According to an official spokesperson at Comic Con, Telltale Games is adding an online multiplayer component to their games starting with Batman. In an apparent attempt to bring spectators into the experience, Telltale is introducing a Crowd Play function with two optional modes. The first mode allows the whole room, or crowd, to make decisions based on a majority vote. This mechanic is similar to the choice vote system in the Bioware MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. The second allows the main player to have the last say on any decision making.
When this Crowd Play is opted into, the game will then generate a URL that can be accessed by any participating players using smart devices and PCs. It is said that more than 2,000 players can vote on a single playthrough of the game.
This is the first Telltale title to feature multiplayer. Starting with the 2012 title, The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has stuck to a formula of interactive storytelling that tries to give singular players meaningful choices. Very few of their subsequent games have deviated from this formula. Sam & Max and Tales From the Borderlands experimented with dual characters with different abilities, but both of those titles were still single player. It’s likely hard to try to have a multiplayer mode in linear interactive stories where the player has some choice in how it plays out.
Batman games in general are mostly known to be single player affairs. Aside from some fighting games such as the Injustice series and a couple beat ’em ups featuring Batman and Robin, games starring The Dark Knight have mostly kept multiplayer out of the experience. One particular example is the highly acclaimed Batman Arkham series, which while featuring alternate playable characters such as Catwoman, Robin, and even the Joker, featured no multiplayer of any kind. This could probably be attributed to the more modern interpretations of the Batman mythos emphasizing his lone wolf qualities.
This mode seems as if it’s trying to be the best of both worlds: a way to marry Batman’s “just leave it to me” philosophy with a multiplayer social experience. Telltale games subsequent to this game will incorporate this Crowd Play mode as well. Time will tell if this mode can appeal to players long enough to be a traditional mode in Telltale’s products.