There was a good deal of excitement when Telltale announced that Batman – the Telltale Series would be shipping with the ability to play multiplayer with a new Crowd Play feature that let people vote on what choices to make.
That, however, may take a dive now that Telltale has explained more about their Crowd Play feature – including that it is not designed for use over streaming services. Instead, it’s built for local multiplayer with the idea being to avoid having people take turns with the controller or other solutions that have been used to turn single player experiences into a shared one for as long as single player games have existed. Telltale explains that they built it to work best with 6-12 people, although it can support thousands of people potentially. For big things, like a theater full of players, Telltale will be organizing special events and say to leave the larger groups to them.
The explanation there for why it doesn’t work over streaming is due to latency in streaming services which mean that not everyone is seeing the same thing at the exact same time. They are working with streaming services to address the issue, but it “certainly won’t be ideal for streaming out of the box”. Right now they are saying everyone needs to be in the same room, watching the same screen for it to work properly. Part of the issue with this may be that Telltale often implements Quick Time Events and timed dialogue options which could turn that latency into an issue that other games don’t have.
They also further elaborated on Crowd Play in the post. To start with, mobile versions of the games will not have the ability to host Crowd Play, leaving that just to console and PC versions for now. To host, you will need a Telltale Online account and activate the mode inside the game. Then, with a unique code, you will visit the web portal, insert your code and then friends and family can join your game. Crowd Play mode has two settings, one which lets the crowd always control what happens, and one which lets the host overrule the crowd at their own will. In the case of a tie, the host’s selection is the tiebreaker.
It seems to me that Telltale didn’t really think about streaming here and is scrambling to deal with it. While I appreciate the idea – if I’m grabbing a bunch of friends for a game night or something I’m not likely to be playing a Telltale game. They aren’t really the types of games that bring that feeling to them, even with the ability to have everyone vote on their choice. Considering smaller developers like TinyBuild have worked through the issue in other genres, there’s no reason a bigger studio like Telltale shouldn’t have for the initial release here.