Ghost Multiplayer: How Fake Multiplayer Can Bring Depth to your Game
Games with multiplayer functions have existed for nearly six decades, evolving from 2-player local-hosted games to huge online-network games like Fortnite. From a developer’s perspective, it can be a tricky function to incorporate into a game, which is why not many mobile games have the feature integrated. However in hyper-casual mobile games it would appear that the function is making a comeback in a new form, with developers creating fake or “ghost” multiplayers.
While it’s a function that can create a competitive edge and increase retention, creating a “fake” feature can have its ethical drawbacks. In this article, we’ll explore how multiplayer affects user experience, the ease of implementing ghost multiplayers, and how having a “ghost” feature can come back to haunt you.
Multiplayer Provides Competitive Edge for Users
Adding multiplayer functions can make a game more dynamic in a number of ways. The most obvious point is that it brings another added level of entertainment for users to play against friends and engage in friendly competition. On a larger scale, for a sole user it creates a new competitive edge that can used to rank players globally for competitions and overall player recognition of skill. However, creating a multiplayer function for your game is often easier said than done.
Ghost Multiplayer Can Increase Retention with Less Labor Involved
From a developer’s perspective, multiplayer is known as a great retention technique, however, developers know the headache involved. Creating a game with multiplayer functions requires a lot of work and can be fraught with technical issues, which is why ghost multiplayer is becoming increasingly popular in hyper-casual games.
Creating a ghost multiplayer function mimics all the real qualities of a real multiplayer scenario with half the work involved. The benefits are that it doesn’t require an internet connection or has tech issues that are often involved in real multiplayer games. For implementation, it’ll take some creative work from the developer in mimicking a “fake” loading screen before play as well as creating randomness is the opponent’s movements and usernames. On top of this, developers will also have to integrate a level of artificial intelligence to ensure the fake multiplayers act like they have ‘a mind of their own’.
The Question of Ethics with Fake Multiplayer
Whilst ghost multiplayer is beneficial for developers, the concept can raises questions on the overall ethics of such a feature for users. The main concern is if players realise their playing against fake players, it can hurt the user’s trust and opinion of the game and studio. Another thought is that users may believe the game is rigged and unfair since they are playing a computer generated enemy. As a result, ghost multiplayer functions should be implemented at the developer’s discretion and should not be falsely advertised to the user.