Killzone 3 (KZ3) came out 14 months ago exclusively on Sony’s PlayStation 3. The game received high critical praise, especially in regards to the title’s the top-notch competitive multiplayer.  Unfortunately, like many first person shooters not named Call of Duty or Battlefield, the community dwindled to a steady, but comparatively smaller group of dedicated players. One could always find games online, but rosters weren’t regularly as full as they could be and finding matches took a little longer than in the months first following launch.

Sony surprised shooter fans six weeks ago by releasing the Killzone 3 multiplayer experience as a free download on PlayStation Network. Released with little marketing support, the trial gave players the opportunity to demo all the standard and DLC KZ3 multiplayer maps until reaching a predetermined level 10 cap.

At that point, the player can keep his or her character progress by purchasing the full multiplayer experience (note that the campaign is not included). Priced at $14.99 (and a sweet $7.99 for PS+ subscribers), the offer is a steal for anyone looking for quality, visually stunning multiplayer mayhem.

Most gamers may not realize it, but we are seeing a great experiment unfold right in front of our eyes. With the release of Killzone 3’s multiplayer as a download, we have seen an ‘AAA’ title split down the middle and put online to try and grow the game’s community.

There are naturally three questions we need to ask at this juncture. First, has the trial been a success and grown the Killzone 3 community as hoped? Second, if the answer to question number one is “yes,” are we witnessing the birth of a new distribution method for ‘AAA’ multiplayer gaming? Lastly, does splitting a game into smaller parts help or hurt the game overall?

To answer the third question, industry statistics show that most single player campaigns are never completed. In fact, only 10% of players ever finished Red Dead Redemption’s main storyline, a game universally praised by critics and gamers alike. Similarly, in the words of Activision’s Keith Fuller in an interview last year with CNN, “What I’ve been told as a blanket expectation is that 90% of players who start your game will never see the end of it unless they watch a clip on YouTube.”

Whatever the genre, whatever the platform, 90% of people will never finish the average console game’s single player campaign.

I decided to pole ten of my avid gaming friends to put the ‘10%’ statistic to the test, simply for the sake of argument. Of my ten gamer friends, only one ever finished the Call of Duty: Black Ops campaign, two finished Mass Effect 2 and zero finished The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s main storyline.  Now, that doesn’t mean they didn’t spend massive amounts of time on these games, it simply means they didn’t finish the main storylines.

I do not, unfortunately, have statistics to share regarding Sony’s KZ3 experiment at this time. (I contacted Guerilla Games for comment, but haven’t heard back yet.) However, what I do have is my own observations and those of other long-time KZ3 players.  In a nutshell, KZ3 hasn’t had this many people joining multiplayer matches for months.  Even more interesting, people keep talking about the influx of players during matches I’ve competed in. The feeling in the air for the average KZ3 multiplayer community member is one of excitement.

Whether all these new players become long-term community members, either by purchasing the multiplayer download or the full retail game, remains to be seen. What we do know is that splitting the experience and giving gamers several hours of playtime has unquestionably exposed new blood to KZ3. That can only be good for the online community.

I personally hope this form of distribution spreads to other games featuring dedicated online communities.  Those that want to enjoy the full experience always have the option of buying complete games on discs, and those on a budget or who only want to play online can do so at a lower price and still contribute to the community.

What do you think? Is Sony’s Killzone 3 experiment good for the industry and gamers alike, or bad? Tell us in the comments or share on twitter at @GameJudgment.

  1. I’d like to see more game companies adopt this sort of approach. I think it revitalises older games that have dwindling online communities.

  2. I think this is a pretty cool idea because of drawing new people in. However I’m one of the 10% that plays through and enjoys the campaign, I worry that developers won’t even bother producing a campaign anymore. Despite that I like the idea, thanks for pointing it out!

  3. Brownface says:

    As long as it helps grow online communities I’m all for it. It brought a ton o new people to kz3. Many of these people missed out on kz3 when it first released and this gave them another chance, from the people ive talked to I. Games they love the game and are really glad Sony released this because they would of missed it otherwise

  4. HolyMolin says:

    Wow ,just wow! Some people are criticizing Sony for offering free optional content.

    Damn you Sony for your dastardly ways.

  5. J0hn says:

    This experiment sucks. You’re locked out of most of the content so it won’t give you an accurate impression what you van achieve with the multiplayer. Plus it’s still KZ3, which is poor in comparison to KZ2.

  6. RAVE says:

    Playstation brand is now being dwarfed by competitors. So KZ3 is only matters for a small portion of gaming community. PS3 is no longer powerful, wait for nextgen consoles for better tech.

    • atr says:

      Next gen wont make a game better, having pretty pictures wont make a game play better, be more innovative and so on. That comes from the devs making the game. Just look at some of the most popular video games in history like, pac man, tetris and space invaders. They are remembered and loved because they are fun and people go back and play them not because they have shiny hd cut scenes and particle effects.

  7. diegercvb says:

    hope so would love to have resistance 3 CO-OP mode i would pay 15$ for it :)

    • BubbabigBoy says:

      I hear you on this! The ability to buy the portions of games you want, rather than the whole thing, is awesome as long as the portions are reasonably priced. In a digital age where “serving sizes” of any game are relatively easy to create, why not do it for those that would be interested? It can grow communities and save gamers money at the same time.

  8. DeadBones says:

    I love this idea. It works for the the fans that’ll still buy the full disc or download, and the people who are trying to save money and only want one aspect of a game. The only possible downside is the FPS games with the strongest multiplayer communities, the Call of Duty’s and the Battlefield’s. I know a lot of people who only buy those games for the multiplayer and never touch the single player. It could be bad for the devs and publishers because if they split the game in 2 parts they can’t charge full price, logically anyway. And the same goes for the sports games. But I still love this idea.

  9. BubbabigBoy says:

    I like it. The benefits are there for EVERYONE. Peeps that want the whole disc can still get that, those pinching pennys can go the cheaper route for MP gaming, and it’s a great way to fight piracy. It gives people options while helping grow the community.

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