What has 2 player split screen mode been removed from most modern games?
August 17, 2017 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Back in the day most games used to have a 2 player split screen mode. Playing IRL with friends was one of my fondest childhood memories. However, these days finding a split screen mode on a game is super rare. Why?
posted by jenjen23 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Split screen doesn't easily work with every type of game, and it seems like the types of games it does lend itself to (platformers, racing, etc) seem to be somewhat less popular at the moment. I hear you, though, since I love playing couch co-op games with my son. There ARE some good ones out there, though.

Split Screen games suggestions:
- All the Lego games (ie. Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter, etc)
- Portal 2
- Minecraft (esp. the mini games)
- Racing games like Gran Turismo
- Most of the Mario games
- Yoshi's Wooly World
- Rayman Legends
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 3:30 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Splitscreen multiplayer requires the computer/console to render the game twice (or more for more than 2 players) so potentially requiring twice the computational resources. If they've already stretched the hardware to its graphical limits it's hard to do this. Sometimes they can get around this by reducing graphical quality (eg I think Mario Kart on the Switch reduces graphics quality when running splitscreen when undocked), but it's a trade off that isn't always worth it - some games people will definitely want to play splitscreen - like Mario Kart - but others there's little demand for it since online gaming is significantly more popular.
If you like local multiplayer there are still a lot of good games available, but they tend to be the lower-budget "indie" games like Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, Towerfall, or Nidhogg.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:33 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

A lot of it is.........the INTERNET.

The kids these days are more apt to play multiplayer (note that distinction, as well....not just 2 players but hundreds) with people that they are physically separated from, even if they live a few blocks away.

The "internet" allows us to play multiplayer, so everyone does.
posted by kuanes at 4:06 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is split screen. I believe the first version of the game was also. Forza 4 has a split screen mode so maybe all the Forza games do.

Before the Internet, split screen was the only way to get multi-player. Though I remember early Xboxes could be linked together with a cable if I remember correctly. Obviously that required having more than one console.
posted by LoveHam at 4:16 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Former game developer here.

Making a game split screen is really annoying. Of course split-screen means that you have to render everything twice, which requires more resources and also may necessitate a rethinking of a bunch of architectural assumptions (e.g., the amount of the world that might be interacted with or rendered may be doubled, and those areas need not be near each other). Less obviously, it's also a big tax on every piece of full-screen game design. Every visual component you put in (including things like the HUD) has to look good on half a screen with a different aspect ratio. Every interaction you have with the game has to make sense with a split screen.

It's not quite the same thing, but I'm reminded of developing Guitar Hero and Rock Band, where many proposed features died on the floor because we couldn't figure out how to make them work in head-to-head competitive mode. (Eventually we removed that mode.)

Of course it's possible - games have done it in the past, and many still do - but as commenters above have pointed out, more and more, if you want to play multiplayer, you play online. And if you already have full-screen multiplayer (which of course is even harder to implement, but you had to have it to sell the game, so you put it in), why kill yourself to put in local split-screen when only a small fraction of your audience will notice?
posted by dfan at 4:48 AM on August 17, 2017 [17 favorites]

I would like to add Rocket League to the list of split-screen suggestions above.
posted by robertc at 5:16 AM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not really answering your question, but co-optimus has a search which you can filter by split screen. My sense is at least in the indie scene it's gotten more common in recent years again.
posted by ropeladder at 6:21 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Though I remember early Xboxes could be linked together with a cable if I remember correctly. Obviously that required having more than one console.
The original PlayStation (original, original as the PSOne did not work with it, IIRC) first had the link cable, that allowed the same.

There was a clever attempt by Sony to use 3D TVs as full-screen split-screens - when they launched their PlayStation branded 3D TV, they had two pairs of glasses called SimulView, only instead of one right and one left lens, each one had matching lenses, so while the image looked a mess for anyone watching it without glasses, with those matching glasses each player would see their own full-screen game on the same tv. The idea was very smart, however, that idea died along 3D TVs, and since they were so expensive, no more than a handful of games natively support it (replicating the technology is pretty straightforward, however).
posted by lmfsilva at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2017

Now that most games are played on Internet-connected devices, developers are able to gather huge amounts of information about the way that they're played - here's an example from a few years back of how much Bioware knew about the way people played Mass Effect 2. If developers aren't adding split-screen anymore, it's probably because they know their customers aren't actually using it enough to justify the significant costs and trade-offs involved.

The original PlayStation (original, original as the PSOne did not work with it, IIRC) first had the link cable, that allowed the same.

This goes back way further than that! The C64 had games that could be played on two computers linked by RS232 cables, and there are no doubt even earlier examples.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:25 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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