Burnout Paradise: No Splitscreen (Again)


Burnout Paradise Demo

Now that Burnout Paradise is making its way to stores, threads are popping up on the forums like this one and this one asking about splitscreen support. Lots of people (like me) want splitscreen support, but it also looks like lots of people just don’t care.

Here are the people that should and do care about splitscreen:

  • Families. If you have several kids all wanting to play a game, then splitscreen support in a racing game is vital. What else are you going to do, buy two TV’s and consoles?
  • Room-mates. If you’re just living with a friend after graduation or some college buddies in a dorm, wouldn’t it be great to sit down and race the tracks together?
  • Social people. This is the group that I fall into. I regularly have people at my place to play videogames. MotorStorm never makes an appearance because it has no splitscreen. And you know? MotorStorm is exactly the kind of game we like. If it had splitscreen, we’d be playing it all the time!

People that don’t care about splitscreen:

  • Gamers who live alone and don’t have gaming friends that aren’t online. Uh… what else can I say? This seems to be the group that developers are targetting, so it must be large.

So frankly, I don’t understand why there isn’t more people complaining about the lack of splitscreen. How can the latter group possibly be large enough to warrant developers dropping splitscreen support? Some people say that adding splitscreen support will (a) decrease the quality of the graphics and (b) increase development time. To those points I say (a) only in splitscreen mode which I’ll gladly accept, and about which nobody complained in previous generation games, and (b) I’ll wait for it, it can’t add that much time.

I really hope that developers rethink this strategy…


Written by: Blackstaffer - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Carl;)G on January 23rd, 2008

    Developers are LAZY!!! (HAZE will be 4player off-line)
    Played MotorStorm online, but its not the same as having mates around on a big screen playing split-screen games :-(
    Best games ever are – Goldeneye,Perfect Dark,Mario Kart 64,TimeSplitters 2
    ALL these games are Split-screen! ;-P
    I’m not buying the new BurnOut because it hasn’t even got 2 player
    off-line :-/ (+Unreal3)
    How sad :-/
    But can PS3 do MotorStorm in split-screen mode looking like the one player mode tho??????? I don’t know??? Hope it can!!! ;)

  2. #2 by Henning on January 23rd, 2008 [ 0 Points ]

    Well, no. There’s always a compromise. But the same thing was true in the PS2 generation, and the same thing was true in the PSOne generation. It wasn’t a problem then, I don’t see it being a problem now.

  3. #3 by Paranoimia on January 23rd, 2008

    I agree to a point. I often have friends round for a ‘games night’, and it is a shame we can’t play Motorstorm and the like together.

    That said, this isn’t a PS3-specific issue. When I’ve been to my friend’s house to play on his 360, there are precious few split-screen games on that, either.

    Though to be honest, given the graphical hit taken by games that do support split-screen (I’m thinking of Rainbow 6 Vegas and GRAW2 in particular), I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. GRAW2 wasn’t too bad, but R6V drops to PS2-standard graphics when doing a split-screen co-op.

  4. #4 by SL33PY on January 23rd, 2008 [ 2371 Points ]

    I must say that with Resistance: Fall of Man I didn’t see a graphical hit when playing co-op with a friend of mine. I might have noticed one stutter, maybe… not sure, it has been a while :p

    If the graphics drop like you say they do in R6V, the devs have done a crappy job

  5. #5 by Henning on January 23rd, 2008 [ 0 Points ]

    No, it’s not a PS3-specific issue, it’s a next-gen issue. I can’t think of a single four-player splitscreen next-gen racing game.

    And I’m glad that PS3 Fanboy complained about this issue too. See their review.

  6. #6 by Paranoimia on January 23rd, 2008

    SL33PY – No, resistance is an exception – there’s no graphical hit when playing co-op on the same machine. But then, Resistance – while good – isn’t that exceptional in the graphics department anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I love the game, but compared to recent titles, the graphics aren’t all that. Given the recent screenshots of Resistance 2, I’ll be VERY impressed if it keeps that level of detail in the split-screen co-op modes.

    As for R6V split-screen – I maybe exaggerated a little. It’s probably not PS2 standard, but there is a noticeable hit in texture quality, and movement feels more sluggish too.

  7. #7 by Burten on January 23rd, 2008 [ 550 Points ]

    Goddamnit!!! This just pisses me off! I’ve said it before, and will again :
    Why cant developers implement splitscreen??
    It is mentioned that developers are lazy, and it a problem with the grafical aspect. Well, that can be fixed!
    Look back acouple of years, how many games ran i 1080p? why? Because it was a hassel to program games to run in 1080p! And when they sorted out that problem, the splitscreen-problem came.
    Its all a matter of optimizing.

    I think we’ve got another side of the problem.
    The online hype!
    Everything “needs” to have some sort of online play mode.
    I’m not kidding, take a look at the games you have for your ps3 or 360, and check how many of them have online multiplayer. Now, how many have offline multiplayer?
    Thrust me, we’ve all read reviews where they say, “.. But the lack of online multiplayer..” or simular.
    Publishers are scared shit of games without any sort of online component.
    Look at GTAIV. Whats the talk of online there..? People speculating all over whats the online bit will be. Guess what?
    I DONT CARE!
    I just want a good game to play, and if I can play it with friends sitting next to me.. Exellent!
    Dont get me wrong, I like to play online, but I also like to have some friends over for gaming. So far, its only Tekken and CAC that supports desent offline gameplay. And thats just sad.
    Guess the next bummer will be that Buzz or Singstar will be online MP only…

  8. #8 by Darrin on January 23rd, 2008 [ 17143 Points ]

    Devs simply *can’t* make an open-world style game with split-screen without making major sacrifices. It’s technically not possible.

    It’s not like the devs haven’t heard this request and we need to make some noise. They know. In fact, they explained this exact issue on their podcast! (I forget the exact episode, but I thought of you, Henning).

    The problem is split-screen is a major feature that requires major design trade-offs to implement. They have to sacrifice lots of memory/cpu/io bandwidth to provide this which compromises the experience for everyone else. And this game would get *hammered* if they did that.

    Particularly with open-world style games, the streaming systems pre-cache various data around the player’s position. With split-screen, there can be multiple players in completely different positions, and such a streaming system would have to split limited CPU/IO/memory resources among those different players.

    I understand that split-screen is needed to play games in a party-style environment. But I think Criterion made the right move. They would have had to sacrifice the open-world style of play or make major quality sacrifices to get split-screen working and I’m glad they didn’t.

  9. #9 by Paranoimia on January 23rd, 2008

    I completely agree with what Darrin says – for open-world titles, it’s almost an impossibility to do split screen.

    However, that doesn’t explain why a title like Motorstorm can’t have split-screen – it is after all a closed-world game, with relatively simple looped tracks. I can only put that one down to developer oversight/laziness.

  10. #10 by Henning on January 23rd, 2008 [ 0 Points ]

    They have to sacrifice lots of memory/cpu/io bandwidth to provide this which compromises the experience for everyone else.

    No, I don’t agree. If playing in splitscreen, the quality goes down. Playing in one screen, the quality goes back up. The engine renders the world differently based on whether or not it’s working in splitscreen mode.

    Splitscreen is so important to me that I’d willingly pay the quality price to get it. And for those who play single-screen, they stiill get their higher quality stuff. This compromise isn’t new. Developers have had to deal with it since the beginning of splitscreen 3D games. It’s not any different now than it was ten years ago. But developers are dropping splitscreen like a hot potato because they can now blame online support as a replacement. Maybe it’s harder now with an open-world game, but so be it. That’s what I’m paying $60 a pop for! And it doesn’t excuse the lack of splitscreen in other games like MotorStorm, UT3, and F1.

    I was planning to buy UT3 day one until I heard that it didn’t have splitscreen. Now I don’t own it, nor do I care to purchase it. I rarely play my F1 game or MotorStorm. Both would get a lot of play with splitscreen support.

    Remember my interview with Insomniac? They said that it was a difficult problem, but that we’d end up seeing 1080p splitscreen games. If 1080p splitscreen 3D games are possible, then surely 720p splitscreen 3D games are much easier, given what a burdern 1080p is.

    Here is the relevant part of the interview:

    Rob Wyatt, Senior Engine Programmer: Split screen is a difficult problem from a performance point of view and it is certainly more difficult from an engineering point of view than rendering 1920×1080. Both together, no doubt, requires a serious engineering effort but it’s not impossible. As the PS3 hardware is better understood it will become easier. Rendering 1080 is more performance intensive than 720 simply because it has two and a quarter times as many pixels, which is not only more pixels to render but also more video memory and bandwidth is used for the bigger frame buffers. The general overhead of 1080 is the same for full screen and split screen, whether you are rendering a single viewport or 4 viewports the total number of pixels on the screen doesn’t change. Independently of the resolution, split screen places a different set of demands on the graphics hardware and graphics engine. For each viewport the engine has to more or less reprocess the entire scene, this is a lot of additional work, and ultimately generates a lot of additional polygons for the graphics hardware to process. The combined overhead of the 1080 resolution with the extra polygon processing required for multiple viewports, while keeping in frame and not sacrificing AAA quality, is a very difficult problem. In the limited development time frame of a launch game there were bigger battles to fight but it’s certainly possible and you will see split screen games running at 1080. For Resistance: Fall of Man, split screen with co-op play simply brought more to the table so 1080 support had to wait.

  11. #11 by Darrin on January 23rd, 2008 [ 17143 Points ]

    The Insomniac interview is fine exception Resistance isn’t open world. If I had more time, I’d dig up the Criterion quote from the podcast.

    I can agree that non-open world games like Motorstorm, UT3, F1 don’t have a good excuse. They could probably get split-screen in if they really wanted.

    But with true open-world titles like Burnout Paradise or GTA, I think split-screen is fundamentally unfeasible.

  12. #12 by stirlo on January 23rd, 2008

    Noooooooooo-ooo-oooooooooooooooooooooooo-ooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    that sucks! i want split screen… motorstorm, SKATE, all these games definitely need split.. :’( my gf won’t play them otherwise!

  13. #13 by Emrah on January 23rd, 2008 [ 7319 Points ]

    Yes, the open world is the answer to why this game cannot have a split screen mode. An open, streamed world on a two player split screen means double the amount of stream data and double the threads to decompress and what have you. They could also just make a game that sucks on single player but looks the same on split :=)

    However, my novel solution to this problem would be, having certain “arena” sections in the city when doing split. Sections that are big enough to have fun but small enough to fit on the memory in a single go. Compromises can also be made to make this area bigger (reduced LOD, texture resolution, we are looking at half the screen anyway)

    The simple game design element to bar people from visiting other parts of the city would be some road blocks and removal of certain jumps that may lead to out of bounds, however, in the rare case this occurs, just re-position the car inside the “arena”, we are used to it in racing games.

    Even tho restricted in a part of the city, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be damn fun to play on a split screen setup, and, this is technically not impossible, because you are losing the open-ended nature without too much extra level design work.

  14. #14 by Michael on January 23rd, 2008

    Ahh pity. I don’t really like playing online against strangers, and none of my mates have a ps3 yet. And even when they get one there’s the problem of wanting to play at the same time – you have to be in the right mood for it, even if you wanna play something. And for a game like this there’s more fun being in the same room anyway – and you only have to buy one copy.

  15. #15 by Rjcc on January 23rd, 2008

    Sorry, splitscreen gaming is dead, at least for this generation. Maybe if you’re lucky it will make a comeback next gen when machines have more RAM and developers can fit all the HD in them, but its just not happening this gen for most games. Halo 3 features 4 player split screen, replays, screenshots and customizable levels, but people complain about the graphics. They’d be better if they didn’t have to accomodate 4 player split.

    Meanwhile, do what most people buying games right now are doing, and play with your friends online, you can drink as much as you want since no one has to drive home after. It’s easy to do when you can voice chat in every game, and send voice/text messages across different games…oh (had to get that jab in.)

  16. #16 by Børten on January 24th, 2008

    Theres sosial gaming for ya!
    everbodys stuck in their own appartment, with their own tv, own console, own potato chips, own beer, own drinks..
    sounds like a party, allright!

    Come on, isn’t it kida stupid playing online with your nighbours next door?

    Cant help it, migth as well turn it all off, and drink my beers in the dark …

  17. #17 by tom on January 24th, 2008

    fix this criterion!!

    splitscreen is a must for this type of game…

    btw the demo was great!

  18. #18 by Huschke on January 24th, 2008

    I agree with Borton. What kind of sad life would it be to sit at home and just stare at your HDTV all the time.

    And btw: “Super Smash Brothers: Brawl” WILL SUPPORT 4 Player SPLITSCREEN! It will even have the option to play with up to 16 people offline by handing you wiimote over or something like that”!

  19. #19 by Rjcc on January 24th, 2008

    Hey borten, as much as I love the smell of 4 dudes sweating in a room, I’m really not seeing how thats better. Unless its a party where women are present, there’s no need for us to be in the same room.

  20. #20 by Henning on January 24th, 2008 [ 0 Points ]

    Camaraderie ?

    Kids these days…

  21. #21 by Børten on January 25th, 2008

    Rjcc:

    Thank God for differences ;-)

    Have fun on the web this weekend, you’ll find me at the pub!

  22. #22 by Børten on January 25th, 2008

    oh, forgot..
    One more thing..

    Did buy the game yesterday, will proberly play the shit of it online, just think its sad there’s no splitscreen..

    End of discussion :-)

  23. #23 by Brad on January 27th, 2008

    I just bought Burnout Paradise today and after getting home and looking at the box before opening it, thankfully, things didn’t look right. So I checked online and here I am.

    I will be returning the game tomorrow!!!!!

    Burnout: Revenge was awesome! But I will NOT buy racing games that I can’t play with my friends on the same TV. Racing is a competitive sport, competition is the most fun with your friends in the same room and on the same TV because I’m not going to buy a 2nd HDTV and system.

    Who really thinks playing with some weird e-friends you don’t know online is better than having a few real friends over and playing together?

  24. #24 by Craig on February 4th, 2008

    I find it so sad, i actually bought the ps3 so i could play friends in the same room, In split screen. And have some laughs.

    I am fed up with the single player pc. Excluding online games.

    Why can’t anyone make there games split-screen.

    Please please someone out there listen to us ones!!!!!!!!!!

  25. #25 by John on February 14th, 2008

    The fact that splitscreen gaming is taking a plunge is a shame for everyone, anyway you look at it. I often have groups of people at my house and it’s awesome to sit back and play…my girlfriend wanted a racing game so I picked this up…after Burnout: Revenge I didn’t even check the back to see if it had splitscreen, was really dissapointed…it was a good enough game for me to keep, but seriously, this messes a lot of stuff up. I swear sports games and Rock Band are the the only things I can ever play here with people …splitscreen is a must for social gaming, not everybody has a friggin’ 360/PS3 they can use. :|

  26. #26 by Jazz on June 20th, 2008

    One thing that I really don’t understand…

    Why make Two sockets for Two Controllers if there isn’t gonna be Offline
    Split-Screen…?

    And no offence at all at the games that are Offline Split-Screen,there not the games I wan’t “Split-Screen”…

    Its like,we are hoping that games that are coming out that have Offline Split-Screen are gonna be good..?
    COME ON,the games like Grand Theft Auto 4,Metal Gear Solid etc..
    Should be Split-Screen anyhow,don’t make a game where the console has Two sockets for Two controllers…
    Make Single Payer games for the PC instead that you have to have a Internet cable to go online.
    Oh,and another thing… Why buy a PS3/Xbox 360 if it can’t handle Split-Screen? PS2/Xbox handled it.

    And people who say “Split-Screen wouldn’t work (BLAH BLAH)”
    Go up and get some friends,instead of talking out of your arse through your microphone Online.

    Seriously.


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