are driven to purchase IAPs to better aid their teammates so the group can achieve their collective goals, while competitive multiplayer environments encourage players to invest in IAPs that give them an edge over the competition.
Engagement, attention, and retention are critical for creating a successful game that keeps players coming back for more. The attention phase is the most easily monetized, and a simple way to increase revenues is via social events. Social events are a highly effective way to draw player attention to your games, setting the stage for retention.
Including multiplayer is one of the best ways developers can gain and maintain player attention.
While the trend towards events and complex economies1 emerged before COVID-19, the pandemic has come to both define these dynamics and rapidly accelerate their mainstream adoption.
This accelerated demand and adoption is driven by humanity’s basic social need to connect with others, prompting players to seek out social outlets currently lacking in their lives. Games, in particular those that offer multiplayer and live events, have, for many individuals, filled the social niche previously occupied by in-person activities.
We predict that these trends will continue post-vaccination when in-person socialization is once again safe, but this warp-speed acceleration will likely slow at least a little bit. However, by developing games that promote online sociability now, developers can help players develop habits of enjoyment that will persist once COVID-19 has subsided.
By laying the groundwork now when many players are stuck at home, developers can best capitalize on highly monetizable structured events, making these activities a permanent part of gamers’ social lives.
Events are an excellent way to create a social environment, thereby driving both attention and IAPs. While some developers may seek to create complex multiplayer dynamics, adding multiplayer can be as simple as getting players to participate in activities simultaneously.
This sociability can take a few forms, including:
Events may involve reward structures or progression mechanics (complete a task or set of tasks to earn rewards) but do not have to. You may choose to forgo a competitive style of play in favor of a more cooperative model, where players must help one another to achieve their goals or structure your gameplay as individual challenges.
Depending on the nature of your event, you may consider enabling individual play and direct competition simultaneously.
As game development experts, the most common mistakes we have observed developers making while implementing multiplayer are:
By choosing to build your game with Beamable instead of developing multiplayer and social from scratch, you can avoid having to overoptimize your game’s monetization features to recoup your costs and instead focus on boosting player engagement, attention, and retention.
To begin adding multiplayer to your game, download Beamable for Unity today.