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Durango's 'always on' likelihood irritates players and devs alike
Durango's 'always on' likelihood irritates players and devs alike
April 5, 2013 | By Mike Rose

April 5, 2013 | By Mike Rose
Comments
    83 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Rumors have been circulating for months now that the next iteration of Microsoft's Xbox games console will require an "always-on" internet connection -- that is, the console will need to be constantly hooked up to the internet to grant users access to the hardware's features, including the playing of games.

Allegedly leaked "Durango SDK" screenshots and unnamed sources have previously signalled a games console that will not only require a constant internet connection, but actively block second-hand sales via the same technology.

Now these rumors have been given a little more traction, as Adam Orth, creative director at Microsoft Studios, took to Twitter last night to question why an "always on" future is such a bad thing.

Although Orth's tweets have since been protected, a NeoGAF user captured his messages. While the Microsoft executive didn't confirm that Microsoft is exploring always-on functionality for its next console, his words are the closest we've come to hearing the company's thoughts on the matter.

He began by making comparisons with other devices, stating, "Sometimes the electricity goes out. I will not purchase a vacuum cleaner. The mobile reception in the area I live in is spotty and unreliable. I will not buy a mobile phone."

He continues, "I want every device to be 'always on'... Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console. Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in." This is followed by the hashtag "#dealwithit".

As expected, many devs and gamers challenged Orth, with BioWare's senior gameplay designer Manveer Heir asking the Microsoft exec, "Did you learn nothing from Diablo III or SimCity? You know some people's internet goes out right?"

Orth reiterated his previous electricity argument, to which Heir added, "You've lived in LA, SF, Seattle... very connected places. Try living in Janesville, WI or Blacksburg, VA."

"Why on earth would I live there?" Orth answered.

Other developers weren't so keen on Orth's comments either. Indie dev Rob Fearon tweeted, "Do Microsoft always leave their vacuum cleaners on? I don't understand."

"What completely weird arguments," he added. "I don't buy a phone from a provider who doesn't give me good coverage, I don't leave my hoover on always. And all my modern devices are always connectible, which is markedly different to 'always on' because they don't rely on internet."

Elsewhere, QWOP developer Ben Foddy noted, "People are asking the wrong questions about always-on. It's not 'what if my internet drops out?' - it's 'why do they want me to be connected?'"


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Comments


Ian Fisch
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People need to relax. This is NOT going to happen.

The console market is all about getting hardware in peoples' houses so you can make money off the software. Nobody is going to shoot themselves in the foot by gimping their hardware this way.

This is just like the rumor that Sony was going to block used games on the PS4. Didn't happen.

Ian Brown
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Whether a console is 'always online' or not, the comments themselves are simply astonishing.

E Zachary Knight
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While the blocking used games on the PS4 was a rumor, it did gain some aspect of validity when a Sony patent surfaced that sought to protect just such a technology. While that rumor did turn out to be just that, it was still a possibility when faced with the evidence and no word from Sony.

Could an always online XBox 720 be nothing but a rumor despite this Twitter rant? Yes. But this rant does provide more fuel for the rumor in the meantime.

Dave Long
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My money is that Microsoft were planning this, but will shift course given the widespread discontent over the issue (here's hoping they do!) If they don't, it will be a very brave move on their part. Unfortunately, I think the evidence is a bit too strong in support of the rumour (multiple, independent sources pointing in this direction) to completely dismiss it. However, I also think Microsoft aren't insane, and will change course.

Ian Fisch
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@Dave

I'm sorry but it just makes no sense.

This is the same company that released the Kinect and the Xbox Arcade edition - two products directly aimed at casual users.

To make their next console only for tech-savvy users would be an abrupt about-face.

Randy Overbeck
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But that is just it. They are going after the cable box. They really don't care about games. They want to be the family-room media box.

I think the gamble is going to be a big loser, but we shall see.

Doug Poston
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Just going by this article, it looks like Orth needs some customer relationship training.

I wouldn't want to live in a town with crappy internet access, but not everybody can choose where they live based on how it effects their video game console purchases. ;)

Miroslav Martinovic
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I think some social and economical education and overview of the state of the world would be much more useful because then he wouldn't even have to lie about his opinions as his opinions maybe actually wouldn't be stupid.

John Teymoorian
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Honestly the tone in his comments don't come off offensive. Everyone's entitled to an opinion. Not everyone is going to try to say things that makes the general populous happy or shut up on the web. I think people just want something to fuss about.

Jacob Germany
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His comments are extremely offensive. He comes across as being a poster boy for privilege. "Why on earth would I live there?" "Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in."

Ignoring the privilege, his statements are just ignorant. What does a vacuum cleaner have in common with a console? What phone stops playing apps if the connection is lost? Empty justifications for something that is clearly meant to be, if true, a DRM-based attack on second-hand sales.

Nick Harris
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I think his phony argument sucks.

Brian Tsukerman
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Rather poor analogies on Orth's part, not to mention the blatant thoughtlessness he has for non-urban customers.

As Rob Fearon points out, the marketing term of "always on" belies the actual behavior, which is "useless unless online" as opposed to "always connectible." Even my mobile phone doesn't NEED internet or mobile data access for me to play the games I have on it. It just let's me connect my scores to the leaderboards.

Then again, if Microsoft sticks with it, it will be a great experiment to see how always-on DRM affects hardware sales, as opposed to software sales in the cases of Diablo III, SimCity, and Ubisoft.

Dan Jones
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I've got to admit, the curious part of me does hope they'll stick with it, just so we can see what happens. We can all speculate about how big a deal it might (or might not) turn out to be, but it would be fascinating to see it actually play out on such a huge scope as the launch of the follow-up to a super-successful console.

Doug Poston
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I have the feeling both Microsoft and Sony have plans for always on DRM, but they're both waiting to see what the other company is going to do first.

It would be suicide to release a console that had basically the same features and price but had an extra requirement.

If the PS4 has always on DRM, or Microsoft can release a console at half the price, then they might require it. Otherwise they'd be DOA (IMHO).

Magnus Soderberg
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For me "always online" is not really a problem but then again i live in Sweden where you got good connection almost everywhere. What i do not like though is the blocking of second hand sales.

Vitor Menezes
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This all reeks of misdirection, or at least a horrible misunderstanding of why this makes people unhappy.

"People don't like this feature. They should deal with it and get with the times."

Seriously?

Amir Sharar
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Mr. Heir clarified that their back and forth is sometimes candid and so people may look into the "why would I want to live there" comment without realizing it wasn't completely serious.

That said, it is an anti-consumerist move if it is true.

I can appreciate the benefits of having an always connected console, with seamless auto-updates and the instant streaming of content.

But the moment it interferes with my enjoyment of my purchased game discs, I have an issue.

DRM of digital content shouldn't be an issue either, XBLA and Steam handle past digital purchases without a connection just fine.

I do see some people over-reacting, and some being hypocritical about it, but I think the general mood is justified.

Lance McKee
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Dear Batman,

I feel like I'm turning into a grumpy old man or something. I don't seem to see the benefits of an always connected console or automatic updates. In fact, every time any of my devices or games start downloading an update I find myself thinking, "Ah crap, what's going to stop working this time?"

Again, I know I must just be missing something and going through the usual "Back in my day..." crap that people go through as they age, but I really miss the days when people finished making stuff before they started selling it. I also miss knowing that a game I purchased will still be playable down the road if I wish to play it again. I occasionally get the urge to play Super Metroid or some other classic game and I really like that I can put that game into its console and know that both items are still what they were when I purchased them and that they will still work together perfectly.

Almost every game I've purchased over the past couple of years has felt unfinished at the time of purchase and has gotten increasingly sluggish and buggy as both the game and the platform it runs on receive update after update.

Sorry, one last thing - what am I doing wrong with my XBLA/XBLIG titles? When my connection goes down they all turn into demos.

Jacob Germany
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I actually notice that, too. That updates and the like tend to produce more bugs, not less. Not to mention the problems with software releasing so consistently unfinished now.

Amir Sharar
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Dear Lance,

Thanks for writing! I think the biggest benefit to having auto-updates is that we'll have a machine that's ready to go anytime we need it. I remember one particular occassion where I brought my PS3, with Warhawk and 4 controllers along with a projector, to a friends house. His internet connection was extremely slow, but we wanted to play splitscreen anyways. But we found he had to update the console. That took a full hour. We then had to update the game, another half hour. At that point, we decided our conversation was pretty interesting and didn't want to interrupt it. Auto-updates would have alleviated this issue.

I completely agree about games being shipped before being stable enough. Though this may have to do with publishers as much as developers (I'm sure some would argue one has more responsibility than the other).

"Sorry, one last thing - what am I doing wrong with my XBLA/XBLIG titles? When my connection goes down they all turn into demos."

This has to do with your Xbox being tied to your GamerTag. You can call MS to have this cleared up, but will have to assign one 360 serial number to your account. When you do so, XBLA games will be available even without a connection. This issue is quite common because the 360 was one of the most unreliable hardware units in gaming history. :) People had to get their accounts switched over to the new console regularly.

XBLIG always requires an online connection, it was MS's way of circumventing ESRB ratings for each and every XBLIG game.

Always yours,
Batman

Lance McKee
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Thank you for clearing that up about the XBLA games, although that does seem rather complicated. My grumpiness still seems to be getting in the way of me understanding any of this though because the benefits you describe of an always-connected console only seem to remedy other symptoms of an internet-dependent console.

I miss the day when I could buy a game console that worked really well, buy games that worked on it really well, and then years later purchase an even better console that worked really well. I can even go back and play the old console and old games when I want and they still work really well.

Throughout a game project it seems like updating your code is kind of a gamble. You have something you need to work on, but every once in a while someone else checks something in that breaks something that will keep you from getting your work done, so you have to scramble a little bit to get things back on track. Everything is changing so rapidly that things are rarely very stable. But toward the end of a major milestone and especially toward the end of the whole project, the teams I've worked on would usually enforce a code and asset freeze to ensure only very carefully monitored changes were added to the project. That way we could get the game working well and not have to worry about some idiot checking in a change that causes more problems than it fixes. This concept made sense to me.

But now that consoles are all connected so much of the time it seems we all got really lazy and figured, "Hey, we can shove whatever the hell we want into a build and ship it because if anything is broken we can just shove out a fix for it tomorrow. And even if that fix breaks something else we can just shove out another fix for that, and so forth!" And then console manufacturers saw that and said, "Wow, we could do that too!" So now when you buy a console, even from a company like Nintendo that used to take the quality of their products very seriously, you have to pretty much cross your fingers every time you turn it on because there's a very good chance a bunch of stuff just won't work anymore.

Kris Steele
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Way to go insulting rural users, that'll really sway people to your thinking. I happen to live near Janesville, WI. Plenty of normal folks live there but they probably didn't want to play video games anyways.

Josh Neff
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Orth's commentary is elitist and out of line... Particularly for someone who is supposed to be an executive. You don’t get the luxury of telling your target audience "deal with it" without repercussions. Were it merely a Microsoft underling or latest hire, this would be a non issue... but that it was indeed someone who has directive authority indicates the general mentality of the company...which appears to be one of insensitivity and disregard to the very people who will determine if the company succeeds or fails. Not smart. This will cost Microsoft.

Alan Boody
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If Xbox is 'always on' and has no trade-in/resale of games, Microsoft is going to get toasted by PS4 and probably even Wii U. This is the market no matter how much Microsoft wants to stomp all over it.

A W
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I'm interested to see Microsoft experiment with this approach. They just might get the public on board with the idea of "always on internet". They did with online game subscription fees and look at how well it work for the brand.

Dave Long
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I'm not so sure about the online subscription fees - I know a lot of gamers who started on 360 but jumped ship to the PS3 because of this, and when I went the other way (got a 360 to play the exclusives on it), the whole 'second class citizen' vibe you get from being on silver is a _huge_ turn off. Getting a 360 is the single largest reason I'll be very unlike to get whatever their Xbox Next is (after always-online, if they actually do this).

A W
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Xbox360 does not have free online service, no ability to play movies on a Bluray disc, and priority external HDD. Yet it still outsells PS3 so there must be some value in having a pay subscription service, given that most of the CoD FPS online gaming fans play that game the most on that service. I expect Microsoft model of always online DRM gaming to go over well if the good outweighs the bad (OMG TEH GRPHIX AND PHYX IS hotter because of ALWAYS ONLIN!!!). Unless the gamer is ready for a change and is really fed up with Microsoft's shenanigans, I just don't see the monumental shift outside of internet forum trolling and hate. Maybe their has been a shift in the last 6 months (PC for online, Xbox for exclusives), but I just don't see it as being much of a problem for Microsoft if they decide to go this route with always online.

Phil Maxey
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Every device I own from the past 5 years is connected to the net, so I have no issue with this at all. The future is always connected and content being downloaded and/or streamed, so always on just seems obvious.

Jacob Germany
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Luckily, every single potential customer is exactly like you. Also, Diablo 3 and Sim City had absolutely no launch problems, and no server has ever been shut down for older games, so clearly those issues, being completely nonexistent, will not be inevitable problems for an always-on console.

Phil Maxey
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I play Black Ops 2 on the Xbox, and frequently have connection and lag issues, and so what? checking emails can be slow as well does that mean I should stop using email? The advantages that come with using a continious connection far outweigh the disadvantages.

The only way the server/connection issues are going to be sorted out is if we push for ever greater use of that connection.

If you want to stay in the past that's fine, but I think MS recognise things have moved on and we live in an always connected world.

Jacob Germany
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You wait in line on launch day, your heart swelling with excitement reminiscent of your childhood memories of Christmas morning. You drive home with your XBox Durango and Black Ops 3 in hand, trying not to speed so much you get pulled over. You rush into your home, set up the console, set up your profile and... wait in a queue because the servers are overloaded. You wait an hour, and you're still waiting. Finally, after two hours, you get on! You load up Black Ops 3, it starts downloading an update... so close! You're disconnected. The Durango tries signing in automatically over and over, failing for hours. Days. Tears well up in your eyes. "Santa isn't real! Christmas is ruined! Microsoft is stupid!"


I think you're woefully confused. "The advantages that come with using a continious connection far outweigh the disadvantages."

There ARE NO ADVANTAGES. Any advantage gained from having a console REQUIRE an internet connection can be gained from simply being ABLE to connect at all times. Any disadvantages that comes with the requirement, whether by design (no second hand games, all games locked to profile, no traveling with your console) or by accident (launch day servers overloaded, Christmas day servers overloaded, giant AAA release day servers overloaded, cost of broadband, lack of reliability of connection) are exclusive to a console that requires the connection.

I had a 360 in an office used to see children at my job. I did not want, did not need, and could not afford an internet connection for many years. An always on console would have been useless in that situation.

Nearly every family that I see in my job, the family could theoretically afford or receive as a gift from some family a single $250-ish console as a means of a primary entertainment device for the children that's robust and heavily used. The same could not be said for a monthly plan from some service provider for years and years.

It's not "staying in the past", but "being aware of the present". Unlike what Orth claimed, broadband connections simply are not at the level that electricity is in the U.S., or the world. How could it be? It's very, very new, while other utilities have many decades of a head start.

This is simply a case of privileged perspective. You have one.

Phil Maxey
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I think we all have to wait and see exactly what will be required in regards to the new console being always connected, because obviously it can mean many things.

I'm not exactly sure how the view that an always on connection can be a positive is a "privileged perspective". Having a decent broadband connection shouldn't be seen as a "privilege", to suggest that it is really is living in the past. I lived in a time where there was no internet, no mobile phones etc I know exactly what it's like to live in a world where the internet and a "fast" internet did not exist, and I can tell you it sucked :) My personal view is that everything should be connected, and connected with the fastest connections possible. Multimedia devices are an obvious fit for having a fast and yes always on connection.

Of course pretty much no matter where you are the internet still goes down, the infrastructure still is not at the same level of reliability as say electricity supplies, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be, in-fact I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be.

There has to be a need, a demand for always on services to push the industries to improve the technologies involved. I'm not sure what I see as your view of the way forward? that advanced multimedia technologies shouldn't take advantage of the latest communication technologies in their design? that they themselves can be cutting edge, but how they communicate should still be based upon 40-50 year old tech?

We need the latest devices to use the latest methods to communicate. Only this is going to create the demand needed to put pressure on governments and companies to improve the infrastructure.

Jacob Germany
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You seem to be suggesting that devices should be able to always use the internet. They already do. What an "always on" device means is a device that *requires* the internet. This doesn't advance industry or the government, serve the interests of customers, nor even serve the interests of those implementing it, except maybe by restricting second hand sales.

It's a privileged perspective to assume everyone has access to what you have access. As for the supposed benefits of a device that requires an internet connection, can you name one? Anything at all that such a device offers that our current generation does not, despite being able to be online constantly?

Miroslav Martinovic
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Well, every device that I own, and ever owned, was and is perfectly capable of fully funcioning on its own, without connection to internet, and I'd like it to stay that way, mainly because there is no reason for it not to stay that way. I buy devices... in fact, generally, I BUY ANY STUFF, because I want to have it available for use ANYTIME I decide I want to use it. If someone tells me to buy something that I cannot use in certain circumstances, for no reason that would make sense, I'll ask him whether he's sincerely stupid, or just trying to rip me off.

Imagine a car you couldn't drive unless the radio was on, and recieving a clear signal of some radio station, just because the manufacturer decided so. Would you buy it? Wouldn't it seem silly, absurd and stupid? And if someone told you that "well, everyone pretty much listens to radio all the time while driving, so what's the fuss about? It's better this way, too, I like it more.", wouldn't it be a rage-worthy thing?

Also: here where I live (central europe), people are used to the idea "oh, internet went down again? okay, I'm gonna play some games until it's back up". Which is, in my opinion, entirely reasonable, and pretty natural, for many people. Now you want me to buy a console which I can't use in this way. Why? Because someone said so. No other reason. NOT a SINGLE REAL TECHNICAL reason why the console couldn't be just a normal, sane, connectible device that is perfectly fine with being offline too. What if I wanted to embed the console in my car, so passengers in the back could play? or in my trunk, so I could play literally anywhere? No can do? Why? Because someone said so literally for no reason.

"Hey, did you hear about retractable bridges through rivers? Pretty cool idea, huh? People and cars can use them, but it can retract so it doesn't block large ships. Offcourse the people can't pass through it when it's retracted, but they get why it's useful and makes sense, so they are not angry."
"Yeah, it's awesome, I'm gonna implement some in my city too."
"...but your city doesn't have rivers, what use would you have for any bridges whatsoever?"
"THAT DOESN'T MATTER! I WILL BUILD A RIVER IF I NEED TO! I WANT THE ABILITY TO RETRACT THE BRIDGE TO HAVE MORE POWAH OVER THE PEOPLE! WHY WOULD ANYBODY BE ANGRY ABOUT THAT? STOP BEING STUPID! EVERYONE LOVES BRIDGES!"

Carlo Delallana
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There's many things to debate but one thing's for sure, Orth makes terrible analogies.

Ardney Carter
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He's like a shark: he just...keeps making analogies.

Bart Stewart
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I believe the negative reactions to comments like these -- including Lucy Bradshaw's "it's our vision" defense of an always-connected requirement -- actually come from three perceptions combined:

* "Let them eat cake" cluelessness ("only Southern hicks and flyover country rubes don't have great DSL, and they don't buy our games anyway")
* Arrogance ("our vision is more important than what a few ignorant gamers say they want")
* Dishonesty ("of course always-connected is primarily a DRM tool, but we can't admit that")

Any single one of these public perceptions would be a PR problem, but it might be handled. It's the combination that's outrageous.

Lance McKee
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Actually I'm excited for this. Earlier this week my connection went down for a couple of days and all the games I'd purchased on my Xbox 360 magically turned into demos. It was very confusing. I thought, "Man I wish Microsoft would release a machine that could just make these games completely unplayable. That would make so much more sense!"

For some strange reason people seem to be expressing a bit of interest in some of these new Android based, indie focused consoles being released this year, despite the fact that big budget titles from major publishers are constantly increasing in popularity. I've been starting to worry about the future of Microsoft's new offering, but these latest details of their business strategy have definitely put those concerns to rest.

Lincoln Thurber
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Last time I looked, SimCity's issues were all about EA/Maxis servers, not consumers connections. It not "my connection" I worry about, it is too few servers at launch or bad load planning. I worry about launch days for games being FUBAR because a publishers wanted to save a few bucks or planned poorly.

If Microsoft's "plan to fly" is to hurl themselves at the ground...and miss...well good luck to them. I think they are delusional; however, perhaps the XBox-Next runs with a "Somebody Else's Problem Field" always on too.

Alexander Womack
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He must be their prototype "genuine people personality" that comes pre-installed on each 720.

Achilles de Flandres
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Controversies aside... am I the only one who found it odd that Janesville, WI and Blacksburg, VA were specifically mentioned? Aren't those the home towns of Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor?

Dane MacMahon
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The internet is pretty much always on when I want to game, but this is not about some generic internet check. It's a server connection, a server that will have down time, problems staying up under high demand and perhaps most importantly will shut down someday and kill all my purchases.

No thanks.

Casimiro Barreto
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Now you touch the crucial point: "servers that will shut down someday and kill all my purchases". That's the gist of the "authenticate on start" issue of XBox 720 problem...

Michiel Hendriks
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Does always-on also apply to the DRM servers Microsoft is going to run? Or do we have to "deal with it", when they are turned off in 5 years?

Jonathan Murphy
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MS won't do it. Why? Because MS is all about copying their competitors... cough Motion Controls. Also around 40% of gamers? Maybe less do not have an internet connection. This would easily slash their sales by 25%. Thus they won't do it.

How about some positive rumors? Remember those days when we looked forward to next gen tech? Let's stop copying the American Press with all this fear mongering drama.

Jorge Ramos
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Well, on the 720 all I've heard about is the always-on requirement.

On the sony side, all the BC on the hardware is being killed off (when sony has no reason to do so), and will pretty much pester me endlessly to "share [inane gaming task here] on Facebook/Twitter/SEN/et al", neither of which I really care for.

All that hoopla Sony made about an unveiling and they wouldn't even show us what the freaking console looks like.

As it is, the only console that actually seems to be sensible about the next-gen IS the WiiU.

Kujel Selsuru
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@James that's because Nintendo is a games company and nothing else, they aren't trying to push other products and/or services on us!

Jarod Smiley
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@Jorge Ramos why do people keep saying Sony didn't show the box? It's not ready or there are just saving some reveals for closer to launch? I fail to see why/how this is some kind of negative, I didn't want everything to be shown at the PS meeting and e3 be re-runs of information we already know.

and b/c is not there because of Cell and crazy Ken, there's legitimate reasons for it not being in the default unit, to please early adopters, Sony should offer a PS4 with both hardware bundled, but even that is not likely. For a company that is constantly in the red, and really needing to shrink and become more nimble, I have to applaud SOny with the PS4 pitch, architecture and there general enthusiasm towards gaming/indies.

I think a fan of games should be able to see Sony is hitting some good bases recently.

Jorge Ramos
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@Jarod Smiley

That's because they didn't show the console. They didn't show what the PS4 actually looked like. The only conceivable reason I could think of to WHY they didn't show the console is because they (rightly should) remember the last time they showed a 'preview' of the PS3 and then compared it to what they sold in stores and pointed to all the 'LIEs' in the form of missing ports; they probably don't want a re-run, which is admittedly a wise move if it were for that. But Sony showing the console and NOT the system suggests they don't really have anything TO show.

If Sony was going to have such a hard-on about giving us a neutered unit from launch, then why did they bother keep the controller so similar? Up until this "big (non)reveal," there were even claims that the controller would feature a Vita-style format, no doubt aping the WiiU directly. Streaming games doesn't count because it still means all those hard-earned titles I paid for are not playable on this new system. It's like the only way Sony sees fit to "dominate the living room" is to crowd your TV to the point that there are no inputs to spare for any other competing systems.

PS1 and PS2 emulation can already be done and done pretty well on x86. And Sony owns all the IP rights to the hardware in each generation of PlayStation, so they could very easily write some kick-ass software emulation to run on their next system to assure BC was a non-issue. The only reason I jumped on board with the PS2 so early in my case was because the BC allowed me to play all my games at the time on one system. One reason I would never want a (super)slim PS3 now is because it is so feature-neutered compared to the CECHA/B models that I know I would never be happy with it.

I still haven't forgiven Sony for Krazy Ken, or Kaz for following his playbook to a tee. So even if I were interested, I'd likely buy my PS4 second-hand. I'd been burned too many times on Sony's legendarily awful hardware reliability... which paradoxically makes a system that can "do it all" all the more valuable.

Eric Adams
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Simple axiom I live by for expressing my views on gaming to the public. I will express my opinion until my net worth exceeds 10 million dollars. :-)

John Maurer
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The guy seems to underestimate the how competitive the next gen is going to be. He also superbly demonstrates the breadth of the disconnect between game development excecutives and the consumers they cater to. I guess Micosoft can afford the elitist mentality, they've definetly got more than one billion dollar venue so they can just keep throwing money at it, but I know I'll pass on the Durango. Only reason I even own a Xbox 360 is because of Fable, and that IP started losing its appeal to me at part 2.

I didn't know DLC titles on the Xbox would turn into demo's when no internet connectivity is available, I only ever buy DLC games on PSN. (Via store bought cards, for obvious reasons) Weither I'm connected or not, they just work. If the "always on" feature is true, looks like Sony just found their angle of attack.

Jorge Ramos
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Even if there was a mass of really fantastic titles at absurdly low prices at launch, it's safe to say I am not touching either the PS4 or the 720 until this DRM mess is sorted out.

Sure, Xbox Live is a selling point since the original Xbox, but it was never the reason I wanted an Xbox to begin with. And it was also the fact that I didn't need to have to have an account or be online that got me into finally buying the 360 when I did, because I simply did not want to pay that kind of money for the hardware and then be unable to use it because of some arbitrary "MMO fee" as I saw it. It was then the toxic environment that was the Xbox Live community that convinced me not to bother renewing, either.

Poking around on some various links about this PR mess, and at least reading up from accounts of people that claim to know him personally, it seems this guy really is this dense... and the fact that Microsoft hired him and so far let him spew this nonsense is about the best we can expect from an explanation of how the console handles things.

I can also say quite simply, if they really do go forward with this, it will likely paint a big fat target on the back of their proverbial heads, as there will be some hackers who will then make it their mission to break this DRM. And you'll likely see more hacked consoles sold with the selling point that "doesn't need to be always-on" to play. I can tell you simply that one of the things I do to 'deal with' an internet outage is to fire up some offline games... if the console won't even let me do that, it either will get returned t hat same day to the store or it will get sold off to someone else that wants to deal with that BS.

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Michael Stevens
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I'm no fan of DRM, and the rumored inability to play used games and lack of Japanese presence would be complete dealbreakers for me, but I have no problems at all with an "always on" Xbox.

Online multiplayer, Xbla, and Live are the parts of the Xbox that make it worth owning. Without the internet, this gen is not as compelling as the ones that preceeded it. $60 for a five hour campaign? Why would you bother? In most games you'd be bugging patchless and missing half the content. It's a reasonable position given the sort of content that suceeds on their platform. While I'm sure the root of it is a desire to sell more Live subscriptions and push streaming content even harder, I think it's also fair for them to say "This is the experience we're selling you". I don't think that's anti-consumer, even speaking as someone who has an "always off" PC.

(additionally, It wouldn't surprise me if they use their Live subscription model to offset the cost of pricing the new console competitively. It could be $100 cheaper than a ps4 if it requires two years of Live subscription, with "always on" being that carrot's stick. Double additionally, it wouldn't surprise me if the next step in their war on Apple was to just have the Xbox be "the thing the internet comes out of". Why would that ever be off?)

Brian Schaeflein
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As a Chicagoan, I can attest to the fact that it's not just country bumpkins who have shoddy internet / electricity. 4th largest city on the continent, but I'd be tickled silly if my net connection didn't blink out randomly every couple days. The number of times I've called Comcast and AT&T, I actually got onto a first name basis with a couple techs.

But please, by all means, limit my gaming experience to the reliability of these 3rd parties. Because, you know, when my internet goes down, and I actually would like something fun to distract me, I won't want to play on your console. I'll just go back to reading books.

Val Reznitskaya
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Whether or not it's likely, I'm more worried about what might happen if they do go this route and actually succeed. If consumers do eventually just "deal with it" and accept that this is the way things should be, what's next?

Kujel Selsuru
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That is a very scary possibility and one which I'm not interested in supporting.

Nick Harris
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"If the connection is interrupted then after a period of time -- currently three minutes, if I remember correctly -- the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started." - unnamed source.

This is a good thing. Would you rather wake your Xbox 1080 to resume playing The Elder Scrolls VI only to discover that your 'always-on' console had lost its internet connection and it was waiting for you to enable the network troubleshooter, explicitly sign in to the last used profile and then do a system update and then a Bethesda patch before you could get back into your mythical adventure. The whole point of this concept is to spare you onerous housekeeping. Unlike the PS3 it won't waste your entertainment time downloading updates as it will already have done so in the middle of the night. If its internet connection goes out it will keep trying to get it back as it knows it needs it for updates and probably, Steam-like game downloads.

You will be using online for chat, twitter, facebook, skype, netflix, youtube, iplayer, 4oD, xbox live marketplace and multiplayer. Surely, you want to be able to wake it and jump into a match in the next Battlefield game in mere seconds, rather than futz around with fixing your connection manually.

You will be able to run second-hand games just as you can on the 360, but they will have to be inserted in the Blu-ray drive to prove that you still own them. It is only the next-generation 1080 titles that only install once from their Blu-ray with the aid of a code-key, but as far as the Xbox LIVE Marketplace is concerned it makes no difference if it had just been downloaded instead. Disc installation is just a convenience for those with ISP broadband usage caps, although anyone rich enough to afford a next-generation console ought to be able to afford Unlimited Broadband to go with it - so many of its features rely on increased data traffic that it would be silly to even contemplate getting one with the intention of restricting your use of it.

Once the game is installed the Blu-ray does effectively become a beer mat, but the Marketplace has at this point registered your ownership of that title to your profile (not the physical console, which could break), so you are free - as you currently are on the 360 - to delete downloaded games and later download again for free as it knows that you have paid for them.

I would have been quite happy to not even have a DVD drive in the Xbox 1080. I plan on getting one as well as keeping my 360 plugged into another input of my HD TV. Microsoft could have gone all digital like Apple and I wouldn't have missed discs one bit. I hate the horrible plastic cases, the lack of accompanying manuals you get these days, the nub in the centre of the case that scratches the disc up, the policy of bricks and mortar stores to separate a supposedly brand new disc from the safety of its shrink-wrapped case in order to put it in a cardboard sleeve behind the counter (only to scratch it as the dumb assistant spirals it onto the nub). No, I fondly remember the immediacy of cartridges and am only prepared to accept HDD storage as a substitute.

Imagine a scenario where you've just bought The Elder Scrolls VI on Blu-ray for the Xbox 1080. You won't be able to install it unless you can get online as the Marketplace needs to recieve the code-key to unlock it and add the game to the list of those it knows are bound to your profile. Perfectly reasonable as the upside is that you can delete it and download it again for free, your 1080 can break and you don't lose any installed games as they aren't solely on the HDD, but they exist as games Microsoft know you've paid for on their servers, so it is easy to just download your collection to your replacement console for nothing - assuming that you have an Unlimited Broadband connection of course.

The Elder Scrolls VI has installed and can be jumped in and out of with the same convenience as an iOS app, with the game remembering where you left it without having to mess about managing similar looking save files or struggling to reach some arbitrarily defined checkpoint where it is safe to 'save & quit'. Microsoft copy Apple all the time and there is every indication that this is the reason that they are transitioning to digital installs to a HDD in order to make disc-swapping a thing of the past. Now the internet goes out, this would appear not to be a problem as it is a single-player game however you still have concurrent services running like cross-game party chat, real-time achievements being updated to your profile and Twitter going on in the background. So, it is likely that as the system is awake it won't interrupt play with some big immersion breaking alert, but it may well have an warning orange LED on the console or gamepad to communicate its current disconnected status. All achievements and outbound tweets could be remembered by your local system until contact with LIVE was automatically reestablished. Apart from not seeing a green LED on the console you wouldn't even notice that you had gone offline in a single-player game.

I have read nothing about 'always-on' being for DRM purposes, or that flaky internet will prevent single-player from operating after it has been successfully downloaded / installed and registered. Microsoft obviously want to stop these games from being ripped from the HDD after installation and resold by pirates, but I would imagine that they could encrypt each game so it only worked on that console - each Xbox 1080 would have an EEPROM and only the Marketplace would know which decryption key was on each uniquely identified 1080 sold and what encryption key needed to be sent down to that console once registration had been performed. So, in a way the Blu-ray disc's associated alphanumeric code-key that you'd have to type in would be like a key given to unlock a box within Microsoft containing another key that was sent to your console for it to keep everytime it needed to unlock the box containing the game you had bought. I see no reason why the 1080 need be 'always-online' for DRM purposes after game installation has successfully taken place, on the other hand the vast majority of PS4 games will require 'always-online' due to their reliance on Gaikai cloud servers for the emulation of past PlayStation titles.

Maybe I'm missing something, but on the actual evidence I see no reason for this level of panic. People should worry more about Sony only putting 6GB GDDR3 RAM into the PS4 as the small print under their specification sheet is subject to change and they only need an equivalent amount of free memory to the 1080, which some think uses a collosal 3GB for its OS. Given most games are multiplatform due to the costs of development, it makes sense that a console maker won't put more RAM in their machine than will actually get used. If 1080 games only have 5GB free to work with then Sony's machine could use 1GB for their leaner OS and still hit the same lowest common denominator.

Brian Schaeflein
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TLDR;

For your actual evidence, I point you at SimCity: A single player game, forced always online, where you may not even be able to play without waiting in line.

Joseph Elliott
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If this is true, regardless of any other features, I will not buy this console. It's an affront to the consumer that I cannot abide.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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I think using Sim City and Diablo III (doesn't this game still have like a million people logging on everyday or week? Not sure why that's an example of always-on failure) are terrible examples of why always on is bad. XBL being up like 99.9% of the time, supporting 30 million devices, and not shaking even when a few million people suddenly flood the system for the latest CoD is a way better example of how always-on will likely play out on MS systems imo.

Anyways, I'm down with always on. How many people complaining actually have broadband home internet access and are already connecting their consoles to it automatically? I'd bet that many of you are such tech junkies that you even broadband access available through a mobile network on your cell phone, yet you're coming on here and saying MS asking you to connect a console to the connection you already have at your house and use daily is just a ridiculous concept.

Brian Schaeflein
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There's a difference between "always-on" and "always-connected" though. It is ridiculous to believe that a connection can always be maintained.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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How terrible are you guy's internet connection? Mine is essentially always on and drops less than my power does, which goes out for about a minute every 3-4 days. From the outrage, you'd think the average person's broadband access in the US is akin to using dial-up on a single phone like house with 8 chatty teenagers with no cell phones.

Brian Schaeflein
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I live in Chicago, and yes, it's just that shoddy. And it's not isolated to me, either.

Alex Boccia
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It's more about this "always online" as a supposed service being a front for ludicrous drm and the attempt to kill the used games market. I would have no issues with an always online Xbox if I bought one but hell if I'm going to do that, I don't believe in the philosophy that this console is being created in which is: Microsoft knows best. I have a gaming PC anyway so I've no need for an xbox unless I want to play Halo.

If I only had the choice to buy a console for next generation I would be eyeing a WiiU, unless more information is divulged and solidified regarding the PS4.

Amir Barak
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It's also about honesty and consumer-friendly... As others have pointed out before, always-on and can-always-be-connected-if-wanted are two very different notions. Moving house requires by default not to have an internet connection for a while, which means that the only thing to dispel the boredom are some video games... Or not.

The other question is also whether we need an always-on machine; for which the answer so far has been, no we don't. Whatever happened to putting the disc in and playing a game. Why do I need to connect, to authenticate, to communicate, to download, to then call the company in case something isn't connecting, then check my connection, then call my internet provider, then go and buy a PS4 which I can just use...

There are so many reasons not to have an always-on machine that it's not even funny.

And yes, I currently have a [mostly] stable broadband internet connection. I still connect my machines manually to internet and only when I have to because I have kids and I need to be able to control when and how things are used.

Mario Kummer
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This will be interesting, if the Xbox launches with "always on" due to DRM and prevention of reselling games and Sony does not I expect the PS4 to be the clear winner.

As far as the resell is concerned, they should consider one thing if I can't resell the game, if I can't exchange games with my friends and I can't even give it to my younger brother then the value of the game is drastically reduced. Thats why I don't care for locked in games on my ipad or on Steam. Ipad games are cheap and on steam I buy the games I want when they are on sale for around 19. But I will for sure not pay full price for games that I can dumb into the trash when I am finished with them.

And I wonder what players will do when MS "bricks" their hardware. When the servers are down and no one can play returning the hardware and exchanging it with a new wont help, I assume retail will have a lot of fun.

Lance McKee
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Well it is a little ridiculous to think that just because you purchase a game you should be allowed to play it when you want and maybe even lend it to a friend or give it to a sibling. I remember many times growing up when I'd outgrow a particular toy or something and go to give it to my younger brother, the manufacturer would show up and destroy the toy and tell my little brother to go to hell. Or when I bought my first car, but then they came out with a new model the next year and crushed my car into a cube while I was at work. It seems a little messed up at first, but then it makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Mario Kummer
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I think they also don't know how much business they might loose due to this. When I was young I got around 3 games per year. But I played a lot more. I would not even have discovered Zelda and maybe not bought any successors because I discovered I when I exchanged games with a friend.

And all the cases that we have now SimCity, Diablo, WoW, Steam and other online shops with accounts. I think for them its not too bad, because the people are largely informed how it will be. But when the go mainstream with consoles I expect an outcry of parents when they discover that their children can't exchange with friends and siblings anymore.

Wolf Wozniak
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Severs don't last forever.

R G
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I feel as though the situa-

USER HAS EXPERIENCED SUDDEN DISCONNECTION. PLEASE STANDBY.

Bob Johnson
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Funny how everyone is on the internet complaining about the next XBox always having to be on the internet.

Lance McKee
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I don't know about anyone else, but I've been doing my complaining from a machine that I use for a few minutes to read this site (and complain sometimes!) and then use for hours doing work completely off-line that I will check in when I'm ready or when my internet connection is back up if it happens to be down. The day my PC stops letting me do ANYTHING I bought it for just because my internet connection went down will be a sad day for me.

Eric McVinney
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Funny how everyone is on the internet complaining about the next XBox always having to be on the internet when it should always play games be it online or off.


Crazy world, right?

Mario Kummer
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I think it is not really about being always online. Its more about how the "always on" is used. Although being always on is just stupid for single player games. If mobile games would require "always on" there would also be a lot of complaint. The roaming is too expensive, so when I am abroad the net is always off, and oh wonder oh wonder I still play angry birds or tower defense...

Jarod Smiley
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yea, and there will be replies to this news 2 days, or even weeks after it was actually posted. Always on is the problem, not always connected.

I really don't care for most MS stuff anyway, if there first party doesn't step up with a lot more than Halo/Forza, I'm done with them...Trying to copy Apple too much and make some type of Xbox ecosystem...

-_-

meh...I'll pass

Simon Ludgate
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I'd point out that I can buy an electricity generator and run my vacuum cleaner without connecting it to an external grid. I am entirely able to produce everything necessary to operate my vacuum cleaner on my own.

Can the same be said for an internet-authenticated game console? Unless Orth intends for us to run our own auth servers for closed networks, then his vacuum cleaner analogy falls short.

Jorge Ramos
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Seriously, in such a highly competitive industry where perfectly good people are being turned down left and right and not even being granted a chance to shine, WHY in the name of everything that is hallowed and sacred in our lives does someone like Adam Orth get to have a job in an industry that is about entertaining people?

Why are people like this allowed to be in positions of power? Why are they allowed to HAVE Jobs in the game industry at all?

And if that one user on reddit's account regarding his past is indeed true, why is someone like this being allowed to have a position of authority *ANYWHERE* ? It just doesn't make any sense... I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how this guy landed a job like this.

Eric McVinney
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Simple. He knew someone who also knew someone who only heard of the good things about this guy. It happens. Welcome to the gaming industry, where there are no standards! :D

Matthew Collins
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I had a whole big essay written for this comments section but after reading through pretty much all of my points have been made.

So, in lieu of that...

/popcorn

Matthew Collins
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Oh and...

/Occupy XBox

John Owens
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Surely they don't need you to have an always on connection but rather just something similar to what the Nintendo 3ds does to block pirated games.

I think this is all a mute point anyway. In a few years there won't exist high street retail outlets to buy your games from so gamers will be forced to buy their games from online stores which will destroy the used game market anyway. It's already happening on the 3ds.

Kujel Selsuru
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If M$ does go always online I'll just get a "mod" and play offline and not really buy any games for it. I wont support the games as a service idea that big businesses want to make gaming into.


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