It’s been a while since I’ve done an opinion post, and this week we’ve got some frustrating news about the possibility of an always online Xbox console. For some people, this isn’t a big deal. For many, many others, it is. Always Online is NOT something that works. It’s not something that has worked many-a-times, and it’s something that not only isn’t worth it, but it’s a big hassle for everyone. Even if you don’t care too much about it and are always online anyway, I can almost guarantee there will be a time where you can’t connect for one reason or another. Earlier this week, Adam Orth (Microsoft Studios creative director) shared his opinion on Always-Online devices. This has led many to believe the Nextbox will be. Here is how the conversation inspiring this post went down (courtesy of NeoGAF):
The first thing I would like to say is this: I have the internet. I have had the internet and I love the internet. However, I offer three major reasons why no video game console should EVER be always online.
1: It will potentially destroy local gaming parties.
I am a tournament organizer for the biggest fighting game community in Maine, and I will say that out of the several events we have hosted over the past two years, maybe one or two had internet. Keyword, MAYBE. Running a tournament or an internet-less LAN will be a nightmare. No tournament organizer, event host, or even big conventions and organizations will want to use the Nextbox to run tournaments, simple.
We have run many fun, successful and memorable community sessions without the internet, and it should BE that way. If they require us to connect to the internet in order to play a local game of Street Fighter, I just won’t have it. At big conventions such as PAX and E3, the internet is horrendous because of the amount of people connected at all times. You think that trying to get a few games playing in Console Free Play or during a tournament will work when you have 75,000 other people connected with their phones, laptops, iPods, tablets, other consoles, and even DESKTOPS? You’ll be lucky if you can even get it to play at all.
2: Not everybody has internet all the time.
But if someone buys this console, they will have access to the console all the time. In the twitter discussion, you can see that they talked a bit about how they discussed how vacuum cleaners require electricity to function, and relates spotty internet to the power going out. The difference here is that the vacuum cleaner REQUIRES electricity to run. An Xbox console should not REQUIRE internet to function. It doesn’t NEED internet. A vacuum cleaner literally will not function without some form of electrical power.
Not only that, but some people have jobs where they move around, travel, or are stationed somewhere. We have troops overseas that LOVE playing Halo when they have downtime. Some of them DO NOT have internet. Not only does it help them relax, and if anyone deserves to unwind after a long day’s work it’s a soldier who had been in an extremely stressful moment of his life while on duty. Some people move around a lot and bring their Xbox from place to place. It would literally be a useless paperweight if they stayed anywhere without internet, with internet they could not access or with spotty internet.
3: SimCity, Diablo III
This was also mentioned in the twitter conversation. These are two PERFECT examples of why this is a terrible idea. SimCity is published by Electronic Arts. Diablo II is published by Activision. Both companies are major publishing companies and if any third party developer could get servers to handle first-week launches, it’s them. Guess what, they didn’t. Both games were complete and utter disasters when they launched. They literally didn’t work for the majority of players. This is what could and probably would happen if Microsoft actually did decide to take the Always-Online route.
Imagine getting home after waiting in line outside your local game distributor waiting to get your hands on the next Xbox at launch with a slew of exciting new software to play. After waiting all night (possibly longer if you’re insane) you finally get your impatient little fingers on this slick new piece of hardware you’ve wanted for the past year and a half (or more if you’re impatient). You rush home going 50mph in a 25mph because the risk of getting pulled over is TOTALLY WORTH the reward of playing that new console just a few minutes earlier. You bust into your house faster than you ever have before, fumble the wires around while plugging it all in, toss in Halo 5 and get ready to have the time of your life…
And then the servers just aren’t working, so you can’t actually play the device you just spent $500 on. You try again tomorrow, same problem. Three days from then, same problem. A week later you’re finally able to play the campaign for Halo 5! The campaign. SOMETHING YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO PLAY OFFLINE, BUT YOU CAN’T BECAUSE OF THIS STUPID AS SHIT REQUIREMENT.
This summarizes my feelings for Always-Online devices that don’t need it to operate. It’s just a bad idea and will ruin things for many, many people. Over 50% of America lives in rural locations, many of which have spotty internet at times. It’s even a bad business idea for Microsoft since it’s such a massive turn off for so many people.
Adam Orth really needs to remember: when you’re an important figure in a massive community that is generally always watching (Gamers in the gaming community), you cannot, and I repeat, cannot do this kind of thing in social networking. It’s immature, irresponsible, and completely in bad taste to joke when people are anxiously awaiting your next product.
Always Online = Tragedy.
End of story.