Guest Writer: The Decline of Split Screen

It would seem that OrigamiKiller has been a little overzealous. Having one piece published this week hasn’t stopped him, in fact it’s spurred him on. This time he’s shifted from looking at Call of Duty to split screen gaming. 

There is no denying that this generation we have seen a decline in split screen multiplayer. I remember a time when nearly every game that was released would have a split screen option. Sadly this isn’t the case anymore, in fact it seems fairly rare to now find a game with a really enjoyable split screen option. Why is this so?

Thinking back a few years to the PS2 I would only buy games which contained split screen. I find it so enjoyable to play with a friend by my side. It makes the game more competitive and gives you some great memories which you can discuss over and over again. In particular I have very fond memories of last generation’s Need for Speed titles; the fun that could be had playing with a friend was something not to be missed.

[drop]Moving on to this generation, EA have released plenty of Need for Speed titles, yet only one contained a split screen feature. The holder of this prestigious distinction is ProStreet, which can be best described as an average game that remained incomplete.

Even though the feature has been missing from from quite a few games now, it still comes to mind when I spend time with a Need for Speed title. Whilst playing Hot Pursuit I ask myself “You know what could make this game better? If I was racing against my brother in split screen.” It’s true. As a result Need for Speed has sadly lost my interest.

There is only one reason which springs to mind when considering why split screen has slowly disappeared; online multiplayer. In the last few years online multiplayer has grown massively and in my opinion it has become the new split screen. I for one don’t believe playing with somebody over the internet can provide the same competitiveness and joy with a friend say by your side, although for some of you it might.

However, some online coop games provide a great experience. The way they allow you to complete games as a team arise to friendships forming with people you have never met before. It’s fantastic how this can happen.

One of the big issues with online play though is that not everyone can access the internet on their consoles or even in their home at all. When we see so many games released with online features and no offline multiplayer options it must be hard for many people with the lack of internet to get their worth from a game.

[drop2]It’s not all doom and gloom for split screen though. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Black Ops contained online split screen. It was a smart choice to include it in the game and has in turn lead to me playing the online more than I would on my own. Before Black Ops I had never actually experienced online split screen, since then it has featured in Uncharted 3 and of course MW3. It has not only provided the fun with a friend sat by your side but also furnishes you with the unique experience that can be had online. It’s a perfect package for multiplayer gaming.

In the future I would ideally like to see a rise in split screen multiplayer, although a better choice would be to roll it into the online multiplayer. Combining the two seems to bring about the best effect, and brings the best of both worlds. In my opinion it would bring more competiveness and joy to gaming.

Do you believe that split screen multiplayer should be included in more games or are you more open to online multiplayer features? And also what are the best split screen moments that you have experienced in gaming?



  1. Best split screen experience for me would be playing Portal 2 co-op with my brother over a weekend. Loved it all the way through.

    • One more thing to add. Goldeneye, That is all.

      • Good shout!

      • Though it’s a shame the remake is abysmal. Bought it after Christmas and the split screen was a shameful attempt to copy CoD – though to be fair I’d been playing Timesplitters the night before, so it was even more obvious

    • Get Warhawk for the ultimate online split screen experience with 4 players.

      Too boad Starhawk won’t do this…

  2. i believe that, as far as its feasible, all options for local multiplayer should be implemented.
    sure its easy to say you didnt have the time during development but its nice to have as many options to enjoy the product as possible.

    my best experience was last year oddly enough via online co-op, i played almost the entirity of borderlands with a french guy.
    no mics at all and yet we shared health, drop class specific items to each other and motioned each other through places by waving our guns around, it was almost a shame when we started talking, guess i like the silent type :D

  3. You can never have enough splitted screens. My best split screen experience? Popping balloons in Mario Kart 64 and co-op in Halo 1 springs to mind.

  4. Resistance 2 introduced me to the joy of online split-screen, in 60 player battles.
    What a game. :)

    Love it in Uncharted 3 too. Black Ops never got off the ground for me though- I didn’t enjoy the game, and neither did my sister. So it got traded fast.

    • Oh, and my biggest disappointment this generation was the removal of split-screen from two series: Burnout (although because Paradise can actually make a decent case for it not fitting it, I’ll let them off) and Killzone 2 (no excuses, a shooter without split-screen isn’t finished).

  5. Sorry for double posting, but I just want to mention that I think local multiplayer adds a longer life to a game. It makes sure that the game will be brought out every now and then for some local fun. Even many years after it’s release.

    • For when servers are taken down & the like.

  6. I love split screen, most the games I play are split screen, its [funner] to have your friends in the room then over mic.

  7. The TimeSplitters series and FIFA have provided me with my best and most memorable split screen moments.

    I think split screen online multiplayer is good, but they need their own lobbies in games for split screen players, as it can be unfair at times – for example in S&D in MW3, just lookat your mates killcam when hes died and you know EXACTLY where they are. Annoys me (yes i’m a competitive bastard).

    • Reading this back it occured to me, FIFA isn’t split screen, but you get my drift.

      • haha about the call of duty killcams! I would cheat on split screen in wager matches on Blops with my brother, we would never kill each other and tell each other where we were killed etc :P Good teamwork I say, but it is probably cheating. I didn’t know whether to mention FIFA, without a doubt the most enjoyable game I have played with a bunch of mates.

  8. One thing I hate about split-screen this generation is that they make my TV screen smaller so there are big black spaces that use nothing.

    But anyway nothing beats split-screen!!

    • That is annoying, but after moving to uni, me and two mates played about 6 hours of blops today, two at a time. It’s just so much fun on split screen…

  9. Twisted Metal World Tour is the best game ever made in my opinion, and that is in no small part due to the splitscreen co-op mode.

  10. Split screen needs to stay. Not everyone wants to play online with random screaming children who swear every 3rd word, are high on E numbers and leave their mic on while they have a cold and so all you can hear is coughing, sniffing or their washing machine going in the background. Sometimes I actually want to play with people in person. I sound all grumbling now but yes, 4 player split screen is fantastic!

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