The Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 may be the first consoles to require that users be connected to the internet at all times to use them. This has been a controversial point being discussed by developers, publishers, and consumers. It’s not surprising that consumers are readying their pitchforks at the thought of an always online device. Recent launches of games that featured similar functionality have been horrible experiences, that have left many persons plunking down their hard-earned cash for a product that cannot be used due to no fault of their own.
We’ve seen controversy stem from the discussion. Adam Orth, a developer at Microsoft resigned from his position after stirring the hornets nest with Always Online talk. His approach wasn’t tactful. He told consumers to #DEALWITHIT via Twitter. Others have made better points, and more articulately. Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games and Gears of War fame told readers of his blog that he thinks the future is one that is always online, and that “Technology doesn’t advance by worrying about the edge case.” The “edge case” being persons who don’t have reliable high-speed internet.
Ubisoft has recently jumped into the mix. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Yannis Mallat spoke about always online, and how he thinks the world is ready for it. “I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices – I would suspect that the audience is ready.”
And while the audience very well may be ready to reap the benefits of always online devices, the downfalls have been too awful to ignore. Which Mallat acknowledges in response to the Sim City example: “The answer lies in the question – as soon as players don’t have to worry, they can only take into account the benefits that those services bring.”
This weekend we saw first hand what downtime on a network that people expect to be online does to its users. Now imagine you just paid $500 for a console that can’t be used because said service is down.
Always Online is just a rumor at this point for the Xbox 720 and PS4. There have also been rumors to the contrary. Rumors that say Microsoft has no intention of introducing such a technology to their next console. With the rumored May reveal of the next-gen Xbox rapidly approaching, and another dedicated PlayStation 4 reveal rumored prior to E3, these two companies should start clearing the air in short order.