Why don't Computer Game companies respect multiplayer?
I've been listening to you guys for a while and you've danced around this topic some, but Bruce fleshed it out more significantly in this episode. He was talking about his increasing desire to play board games (specifically board war games) because of an interactive human opponent. I also play board war games as well as strategy computer games and can report that I play a lot more board war games for exact that reason. With computer strategy games, you play the game for while against the AI, mostly to learn the mechanics and how to play the game well, but relatively quickly you are defeating the AI routinely and the game loses replay value.
BUT! If the game supports an robust multiplayer experience then the game experience continues to expand and grow as you extend your capabilities against other human opponents. The best example of this so far is the Twilight Struggle boardgame port that was produced by Playdek. Bruce highlighted this when he mentioned playing around 200 games with various people through the UI of the game. It's an easy bet that he didn't play nearly that many games against the AI.
I have been especially frustrated with the Civilization franchise. I've played all the Civs over the years and by far the best multiplayer experience of all them was Civ IV. Soren Johnson clearly gets "it" and to me it seemed like that when he was writing the game he never forgot to make sure that the multiplayer would work and work well. Also his Offworld Trading company game is a fantastic Multiplayer experience.
However, Civ V is the complete opposite of this. It was clearly not designed with multiplayer in mind and the initial release played horribly in multiplayer. Even now, years later, the game doesn't really work that well in Multiplayer. Furthermore, it is disappointing to see the lack of discussion regarding Civ VI multiplayer in previews. The only thing I've read is that they are releasing a new "session" mode for Multiplayer that will allow a scenario-type playthrough that will take a couple of hours (as opposed to a full game which does take longer). No discussion on making multiplayer work more reliably or robust (especially when saving). The lack of information on Multiplayer capabilities will guarantee that I won't be purchasing the game until next year (or more), mainly because I got so burned by the Civ V multiplayer experience.
Overall, Civ is perhaps the clearest example, but the trend across computer games seems to be a reduction of multiplayer capabilities or lack of priority for development time for multiplayer UI or game modes. And the question that burns here is: Why is this?? It seems like solid multiplayer experiences in computer games are a top ask by the strategy gaming community and yet it is treated with indifference by computer game developers. You guys are much closer to the computer game industry than I am, what are your thoughts regarding this?
I should note that I've had very positive experiences with Amplitude Studio's Endless Space and Legend games (especially Space). But again, they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Thanks for your time.