Is Split Screen Gaming Dying? Mourning the Loss of Couch Co-Op

JUN 05, 2022

Many gamers have fond memories of playing couch co-op games such as the old Halo titles with their friends, working together to finish stories, and sharing in the experience.

If you have similar memories to this, you may be wondering whether split screen gaming is dead. Let's explore this.

Is Split Screen Gaming Dying?

Split screen gaming used to be very popular, especially when the price of consoles and games was more expensive. In recent years, games released with split screen capability haven't been as prevalent, but are they dead or just experiencing a downturn?

This discussion on split screen gaming's popularity has been around for a few years and the answer remains the same: no, split screen gaming is not dead yet, but it is not as prevalent as it used to be. Unfortunately, interest only seems to be declining. Games released with split screen compatibility seem to have decreased, but it's not completely forgotten about yet. Nintendo in particular seems to retain split screen support for its titles, and there are also plenty of couch co-op games on the Xbox Series X|S.

There are certain games such as A Way Out that were built with the purpose of being co-op only. There are also remasters or backward compatibility in the case of games such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Diablo III, which have split screen couch co-op gaming and still hold up to this day.

It could definitely be argued that split screen gaming is dying, but not dead yet. Despite this, there are plenty of older games with couch co-op features that are available on newer platforms. So even if games aren't released as often with split screen or couch co-op available, there are enough games to hold your attention for the time being.

Why Is Split Screen Gaming Dying?

There are three key reasons why split screen gaming is dying.

Firstly, performance issues. It is much more difficult for developers to make a game that has more than 30FPS, high-resolution graphics, expansive content, and includes split screen. Adding split-screen to a game can negatively impact performance because of the need to double everything; games these days are much harder to run on split screen than they would have been on the Xbox 360 or PS2 days.

Secondly, it is much more financially beneficial to developers, publishers, and console manufacturers, if they don't include a feature that allows you and your friends to play with each other on the same console. By removing split-screen, it means that to play together, you and your gaming partner both need to have the game on your consoles, meaning more purchases. Not all game developers are money-hungry of course, but money is definitely the biggest incentive for most of them. In fact, it could even be argued that video games should be more expensive.

Thirdly, the lack of interest. Games that release with only co-op in mind such as A Way Out or Cuphead don't seem to do so well on sales compared to games that release without co-op being their main marketing point. It seems like couch co-op is a feature that's 'nice to have' rather than being a necessary part of the game's focus.

What Consoles and Games Should You Buy for Couch Co-Op?

If you're looking to be able to play couch co-op, then you'll be pleased to know that there are still plenty of options.

The Xbox Game Pass gives you an array of games to play for a small subscription each month, with brand-new games regularly debuting on the service. There are plenty of couch co-op games offered on the Game Pass, for example, the Borderlands series and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, amongst other titles. Xbox Game Pass is probably your best option, it features both old and new games that have a split-screen feature. In fact, there are multiple reasons to buy Xbox Game Pass.

Nintendo titles seem to be more frequently released with split-screen functionality, making the Switch a good choice if you prefer Nintendo first-party titles over Microsoft.

There is also the option of buying older consoles from previous generations such as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 2. If you're on PC, there are plenty of split-screen titles available on Steam such as Castle Crashers, Borderlands, or Portal 2, to name just a few.

Split Screen Gaming Isn’t Dead Yet

Split screen gaming is definitely on the decline, but it's not dead yet. There are plenty of games that still offer this experience and a few games that are centered around the idea.

There are tons of local multiplayer games to play on PC if you don't have a console, meaning that no matter your platform, you'll still be able to find games to play with a friend next to you.


Brad R. Edwards (91 Articles Published)

iOS writer and Digital Marketing student.

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