Attention Game Developers And Console Manufacturers: 'Always On' Is NOT The Same As 'Always Connectable'

from the for-starters,-one's-an-imposition dept

Game publishers and console manufacturers have been feeling some intensified heat from customers about “always on” requirements. (SimCity, anyone?) Microsoft has been battling rumours that the new Xbox will need an internet connection to function, an issue greatly magnified by some unfortunate tweets by its (former) Creative Director.

Ubisoft has played the villain quite frequently in recent years, lacing its single player games with DRM requiring (at minimum) an initial internet connection at bootup. The CEO of Ubisoft Montreal (Yannis Mallat) seems to be perfectly fine with “always online” next gen consoles, stating simply, “I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices. I would suspect the audience is ready.”

It almost seems like a logical statement, but Mallat is making some huge assumptions about what the public is “ready” for. A console that won’t do anything without (at the very least) phoning home isn’t one of them, as indie game developer Rob Fearon (a.k.a. Rob Remakes — creator of DRM, a game with absolutely no DRM) points out in his rather devastating response post.

Look, we really need to start making the difference clear here. Lots of people are always connectible through other devices not always online. My iThing is always connectible, my computer is always connectible, my Xbox360 is always connectible. None are always online. Neither do they require me to be online to be functional.

Those pushing for this sort of “innovation” continually point to the fact that many people spend a great deal of time on the internet as an indication that the public is dying to purchase a console that requires an always-on connection, even though no console has ever required that in the past. If this half-assed assumption/analogy fails to do the job, they trot out several others. Rob has answers for each and every one of these industry-tropes-in-the-making.

“Steam requires an internet connection.”

Even Steam which is for the most part like a rock, that falls on its arse occasionally. Thing is, if Steam falls on its arse occasionally then that’s OK because I don’t need to be connected most of the time providing I’ve got a nice offline mode to rely on.

“Your phone always needs to be ‘connected.'”

My phone is always on, yeah. And there’s loads of times where I can’t use my phone because the signal drops, the phone goes a bit bonkers for some reason, I’m in a lead lined shed like I think our local Asda is or something. I dunno. Thing is, my one big “always on” device has more time where I can’t use it than anything else I own. This is something to aspire to? Something that’s not always functional like my phone?

“Cable/DSL? That flows right into your house like water from a tap you can’t shut off, right?”

Always on, except when it isn’t. No one has 100% uptime. No one. Even the services behind these consoles, like Xbox Live, experience downtime. What then? A console that needs to connect to play a game is effectively shut down because the underlying platform is undergoing routine maintenance/hacking.

There’s no comparison that results in 100% uptime, or any percentage that’s going to satisfy someone who’s just shelled out $500 for a paperweight that contains all the hardware and software to play games but simply won’t unless something on the other end gives the thumbs up.

I’m not really convinced I want a console that’s as always on as my phone is. I’m not really convinced I want a console that’s as always on as my cable is. Because I want to just be able to play my console. I don’t want to buy into something that has less uptime than what I already have, I don’t want to buy something less likely to let me play when I want.

This is what people are worried about and this is why they’re irate. If a console manufacturer decides to add this requirement to its hardware, it will be going against the wishes of its customers solely to satisfy its own agenda(s). That agenda may be to push its online services harder. That agenda may be to reduce piracy. That agenda may be to cut out the secondhand market. All of these agendas cater to the desires of the manufacture. They do absolutely nothing for the end users.

Ubisoft’s CEO thinks the audience is ready. It’s a bullshit statement. Certain game developers and console manufacturers might be, but the audience certainly isn’t. But it’s more than a self-serving bit of PR speak. It’s a statement of intent.

[W]hen someone says “we think the audience is ready” you can read that as “we’re doing it anyway” really.

Keep that in mind when you hear statements from developers and console manufacturers about the public’s apparently secret love for always-connected devices. Their “read” on the market is nothing more than them signalling a desire to put the customers’ desires dead last.

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Comments on “Attention Game Developers And Console Manufacturers: 'Always On' Is NOT The Same As 'Always Connectable'”

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anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

Of all the entertainment we get Gamers seem to be the only ones who actually dislike piracy of games,well the majority of gamers hate pirates. Watch that change overnight if Microsoft or anyone else makes their console online only.

The last time i pirated a game was 15 years ago, I have just not had the need to pirate games when the second hand market provides me with everything i need.
And if they are trying to destroy the second hand market , they are destroying customers like me, who absolutely refuse to pay $60 for a game. In my mind no game is worth more than $10. Why? because it is something i play once and never again. Why would i pay crazy amounts for something like that.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re:

And yet, the response does nothing to actually punish those freeloaders.

Those who can (and will) find a way around ?always-on? functionality don?t get affected by service outages and a lack of connectivity and whatever else affects an ?always-on? service because those ?freeloaders? don?t need the service to play games.

Those who don?t look for a way around the ?always-on? functionality will have to contend with outages and lack of connections and other such issues because they bought the system and the games fair and square.

?Always-on? connectivity, like any other form of DRM, does more to inconveninence the legal consumer and punish them for the decision to stay on the straight-and-narrow than it does to curb piracy and punish ?freeloaders? for the decision to crack said DRM.

DRM has not, nor will it ever, stop ? or even curb ? piracy in any way. ?Always-on? connectivity won?t get the job done, either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

More like inconveniencing them. Again, talk to the freeloaders about this. It’s sort of like Costco inconveniences you by checking your receipt as you leave. They do it to everyone because some steal. The game companies do it for the same reason, except far more steal. Doesn’t seem to have hurt their business.

Reality Check says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, it’s NOTHING like Costco checking the receipt.

It’s like trying to leave Costco with items you purchased, and having a cop come punch you in the stomach, tazer you, haul you downtown for an interrogation and then 3 hours later drop you off at a random location (tired, hungry and still wanting what you tried to purchase from Costco) with a remark that sounds like ‘all you people steal from Costco, so just because you didn’t do it this time, doesn’t mean you didn’t get what you deserved.’

That is the analogy you are looking for, you monopolistic ignorant Anonymous Coward.

TheBuzzSaw (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Why stop there? I think your analogy is spot on with one minor change. You ALREADY, successfully, LEGALLY purchased stuff from Costco. Those door guards show up at your HOUSE, and THEN beat you to a pulp until you produce a receipt proving you purchased the stuff in your house.

After all, the world is ready.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Quick question – Who are the people who implemented the Always On DRM?
I’m not asking the reason, that’s a different question entirely.
I’m asking who are the guys who said “Put it in”, and then coded it?
Those are the people to blame.

So tell me – why is it sensible for a company to make an online needed console when about one third of the target market won’t be able to use it. I thought these companies existed to make products that people want and sell them. Where’s the sense in the sensibility in making a product that many, many people have said they don’t want, continue to make it anyway after hearing it and then running around afterward wondering why the hell it didn’t sell?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m asking who are the guys who said “Put it in”, and then coded it?
Those are the people to blame.

There’s truth here, although really, the entire company is to blame, not just the developers.

I know from experience that it’s really, really hard to quit a good paying job because they ask you to do something that is legal, but that you find objectionable. That’s more than most people are capable of. Yet, to fail to do so means your hands are dirty, too.

I have turned down quite a bit of work because I had ethical problems with the project. I have quit two jobs for the same reason. Doing so is really scary and difficult.

But, in the end, if you can set your principles aside because adhering to them is really hard, then you never had principles to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m asking who are the guys who said “Put it in”, and then coded it?
Those are the people to blame.

I’m a games programmer by profession. Over the years, I’ve added DRM to several games. Why? Because the publishers demanded it. The developer, my employer, didn’t want to add it as it would damage their relationship with their fans. I, the programmer, didn’t want to add it as it doesn’t bloody work.

Yet nonetheless, DRM was added to the games. Some fans experienced problems, the developers relationship with its fans was damaged, I despaired and, surprise, surprise, it didn’t bloody work: there was no significant difference in the sales with the earlier, DRM-free, versions.

And for the next game? The publishers demand DRM.


So no, it’s not always everyone who says, “put it in,” and no, it’s rarely the people who code it.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We have so much amazing technology to make services that are absolutely amazing. And then the business people come in and say “Yes, but how can we make it a little bit worse to squeeze out a little bit more money?” Note I didn’t say creators, and this isn’t a problem restricted to copyrights or patents (though the maximalists of those groups fall on the same side as the dumb business people).

I’d love to buy ebooks on my Kindle. But with the number of times Amazon has taken books away from people keeps me from doing that. And all the while I’m keeping my money from current authors, I’m enjoying myself by reading free public domain books (see, no piracy). Current authors and their freeloading middle men aren’t getting my money, not because they’re content isn’t good, and not because of piracy, but because they refuse to release without DRM, and want to have control of my devices. So I don’t play their game, and I read The Three Musketeers and Oliver Twise. If Amazon takes those away from my Kindle, I’ll go get them on Less convenient, sure, which is why I’ve been using Amazon so far for my public domain book fix.

The same is true for any digital movie service. I won’t buy digital movies, because they come with DRM. I do buy DVDs, and the first thing I do is rip them to my XBMC file server, and then put them back in the case as a backup. It’s less convenient than what Google, or Amazon could do for me, but I can’t trust them to always give me my content. It’s not always because of those companies. Sometimes it’s because of the copyright holders. I can’t trust them, so I won’t bother with them.

Copyright maximalists hate me. Not because I hate their content, and not because I pirate. In fact, it’s because I don’t pirate that they hate me. I’m fine with consuming content that is their biggest competitor; the public domain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This is a perfectly sensible response to freeloading. And one the freeloaders brought upon themselves and the rest of the world. You’re blaming the wrong guys.”
And this totally won’t end up like it always does, with the freeloaders working around it and the paying customers still dealing with the problems.

Right? Right?

I mean, my copy of Dragon Age would keep booting me because it couldn’t verify my DLC, because someone’s server was run by hamster power. But I’m sure there wasn’t a full working version on the pirate bay or anything; there’s no way someone would have figured out a way to bypass it!

Anonymous Coward says:

See, here’s the thing about citing my phone as an always on device. My phone spends the better part of the day in airplane mode because the building I work in was apparently designed by Michael Faraday, but that’s a separate issue. And you know what? It still only loses the functions that actually require a connection. Kindle app? Still works. Games? Still work. Notepad? Still works.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

Pretty much 99% of Techdirt’s audience is at least in their 20’s. I myself am twenty four years old.
I wonder why you’re calling us 14 year olds. Is it because of that one article where someone else called everyone who was complaining 14 year olds, and was rightfully corrected? Why deliberately repeat that? The only outcome that can possibly serve is to highlight how stupid you are.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

You mean he didn’t used to make things up?

Lol. I’m pretty sure Blue has been making shit up to suit his arguments from the get-go, this one just happened to be easy to prove wrong.

I’ll cut him a little slack on that today though – he’s probably still a little butt-hurt from the ass whooping he received on the YouTube story yesterday.

RD says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

Attention 14-year-trolls: quit trolling websites that discuss tech issues if you don’t have an interest in those issues, leave the basement.

Just don’t post. Your mind and morals will improve without trolling and posting endlessly.

Repeated postings by trolls like you here on the dire problems faced by people who care about technology and copyright pretty much confirm you don’t have any real reason to be here except to shit stir and flame the site and everyone on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

You remind me of Jack Thompson. You, like him, likely suffer from narcissistic personality disorder – you exhibit several of the key symptoms in many of your comments. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: OOTB, you’re ill, please see a professional.

TheResidentSkeptic says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

To begin, I’m not 14. I’m 60.

I’m a real hard-core dyed-in-the-wool CTO who can still out-code most of the 20-somethings in our industry. I own (personally) a Sunfire E20K… and I keep an application server and development environment running at home (In an Antique French Armoire for SteamPunk style points). Can’t get any more hard-core than that. I’ve worked on mainframes, mini’s, dedicated, embedded – and stuff you’ve never heard of. I have done IT from private, local, state, Federal, International and even Military points of view. Been there, done that – and have the bloody t-shirt collection to prove it. Started, Managed, and Sold businesses. I know it from both sides. That qualified enough for you to debate me or at least listen to a different point of view here?

If so, then let’s have some fun.

I am no “freetard” or “pirate”. I don’t believe in it. I own 500+ movies, I go out to movies regularly, I go to concerts (and buy the t-shirts, apparently just to piss you off..), and I enjoy the hell out of culture.

However, the arrogance and stupidity running rampant in “IP” based industries makes me totally understand and relate to the “pirates”. Not the true idiots who really do only want everything for free – I think there is no excuse for that…but back to the arrogance for a minute.

I want to buy a book. “Sorry, it is out of print.. and I am the only one who has authority to print it”. This makes me go get it somewhere else. Maybe a used copy on ebay or the old – or I have to download it somewhere because I can’t buy it. So how about we make the infamous “making available” move to the other side of the argument? If you don’t “Make It Available” for purchase ALL THE TIME, then you lose your “Exclusive right to make and sell copies (Copyright) for a limited time”. This should no longer be a one-way street.

As for the Arrogance+Stupidity principle – “We’re locking it away in the vault”. NO YOU AREN’T. YOU ARE WITHDRAWING IT FROM THE MARKETPLACE. If no one can buy it from you, then I totally agree with your LOST CUSTOMERS getting it from someone else. And I will totally agree with you that it does truly represent a “LOST SALE”.. but it is YOUR FAULT you lost the sale. “Well, just do without”. Oh please – get real, and get a clue.

I’ve yet to lose a book from my shelves. Not so much with my Kindle. Explain that again? I spent money and have NOTHING to show for it but a “lesson learned” – and probably not a lesson you wanted me to learn.

As for culture and “copying”… I suggest you read up on Chuck Berry. He appeared EVERYWHERE in the world – WITHOUT A BAND. He didn’t need one, because EVERY band knew his licks – they had the “abundant” (skill and knew the material) – he had the “scarce” (himself and his showmanship). He sold the hell out of the scarcity by giving away the abundant. but wait – that only works for a few modern musicians who don’t count – right?

Mike may just push all your buttons because he can. Ever think that he words some things certain ways just to taunt you? Mike isn’t right 100% of the time. No one is. He’s a LOT closer than you however.

This is a colorful world. It is neither black nor white. It changes – as does culture, business, and having total control. All evolve (or die). Fisher buggies evolved. The others died. What is your industries choice?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

Nice screed. Now go and look at what is actually being pirated. Very, very little are out of print books or obscure movies. The overwhelming majority is the latest and greatest. But it’s not always available at the instant it’s wanted or the price you can afford. If the problem was just the issue you personally encounter, I don’t the enforcement you see today would be necessary.


Re: Re: Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

Nice screed. Now go and look at what is actually being pirated.

The obscure stuff gets pirated too. There is an entire subculture dedicated to preserving old Jazz works that are sitting and rotting in vaults because labels don’t think that the “property” is worth the bother of printing again.

You are making assumptions based on total ignorance and pulling things straight out of your posterior.

Reality Check says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

And you can’t leave this site alone.. just can’t.

If techdirt were a pretty woman, you’re the old man with a comb-over and brown teeth crouched in the dark with a telescope waiting for your obsession to take out her trash so you can dig through it.

Nick (profile) says:

Re: Attention 14-year-olds: quit playing games, leave the basement.

I can picture it now:

Scene – Daycare center, full of crying 6 year olds

6 YO 1: Wahh, I don’t like Barnie, I wanna watch Teletubbies!
6 YO 2: The big scary purple dinosaur scares me! Waaa!

Enter OOTB stage right, furious

Hey, babies, if you don’t like the show, LEAVE! I don’t understand why you are sticking around in this childish environment!

Looking satisfied with himself, OOTB strides pridefully out of the room. The babies look at eachother, realize he is right, instantly grow out of it, and demand the TV be changed over to Game of Thrones

Oliver Wendell Jones says:

Thin Client Networks did SO well..

I remember when Thin Client Networks were going to save IT departments a hundred jazillion dollars every year by giving everyone a cheap, dumb terminal and letting the servers handle all the work.

I worked for a Fortune 500 company that took everyone’s My Document folder and stored it on a network shared space. It was a great plan up until a thunderstorm knocked out the A/C unit in the server room and suddenly 1,500 employees lost access to all of their files and e-mail. Engineers couldn’t access their CAD drawings, technical writers couldn’t access their documents, scientists couldn’t access their data, warehouse personnel couldn’t access customer orders to pick items, etc.

There are still people who collect and play Atari 2600 systems and original Nintendo Entertainment Systems – new systems that rely on a remote server that may or may not be there next year will have limited potential collector’s value.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Thin Client Networks did SO well..

Well, technically, cloud computing is just a variant of the idea of thin clients (which was just a variant of the old days of centralized computing.)

So, it’s hard to say it’s “failed”, although I think that it won’t end up being the raving success people think. People will eventually remember why the industry worked so hard to get away from that model in the first place.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Thin Client Networks did SO well..

I think that as time goes on, computing will really resemble a hybrid between thin-client and dedicated desktop computing.

A lot of the work will be done by the local device, but things like storage and communication will still be handled by a cloud server.

The thing is, desktop PC’s aren’t going away. Not ever. Things like tablets are already more powerful than a 2000-era Desktop PC, so there will always be some sort of fairly powerful device at the user’s fingertips.

So it makes very little sense to turn a machine like that in to nothing but a dumb terminal. It makes a lot of sense, however, to use local processing power for rendering and heavy data processing, then use remote processing power for data storage and possibly even application delivery.

So my guess is that by 2020, we’ll have a global computing infrastructure that really resembles Google’s Chrome OS model, where applications may live in the web, but the heavy lifting is still done at the local level.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Thin Client Networks did SO well..

It makes a lot of sense, however, to use local processing power for rendering and heavy data processing, then use remote processing power for data storage and possibly even application delivery.

It can, yes, but remote storage and application delivery come with a steep price: loss of control, decreased reliability, and decreased privacy.

I see the future as a variant, though. Third party cloud providers will be used for certain things, but as more people encounter the problems inherent in handing control over to third parties, more and more will operate their own private clouds. You can already buy consumer cloud appliances. Someday, most homes will have such an appliance.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thin Client Networks did SO well..

Right. In fact, I have been looking for a simplified way to sync and share stuff between my desktop and laptop computers – a personal cloud, if you will.

Everything I’ve found so far works just like DropBox: you have to have cloud storage to do cloud sync. What I want is something that automatically synchronizes files between my own PC’s, just like DropBox, but without actually storing files on any computers I don’t own.

Drobo looks like a nice tool for that, but it sure is expensive.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Thin Client Networks did SO well..

There are a variety of open-source solutions that let you set up your own “cloud” in the sense of duplicating one of the main cloudy APIs. You can, right now, make a tiny version of Amazon or Google’s cloud storage services. These are still a bit fiddly, but if you’re a geek of medium or better experience, it’s 100% doable.

Then your existing smartphones and whatnot will work with them just the same as they work with the Usual Suspects.

Jake says:

It’s not being unable to play the game because of flaky Internet and/or the developer’s servers going on the fritz that bothers me so much. No, my problem is that I have a metered connection capped at 10GB a month, after which I get charged ?1 a gigabyte. The latest SimCity gets through what, 120MB an hour? That’s about a tenth of my monthly allowance gone in eight hours.

Ninja (profile) says:

I got an Xbox360 and an Wii. Both have never touched the internet and when I used the Xbox in my network I blocked it in my router because I don’t want any update (when new games – original or not – stopped running I updated it manually). Just because I don’t want to be online to play anything. I don’t buy games for the online excitement put aside World of Warcraft (pretty much the last ‘online only’ game I’ll ever buy).

Also I tend to take my consoles with me on my trips to the middle of nowhere. You usually have electricity in the middle of nowheres I go to but not internet connections. And that’s why I’m not buy any new console or game that requires any internet connection. Oh well, I”ll have to make do with the indie devs.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Or, as I’ve said, there’s a difference between “feature” and “requirement”. I’m pretty sure we’ll see that the talk and leaks about “always on” are referring to a *feature* (that the console *can* always connect to the internet, download updates, look for content, or whatever the heck else it’s supposed to do — what Fearon calls “always connectable”) and not a *requirement* (that the console will refuse to function at all if it is not connected to the internet).

I really think all the kerfuffle is about hearing “always on” and jumping to the conclusion that it’s a requirement.

Of course, I’ve been hopelessly optimistic before. When the facts come out (i.e., when Microsoft officially announces that, yes, they do have a new console), we’ll know for sure.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Have you ever put a game in to play, and then had to sit and wait while it downloaded however many updates were required? Imagine if your console just went and checked for those updates while it was offline, so when you did go to play, the game was ready to go.

Or, you are away from home and hear about the latest game or demo. You go to and queue it up for download (which you can do today), but because your console is off, it won’t actually download until you get home and turn it on. But now, it could do this as you queue it up from the web and be ready to go as soon as you get home.

Those are the best-case scenarios I can think of.

Of course, there’s also the dark side — it will download the latest and greatest ads to display on the dashboard. (Although that could be a relative benefit as well — it will have done the downloading already by the time you turn the machine on, so it’ll be more ready to go.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Have you ever put a game in to play, and then had to sit and wait while it downloaded however many updates were required

Well, no, because I don’t use software that forces me to update stuff. But I understand your point nonetheless.

Your second use case makes a great deal of sense.

This is absolutely a feature I would disable or, if I couldn’t, would cause me to firewall the box off from the net. But I can see how some people might like it now. Thanks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What you mentioned is available through the PS3 (you can queues up downloads and set the console to download updates automatically at a predetermined time interval – although IIRC you need PS Plus for this). However, if I’m not online, I’m not blocked from using the console.

The proposals on the table are to block you from using the console if you can’t get online. That’s where the complaint lies. Show me ads and force me to have the latest updates to play online – this is fine. Just don’t tell me I can’t use my legally purchased software because my ISP decided to have an outage, or because I simply want to play my single player game without having to download 1Gb of updates first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Always on is the same as buying stock

Purchasing anything that requires an always on connection is worthless. I might as well buy stock in the company for all the good it’s going to do me. What happens when they go tits up and the authentication servers are taken offline?

It’s the same reason I hate Steam. I have to buy a game, then download a crack (or cracked copy) just to restore functionality to the stupid thing in the event I lose my connection (for a myriad of reasons) or continuously run the risk going over my monthly cap and incurring huge fines (because America).

Chris Brand says:

Bad enough already

For a very long time, I didn’t even connect my XBox to the Internet. I was quite content to play offline. Now I play online roughly 10% of the time, so that cable is plugged in.

And that *already* leads to problems. Beside the extra time when I “sign in” and it takes forever to go talk to some Microsoft server somewhere, the extra “online” parts of various games mess things up, too.

Mass Effect 3 is the worst. It usually fails to load *at all* if my XBox is online. There’s a bug that means that it doesn’t even time out properly when trying to connect to some server. To actually play the game (offline), I have to disconnect that cable and then start it. To play online, I have to do that and then reconnect the cable.

And I have a pretty reliable, reasonably fast connection. I know that plenty of people here in Canada can’t even get broadband. Not because they can’t afford it or don’t want it, but because there isn’t a company that offers it.

If a new console requires an Internet connection, I just won’t be buying one. I’ll stick with the old console, or maybe I’ll go back to PC gaming.

I honestly don’t understand the attitude of some of these “businessmen”. Rather than “hey, if you have X, you get all these extra additional features”, which is a selling point, they choose “requires X”, which can only turn people away who either don’t have X or don’t want a device that requires it. That’s true regardless of how common X is.

Anonymous Coward says:

it doesn’t matter what the discussion is about, the only way to make the manufacturers of whatever it is understand that they need customers a lot more than customers need them is to stop being taken for mugs. if you’re not happy with something, dont buy it! post complaints and if nothing is done, remain as a non purchaser. also make the manufacturer aware that when you pay out for purchasing something, you are buying that item. you are not just buying a license or the right to use it for a while. again, if the makers doesn’t like it, dont buy it. when there are enough doing the same thing, things will change back from how Sony, as an example, want things to be, or how the USA entertainment industries want to class things, until the next time when they want to alter contracts and TOS to suit the current situation!

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

Great, someone else telling me what I'm ready for

First it was solid foods, then potty training, and now that I’m an adult (with kids of my own…) someone else it telling me what I’m ready for?

How about you let me damn well choose what I’m ready for.

I can see what is next… “Hey, he looks like he’s ready to die, so into the mix he goes and green shakes for everyone!”

Lord Binky says:

It pisses me off that the rumors and hints are testing the waters as to how badly the result would be for them if they go this route. Why? Because they will swap out a little code then say it was all in our heads and that the rumors were completely made up, they would never do such a thing to their customers (no matter how much they want to), and they will pretend to be good while trying to make their critics look bad so the next time they do something stupid, anyone critical of their decision will have less credibility to those unfamiliar with the situation.

Philly G (profile) says:


I think the perfect compromise would be how Starcraft II is set up. Initial connection needed to verify download from someone who purchased a game online, and then whenever it can, connect for updates (and possibly check to see if someone else is sharing their purchased game). I can foresee many connection problems if “always online” happens, including the question to what will happen to people’s games if their internet connection isn’t fast enough to handle downloading every single little thing online.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sadly, it seems in the future when the always online shills shut down their servers and no one can play any of their games, history will look back on this period and think that video games simply vanished around 2008. No one will know why, just that at one time there were games like Doom, Quake, Monster Hunter, Bayonetta, which are all perfectly functional all the way into the near future for the simple reason that people can still turn on the systems they run on and play them regardless of time or age.

But then, as if someone flipped off a switch, all video games made past that point just stopped being playable. It’s probably just as well, the industry is headed toward a much-needed crash and the insolence of publishers to think that the customer will always be around to eat up their filth will only make their impending bankruptcy feel that much better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ad Wizards!

How do you even advertise for this product?

Buy the new GamerThing today!
– See your games networked with that required high speed internet connection you must upgrade to with your local provider!
– Enjoy undetermined hours, maybe even minutes of gameplay as long as your connection and our servers allow it!
– Meet new friends, especially MegaConsumer Electronics, with whom you contractually allow the video and audio recording of all activities that can be captured through our integral WackyCam controller whenever GamerThing is on, or even just plugged in!

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Has anyone ASKED the USERS

Has any game company actually gone out there and asked its USERS what THEY want?

It seems that before offering a product to the public, manufacturers should actually ask users if they want some sort of always-on DRM or if they want to be able to re-sell and buy used games.

Sure, “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it,” but Capitalism really is a two-way street: you have to give the customers what they want, or they won’t buy it. Isn’t it far better to come out of the gate with something customers DO want, rather than stumble out with something they don’t?

Joel Coehoorn says:


The thing that really bothers me about an Always On requirement is that it depends on a company maintaining a remote service. This costs money, and eventually that service will go offline or “improve” in a way that leaves older devices or games behind permanently.

I have a four year old son, and one thing I really look forward to as he gets older is sharing with him some of the games I played as a child. I know I’m not alone here. I fear he will never get the same chance. All the new games he’ll play will have their servers go dark and cease to function entirely.

I expect that studios are looking forward to meeting this “need” as a chance to re-sell the same games to a new generation, similar to how Nintendo does via the Wii Virtual Console, but this misses in a few ways. First, I don’t want to have to trust the publishers to know that the specific games I enjoyed are the ones they will choose to resurrect. I especially don’t want to re-buy content I’ve already purchased and may still have stored. Most of all, part of sharing these games with my children is sharing the experience… things like blowing into a Nintendo cartridge to clear the dust. Re-release to new platforms doesn’t cover that.

My real fear here isn’t the DRM by itself… it’s that it guts the cultural legacy we leave for our children.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Copyright or DRM: pick one

As debate about copyright reform continues, I think there is a piece that has been overlooked. Remember that copyright is a bargain between the creators and the public. Creators do their thing, and the public gives them the chance (not guarantee) to profit by granting *temporary* exclusivity. Now that “temporary” may actually last for a *long* time, but the key is that it does expire, and eventually the content belongs to *everyone*.

Here’s the deal. DRM breaks that bargain. Content that is only released encumbered by DRM will be lost forever when that DRM service ceases to operate. While there are already exceptions for certain classes of content and archivers, games are a case that are completely left out in cold. But that’s beside the point.

It’s my opinion that choosing to use DRM breaks the spirit of the copyright arrangement. Shipping a product with DRM should immediately void any copyright held on said product. Creators still have the option to try to make a profit. They have just chosen to use DRM *instead of Copyright* to secure their exclusivity. Pick one. You don’t get both.

I’m a reasonable guy, and to be fair I’ll admit that the public broke the agreement first, in the earlier days of file sharing. It’s understandable that publishers started to turn to alternatives to secure rights that should have been theirs regardless. But this is no longer the reality. Much of today’s piracy is the *result* of restrictive DRM, prices that reflect old distribution models, and failure to take advantage of new distribution channels… not to mention extension after extension after extension to copyright terms.

So I’ll say it again: the right solution is not to grant exceptions to archivers to break DRM for preservation. The right solution is to present publishers with a choice: DRM or copyright. Pick one.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Copyright or DRM: pick one

I don’t really agree with that… but I do agree that all works should be available to the public domain after a time.

Here’s my solution: It’s not unreasonable for companies to have to post a key of sorts with some sort of digital escrow company. This would be a master code or software patch that will unlock the DRM on a product. If, after so many years, the company dies or stops renewing the bond, the key becomes available to everyone.

Anon says:

My internet connection works most of the time and the download is fast enough to master even HD vids without too much delay. But it is /not/ stable. Some afternoons it starts switching on and off in 10min intervals in the entire neighbourhood -so how the fuck would I, or anybody else living in the area, be supposed to play always-online games?
Seriously, I miss the good old times when you could play a game as soon as it arrived, running as stable as any other pogram. Just last weekend I got Assassin’s Creed 1 -put it in, 20min installation, ready to go. Compared to the first and only time I tried to play something via Steam; 20min Steam download/sign-up, 10h unasked download of game data (though the discs where RIGHT THERE), 5h unasked download of updates. Now, 3 years later, I cannot access the game anymore because Steam doesn’t recognize the machine (upgraded to Win7, oh no), my e-mail acc is longe gone and I’d have to provide god-knows-what kind of information to prove that I really am the owner of that fucking account.
Thanks but no thanks, as long as it’s still possible, I’ll continue to play modern games (namely everything released after 2009 it seems) on tpb cracks while the brought copies look pretty on the bookshelf.

Anonymous Coward says:


The article compares internet to house utilities? Please. I don’t need internet to survive as I do with water. Internet is luxury and not very reliable. Plus alot of these internet providers are placing caps in place. Last time my electricity went out was more than 5 years ago. Last time my internet went out was a guaranteed once a year and sometimes even more.

Ok so let’s say I need to drop internet because times are rough for the time being. Of course I’m stuck with a video game console paper weight. I can understand if a certain game is online only like World of Warcraft but even so I don’t buy many of them either. But to play a single player game needing to be online? Please. I don’t need to be online to watch a movie dvd or to listen to a song. I shouldn’t need to be able to online to play a single player game. My table doesn’t need internet to be able to use it. Of course I won’t get online or do updates but I can still use it.

I’m paying for my ISP and I will use it how I like. Just like how I do with my water and electricity. You game companies want always on? Tell you what. You pay for my ISP then I won’t care.

Bottom line I am tired of companies trying to tell me what or when I can use or do things on their own time. I bought it and should have a right to do whatever I please to do with it. If I want to burn something I bought, then it is my right.

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