The Death of Split-Screen Co-Op Gaming

Borderlands 2 co-op

It’s Saturday afternoon, no work, no school, so you decide to call up some friends to come over for an afternoon of Rainbow Six. Or maybe you want to spend the afternoon with your kids playing Halo on the couch. Well you better be talking about multiple couches and multiple consoles, because the days of playing co-op with a buddy on the same TV are over.


I’m a gamer from all the way back to 1985, when I got my first NES. From that day, whether it was my brother and sister taking turns with me, or two of us playing at the same time, gaming has always been not just a social experience, but an in person social experience. From two of us taking on Shredder in TMNT 2 on the NES to my brother helping me defeat Bowser in Super Mario World, gaming with another person in the same room has been a staple.

Then came the XBOX and Halo: Combat Evolved. A series that I have been a fan of since its debut, Halo has captured my imagination and my money. I have played every game thus far and completed the story modes with one of my kids sitting in the chair next to me, split-screening our way to the credits. We’ve shared co-op time in Rainbow Six Vegas, Gears of War, and even still to this day play split screen Star Wars Battlefront 2 on the PS2.

Halo 5 art

The XBOX ONE and PS4 are changing that. Beginning this year, titles like Halo 5, Star Wars Battlefront, Rainbow Six, and even the new Ghost Recon are all single player. The only way to do co-op will be to join another player online and play together over the internets. For my house, used to playing together on one console, means we would have to have multiple XBOX’s on multiple TV’s. Not exactly an easy thing to do. Why are these triple-A titles that we have all grown up with erectultra pills now suddenly nixing same screen co-op?

Two of my favorite same screen gaming experiences of the past year were both on the PS3; Borderlands 2 and Diablo 3. Both games offered a two player experience, one split-screen and the other same screen. My wife and I have played the Hell out of Diablo (pun intended) and have no problem going back for more. It was just a fun game made better by the fact that we could sit together on the couch and play the game as a team.

Diablo 3 PS3

The same for Borderlands. My sons take turns playing with me in split-screen mode. They have played through the game alone and together, so its nice having someone next to me who knows the missions and can help me in a tight spot. You can’t simulate that high five you give each other when you take down a particularly hard boss. With these amazing co-op games from last gen, plus the awesome Halo 4 and Gears of War franchise, why would you want to go into the most powerful generation of consoles and take that away?

One theory is that splitting the screen and essentially having two games running at the same time slows down your system and could cause lag or frame rate issues. Another, more popular theory, is that this is a way to sell more consoles. Regardless of the reason, it brings one thing to light. We are becoming more and more comfortable having only online friends and online conversations, content to live out our lives alone or at the very least being by ourselves. Oh, sure, we can still play Mario Party or Mario Kart on the Wii U together, but what about all the other franchises that have been so dear to us because they let us play together?

If Nintendo ever turns its back on us split-screen co-op players, that will truly bring about dark times. Dark times indeed.

Single player Wii U Smash

Do you play split-screen? Do you think I’m wrong? Tell me down in the comments and make your opinion heard.


All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!

R.A. Miller

R. A. Miller, the pen name of Robert Miller, spends his days working for the Suncoast Media Group and his nights writing for Deck Ape, as well as his own fiction. A graduate of Full Sail University with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment, Robert uses his knowledge and his skills to create spectacular, page turning fiction.