Gaming has changed a lot in recent years, with one of the biggest trends being the rise of online multiplayer. In PC, Internet, and console games alike, players now connect to massive, often-worldwide communities to play with and against friends, strangers, and sometime even professional players. This has been the case for some years now, and online gaming communities will likely only continue to grow in the near future. But one of the most interesting things to consider, for avid gamers, is how this shift has affected strategy.
In particular, many are approaching online multiplayer gaming with the same way that people approach other forms of competition. Gamers are beginning to scout, track, and analyze their opponents. Sounds kind of crazy, right? Well, consider some of the following examples and you may realize scouting and opponent analysis are more rampant than you might have guessed in modern gaming.
One of the most relevant (if somewhat-casual) examples comes from a January article at Stack.com titled Know – And Defeat – Your Madden 25 Opponent. Naturally, sports games can invite some level of scouting, because the actual strategies and gameplay mimic that of actual sports. It’s easy enough for a sports fan playing a game simulating his or her favorite sport to recognize a playing style or tendency of an opponent and act accordingly. But this Stack article takes things a step further, characterizing types of Madden players like “The Gambler,” and “The Good Sport,” and providing strategies for beating them. It’s all meant lightly and is as much a humorous critique of Madden players as it is a strategy guide, but it nonetheless implies that players can be figured out and beaten on a very fundamental level—for those paying close attention.
The shooter genre is another corner of the gaming industry in which you’ll find very in-depth strategic approaches to mastering multiplayer. If you have experience with any particular shooter and get into online multiplayer, you’ve likely had the experience of getting completely dominated by an opponent who just seems awesome at the game. From the perspective of the one dying and respawning every few seconds, it probably just seems like your opponents are quicker, more accurate, and more experienced. But in actuality, they might just be better prepared. In a Pocket Lint article on pro tips for Call of Duty multiplayer, some of the suggestions include learning game maps inside out and even going back to “theatre” (replays, highlights, etc. depending on the specific game) to review mistakes and improve. That’s right: skilled shooting gamers out there are literally scouting out terrain and reviewing game film to learn how to beat you more easily!
The online poker industry is another area of gaming in which we’re seeing increased use of strategic, scout-like approaches. Naturally, poker in any environment involves a strategic approach. Players know the odds of drawing a given hand, understand the pros and cons of betting in different situations, etc. However, in online poker particularly, there are opportunities for even more thorough uses of strategy, and players are taking advantage. In a Party Poker blog post at Party Poker, pro player Scott Baumstein advises players to actually take written notes on their opponents’ tendencies throughout a hand or tournament. This is something players can’t do at live events, but they can do in online casino environments, which can enhance the strategic approach and improve scouting methods.
These are only a few examples of what looks to be a growing trend all across gaming. Naturally, there are many other instances in which a gamer might improve his or her multiplayer performance or competitive record by keeping records, taking notes, and analyzing opponents. And this is just one of many ways in which the expansion of online multiplayer gaming is diversifying the general gaming experience.