Why Has The Trend Of LAN And Local Co-Op In Gaming Dried Down?

Investigating why LAN gaming and local co-op have vanished and their lasting impact.

Story Highlights

  • LAN was a popular gaming mode used widely for LAN parties and local co-op sessions.
  • The trend has seen a decline in the past few years, with its only recent use being in e-sports.
  • It inspired the creation of Internet-based gaming sessions hosted online in games like Satisfactory.

A good majority of gamers today, have never seen the prime of gaming as a social activity through LAN gaming. Long before the age of multiplayer servers and games hosted over the internet, there used to be a time when you would carry your bulky PCs to packed boiling rooms, find any space you could, and play some Warcraft or Halo over locally hosted servers.

Unfortunately, more convenient methods of multiplayer gaming have creatively destroyed the era of local co-op with a few exceptions. You can play from the comfort of your room, over the internet, where players can complain about high ping as much as they want.

The Prime Of LAN Gaming And Local Co-Op

The prime of LAN was one of the most monumental eras in video game history. I would dare say that it was more monumental than the boom gaming saw back during the COVID-19 era. It broke the trends of anti-social gaming behavior and presented video games as a means of socializing and competing.

A comment from u/Sticky_Hulks on a thread from r/pcgaming sums up the feelings quite well. It particularly highlights how it was “gaming for fun” back then, unlike most competitive multiplayer games today, which can be a little too, for the lack of a better word, hostile.

byu/Raglesnarf from discussion

Granted, LAN parties weren’t all good. You would occasionally see players get a little too competitive and resort to rather physical means. In addition, most venues were often jam-packed and quite hot with all the equipment present there. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable scene compared to the comfort of a modern gamer’s room and setup. You can take from u/Icemasta‘s experience on r/pcgaming.

byu/Raglesnarf from discussion

I myself spent my childhood hypnotized by the beauty of LAN gaming. Where normal families would host dinners and talk, catch up on life, and exercise other social activities, my family decided that was too boring and hosted Medal of Honor Allied Assault LAN parties. These sessions would stretch over 4-5 hours through Team Deathmatches and Free-For-All lobbies.

The Downfall Of Locally Hosted Gaming

The reason why this gaming medium has been phased out is pretty well known: the Internet. Since games started being hosted over the internet, LAN parties and local co-op trends started declining. Playing over WAN (Wide Area Network) was more comfortable and sometimes cheaper than LANs.

Games also started removing the LAN feature and shifting to server-hosted games instead. Of course, LAN clients exist for most multiplayer games, but it wasn’t possible for some co-op titles like Runescape or Neverwinter Nights, despite being popular multiplayer games.

However, a huge reason LAN died fast was cheating and piracy. Game studios decided to combat piracy by having players connect to their servers and authenticate their clients if they wanted to enjoy the entire game. u/MuzzyIsMe summed up this point quite well in r/truegaming.

byu/tomkatt from discussion

LAN Gaming In E-Sports

There is one instance where LAN gaming is not completely phased out, which is E-sports. In online games, especially competitive games, the difference in ping can play a huge part in overall performance. Additionally, it is not possible for international events to be held online because of the obvious server and ping limitations. u/porkchompsBBQ lists down this advantage in a pretty coherent way.

byu/fa0321 from discussion

LAN gaming shines in huge international events like the Valorant Champions Tour, League of Legends Worlds, and CS Tournaments. It is the major entity that has kept LAN gaming alive through massive events, giving us a small glimpse of what old multiplayer games had to offer.

The Legacy Of LAN Gaming

Although LAN gaming is nearly obsolete, it has left behind a great legacy. It has left gamers with fond memories, but more importantly, it has inspired a new gaming mode. LAN fused with local co-op and inspired co-op games with server hosting on a personal player level.

In games like Satisfactory, Valheim, and the Forest, players can host servers on their own personal machines and networks and invite other players to join them. This allows players to experience the privacy that small LAN parties used to provide while also giving them the comfort of playing from their own rooms.

Satisfactory Session Creator
Multiplayer Game Hosting Sessions | Source: eXputer

Overall, LAN gaming and local co-op were great gaming mediums that will be greatly missed. They paved the way for many developments that directly or indirectly boosted gaming. Lastly and most importantly, it laid out the foundation upon which most modern multiplayer games are built.

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Ibrahim Akhtar is a guides & features writer at eXputer. He uses his passion for gaming to provide insightful takes in his articles. Ibrahim spends most of his time defending Baldur's Gate from the forces of the Absolute. He has accumulated more than 15 years of gaming experience, having 1000 hours in The Witcher 3 and twice as much on Skyrim V. Ibrahim has previously worked at TopTierList. You can keep up with his Steam account to stay up to date on his latest explorations.

Experience: 1+ Years || Previously Worked for TopTierList || Education: Bachelors in Data Science.

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