Left 4 Dead 2
Problem: When you split your available content in half, one half is going to be left behind.
When Left 4 Dead 2 was announced, a lot of gamers were upset that it was a standalone product, and not DLC for the first game. After getting some hands-on time with the game, I can safely say that Left 4 Dead 2 stands on its own. The feel of the game is different from its predecessor, and it evolves the Left 4 Dead formula without obsoleting the original game.
Therein lies the problem. Sometimes I feel like playing a campaign in the original game’s horror-movie style, and sometimes I want the faster action-movie feel of L4D2. The problem is that I need to make that decision from Steam’s game-launching window, rather than from the Left 4 Dead matchmaking window. When I click ‘Quick Match’ or ‘Find a Game’ from the Left 4 Dead 2 menu, I’m really only searching through half of the possible Left 4 Dead games out there.
Solution: Pop out matchmaking as a separate application.
A simple standalone matchmaking application would improve the value of the product for players who own both L4D and L4D2. Players could load this application, create lobbies, chat with each other, and select their campaign and game mode from all the options they own. Once they launch the game, the appropriate game engine would load automatically. It would increase the loading time, but it would ensure that Left 4 Dead fans are able to employ and enjoy all the content they’ve paid for.
Additionally, it increases the value and staying power of the Left 4 Dead campaigns and characters, by reducing the impression that this content is somehow old-fashioned or obsolete. I think this ties into an earlier post I made about Games as Platforms. I’m seeing Left 4 Dead as a platform, and I want to be able to just keep adding more and more content, campaigns, and characters into that platform.
We’re sure to see this problem again when Valve inevitably releases Left 4 Dead 3. Maybe they’ll implement a solution by then.