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Online Multiplayer Patch For ModNation Vita Being Discussed, More Reasons For its Absence Given

January 24, 2012 Written by Sebastian Moss

Gamers were understandably outraged to learn that Vita title ModNation Racers: Road Trip would have no online multiplayer, something that was exacerbated by the bizarre excuse given that made the lack of an important feature sound like a bold, evolutionary step. Now, SCE San Diego’s Director of Product Development, Erich Waas, has clarified why online wasn’t included, and has given some hope towards inclusion in the future.

Waas took to the PS Blog comments section to reply to the deluge of angry and confused comments that mainly focused on the baffling excuse, and how they wouldn’t buy the game without online multiplayer. Waas said (emphasis added):

I appreciate the feedback on the blog. It’s great to see people passionate about ModNation Racers: Road Trip. As a gamer, if I saw a game I was looking forward to playing didn’t have a feature I wanted, I’d be bummed too. I didn’t expect everyone to read the blog and agree with me or for the blog to smooth over strong feelings on the matter. My intent was to explain the position the development team took when designing the feat

ure set. A couple of you have mentioned that MNR PSP had online play and this is of course true. But part of the decision to not include MNR:RT at launch was that the percentage of MNR PSP gamers who played online. The percentage was in the single digits. I imagine if we said MNR PSP didn’t have online head-to-head prior to its launch, the reaction would be the same. But in the end, not many actually played online head-to-head. All this said, the development team is looking at online head-to-head in a patch. This wouldn’t be available day-1 of the PlayStation Vita launch but it is indeed something being researched as I type this.

Later saying:

We used a number of metrics to form our decision for our launch feature set. From an independent study to less traditional online game usage data from AT&T to small focus groups. I get that you don’t agree with this decision and I don’t expect to change your mind. I’m just providing some back story to show that we made decisions thoughtfully and didn’t throw darts at a wall. Head-to-head is something we’re very keen on patching for ModNation Racers: Road Trip–even more so thanks to feedback here. We’ll be sure to communicate more when the plans are more concrete.

But readers were still not satisfied by the the excuse that the PSP version had no online players, considering the Vita is far more online focused, causing Waas to reply (emphasis added):

I agree with the PlayStation Vita being the ultimate connected handheld device. Our choice for the launch was more about what features the team could implement within the development schedule and what online usage patterns we’d seen with our own MNR PSP title as well as other games to date. It’s not that we don’t think head-to-head is a good feature–we do! We felt that the asynchronous features would be used by a bigger portion of the game’s demographic. But again, we’re looking at what (and when) we can patch online head-to-head play in as another online offering.

Continuing:

Between the blog and my commenting on the blog, my messaging is probably a little fragmented. It’s not that we have an doubts about whether or not head-to-head online play is relevant. I know it is. It was a matter of prioritizing which online features tell the best story for the game and the new PlayStation Vita. We also try to look at how many gamers will utilized each feature we put into a game to see where it makes the most time to spend our development effort. As is normally the case, we have a laundry list of features we want to put into the game that far exceeds the budget or business case. So we have to prioritize features to create the best offering. Your points are valid and they were part of the discussion. But since the game is coming out next month, I think what you really want to hear is whether or not MNR:RT will be patched with online head-to-head play (with parties). We should have more info on this subject in the near future.

Sadly, it looks like to keep up with the development schedule – that is, to ensure it’s a launch title – one of the most important features for a racing game (especially a Play.Create.Share. title) has been left out.

Will you also refuse to buy the game until head-to-head online is guaranteed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

I appreciate the feedback on the blog. It’s great to see people passionate about ModNation Racers: Road Trip. As a gamer, if I saw a game I was looking forward to playing didn’t have a feature I wanted, I’d be bummed too. I didn’t expect everyone to read the blog and agree with me or for the blog to smooth over strong feelings on the matter. My intent was to explain the position the development team took when designing the feature set. A couple of you have mentioned that MNR PSP had online play and this is of course true. But part of the decision to not include MNR:RT at launch was that the percentage of MNR PSP gamers who played online. The percentage was in the single digits. I imagine if we said MNR PSP didn’t have online head-to-head prior to its launch, the reaction would be the same. But in the end, not many actually played online head-to-head. All this said, the development team is looking at online head-to-head in a patch. This wouldn’t be available day-1 of the PlayStation Vita launch but it is indeed something being researched as I type this.