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#1 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1934 posts) -

IGN recently posted an article (written by Ryan McCaffrey) that purports to weigh both the pros and cons of the possibility that the next Xbox will require an always online internet connection. You can see it here:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/04/18/the-pros-and-cons-of-an-always-online-xbox-720

The ridiculous thing is, this article goes directly to the same absurd territory that every defense of an always online console does. Just like most vocal defenders of always online, Mr. McCaffrey immediately equates an always online requirement with always online capability.

It's like people forget that all three consoles of the past generation were "always online" in the sense that they connected automatically and stayed connected (yes, even the Wii). Things mentioned in the article like background downloads and automatically updating email and text messages can (and do) work fine on many existing devices without blocking functionality for features that don't need the internet when no connection is available.

Even more laughable is the assertion that "more people are embracing the internet". Well no shit, the internet is the future and no one is denying that. People that defend an always online console love to talk about the connected nature of the world as some sort justification for this requirement. It's like they think all the people against always online are in fact advocating for an always offline console instead. Just because we want the ability to use offline features when no connection is available doesn't mean we are against the idea of a connected device.

So, I put forth this question: Can anyone come up with even one positive benefit (to the consumer, not Microsoft) that a console with an always online requirement would provide? Again, not a benefit for a device with the capability to be online all the time, but one with a requirement to be online all the time. I don't think any exist, but I'd be interested to see if anyone can come up with one.

Online
#2 Posted by JayEH (533 posts) -

Whenever someone at IGN writes an article like this they expose how dumb they can be sometimes.

#3 Posted by eskimo (482 posts) -

Uhhhhhh, the increase in quality of games that comes from the increased revenue due to decreased piracy and used game sales? Perhaps less focus on silly things like online passes and DLC?

Ugh, I'm kidding myself. I got nothing.

#4 Edited by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

There is no benefit to being "Always Online" any more than the computer you typed up the question benefits from "Always Online".

#5 Posted by believer258 (12201 posts) -

There is no benefit to the consumer when they are forced to always be online, even when doing offline things.

There is a hell of a benefit to the consumer when they have the option of having their console connected 24/7 so they can get automatic updates and stuff along those lines. But, like you said, forcing always online is a gigantic turn-off. I have too many games to play on other things, so unless a landmark gaming title is released, something on the scale of the original Halo in terms of relevance, then I won't be buying an always-online console.

#6 Edited by BigJeffrey (5182 posts) -

The best quote from the article

A popular rumor that refuses to die

I wonder why it refuses to die IGN??? I WONDER

#7 Edited by ssj4raditz (1125 posts) -

The only thing I can think of is updates/patches, but even then, my 360 patches games pretty quickly, and my PS3 can be scheduled to do that in the middle of the night... So, nope, can't really see any benefits of always online.

#8 Posted by bgdiner (293 posts) -

I think the game industry is just trying to jump a hurdle that it's not ready to jump just yet. The best analogy I have is that of early PDAs that could do some of the things we now identify as smartphone features. They could do calendar functions and other basic functions, but they really weren't spearheading the future.

I'm not defending always-on, because I think at this stage, it would be a horrible idea, and certainly not a profitable one. Once we have global internet (hopefully at some point in our lifetimes), and the technology is proven effective and reliable, then I think we can go ahead and embrace it. Granted, it's a lofty goal, but I'd rather wait than get technology that falls on its face. At some point, there'll probably be some awesome benefits (if I knew them, I'd probably be a millionaire at this point), but at this point, it just isn't ready.

I'd just hate for us to discredit an idea that in the future may prove to be the next iPhone (bad analogy, but you get my point). It would be kind of like getting rid of the Concord jet because its cabin is too claustrophobic (last analogy, I promise).

#9 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

Ofcourse Microsoft want a online only console, how are they supposed to show you ads when you are offline.

#10 Posted by troll93 (388 posts) -

@ll_exile_ll: For what it's worth, a substantial chunk of the complaining that I am seeing around the place, including giantbomb is the exact same principle, just on the other side. There is a large contingent that automatically equates to killing the used game market and the disabling of all rentals, be they 'professional' i.e gamefly or just lending a copy of a game to a mate. They are attaching things that are not integral to it as integral.

Also, I think that I interpret what he is talking about with the update thing different to what you are. To me it sounds like he is making the case more for things that we don't know about/haven't been invented than current updates ect. Kinda like where he talks about the iphone example. Way back in 2007, who would have been able to imagine half the shit that is pulled down automaticly nowadays. Yes it could be done by turning on the internet on your iphone at midnight every night but that removes the immediacy of it.

I don't claim to know what use cases there are for always on, but I imagine that there has to be some, and someone will find them, just like they did for the iphone.

#11 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2295 posts) -

If I can still play my game even when the internet goes down then I can consider that a positive, as long as none of this 'always on' impedes the actual playing of a game then I'm fine.

#12 Posted by ninnanuam (282 posts) -

The only potential I can see is if all the boxes are always connected like some kinda super dooper computer and the ones that are not being used by an operator are used to beef up the other ones....kinda like the bullshit cell.

But really thats me just pulling something outta my ass.

There is no benefit to the consumer having in having an always on console.

and my issue with it really isn't to do the bandwidth caps and not sharing with my friends and drops outs (all of which are a "thing that sucks" but they are not the thing that makes my blood boil).

Its the planned obsolescence of games, these people are essentially telling me they think their console and everything on it are flash in the pan, nothing will be worth saving, everything will be discarded..We will turn the servers off and fuck you if you really love a game that only sold half a million copies, we're gonna turn those authentication servers off in two years...fuck waiting for the end of the generation (happened to a significant portion of mutliplayer from the beginning of the 360's life) or when a sequel comes out they might hit the switch. not to mention at the end of the cycle. Games that didn't sell great wont get a re-make so they will will essentially be lost to time once the service is shut down.

It makes a mockery of games as art, games as something worth preserving.

There is no art here, only consumables and profit and advertising and treating the customer as a criminal. It seems skeezy as fuck.

#13 Edited by Petiew (1361 posts) -

@cold_wolven: The rumour was that it would stop you entirely from playing games you owned unless you were online. So yeah it would impede you from playing your games.

#14 Posted by AngriGhandi (792 posts) -

A secure, unimpeachable online requirement would allow every game to have a Diablo 3 style auction house where every item could be bought and sold for real world money!

Oh wait, you said benefits.

#15 Edited by RedCream (694 posts) -

Nothing comes to mind really but who knows? The team behind the next Xbox I assume are very intellectual people so maybe they can come up with something.

On an aside, I'm really starting to believe that this always online rumor is only a publicity stunt.

#16 Edited by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

@bourbon_warrior said:

Ofcourse Microsoft want a online only console, how are they supposed to show you ads when you are offline.

I believe that will go something like this: We at Microsoft want to deliver a rich content stream of useful information the consumer will find valuable at any time on any day.

It shouldn't be shocking that this is happening. There has been a shift away from straight software development and into "service systems". And by "service" I mean advertising. A lot of Microsoft's profit comes from advertising found on the dash. They have been cramming anything they can get their hands on like Skype where some (me included) suspect the real reason why Wiin8 has replaced the Start menu is because live tiles can be used as a stealth ad system.

#17 Posted by Marcsman (3294 posts) -

It might be me peepers and not my noggin, but I see no benefit in a always online system.

#18 Edited by Kidavenger (3629 posts) -

This may be reaching a bit, but as someone that pays for all my games, it really pisses me off that people are pirating/getting them for free; and many of those people like to throw that information in your face; because the always online will have an extremely minimal impact on me, if it does anything to shut those people stealing games down, I'm all for it.

As an aside, my brother played World of Warcraft for 4 years on a dial up connection at home 50km outside the closest major city and rarely had any issues, I think people are extremely over exaggerating the problem this will be for a very small proportion of people that will actually be buying a next gen console.

#19 Edited by Zaccheus (1805 posts) -

I refuse to believe that Microsoft would actually go through with this always online thing. It just seems such a bad idea.

#20 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

No way Microsoft would do it, these rumors are nothing but a publicity stunt for them. If they do go through with this always-on DRM, they're going to turn off a lot of customers from buying their system.

#21 Posted by Abendlaender (2889 posts) -

Microsoft is not afraid to take bold risks...erm yeah that's totally a Pro for the consumer. Awesome
System and software updates are done invisibly...cause there is no way to this without an always on connection, right?
More and more people are embracing their Internet connections...what? Who wrote this?
It might not actually require an always-online connection, it might simply prefer one...how is "It might actually not exist" a pro? I mean sure that would be a good thing but...what?

So, yeah this is pretty stupid. Although it is IGN so I'm not surprised

#22 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

I have a smartphone. It is "always online" with big air quotes. One of the reasons I will not buy certain games for it is that some developers assume that, because I have a smartphone and have a data plan, I am "always online." Some games will ping a server to validate a license before they let me play, every time I launch them. Other games will not let me make moves that can clearly be queued up and sent once I go from not having a connection to actually having a connection. Still other games will pop up an error message the instant a connection is unavailable. And these games are qualitatively worse because someone made the assumption that, because I'm using a device that's supposed to always have an Internet connection, they could put things into games that assumed the same thing.

Back on topic, I can see some benefits for the developer in that I don't have to worry about edge cases concerning when someone does and doesn't have a working connection, and be able to blur the line between traditional singleplayer and multiplayer. Maybe someone will take what SimCity tried to do, and do it better, and it'll be great. But for the near future they'll still have to consider the does/doesn't-have-connection case, and that's the reason I'll buy mobile games from developers that do make this consideration, and refuse to buy them from developers that don't.

I'm looking at you, Square, with your stupid requirement to license check every Final Fantasy game on startup on Android. And that's why I played McPixel on the plane to last year's PAX, instead.

#23 Edited by endaround (2147 posts) -

Pros:

Makes for easy "Slate pitch" articles on video game websites that can drive page views. Make it a top 5 list and you got yourself a goldmine!

#24 Edited by NoobSauceG7 (1254 posts) -

Pro:

I save my money by not buying "always on" console.

#25 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (3037 posts) -

Ofcourse Microsoft want a online only console, how are they supposed to show you ads when you are offline.

Lols, they want the console always online so when you are OFF they know to send all those advertisements. But Rest assured your MS Surface device, Windows Phone, or that digital billboard you are about to pass on your commute to work will show those ads. See PERFECTLY benign uses! Microsoft is saying, no need to worry, the advertisements will get to you!

#26 Edited by phantomzxro (1583 posts) -

I just think Ryan McCaffrey made a lazy article and did not put any real effort into it. Its a hot topic so it will get clicks regardless. What he should have done was do a round table with the ign staff or the ign followers to get some pros and cons as well as some back and forth dialog.

As of right now i can't think of any reason to require a connection because everything you can do on a required connection you can do on an optional connection. I don't think Microsoft will do this at least for the main system because it would not work period. Seems more likely some cheaper apple tv version will hit at some point and maybe require a connection.

#27 Edited by McShank (1630 posts) -

Always online is stupid. I think what sony did with PS+ with it to schedule updates when you want is the best option so far for something like "always online". Even Steam doesn't need to be online all the time. When you lose a connection, you go to offline mode. You may not be starting at the same exact point as you left off when you were online in a game due to no cloud saves but who cares, at least you can play OFFLINE. IGN is a terrible site anyways. They rarely have anything that is worth reading that is not on another site that has been written better.

#28 Edited by Salarn (469 posts) -

Always online is what steam uses. My games are always up to date, my cloud is always where I want it to be. I can preload my software from my phone to my PC so it's ready when I get home.

As a developer knowing the console is always online and willing to accept title updates is great, so is knowing that ever title is going to be fully installed or if for some reason we wanted to use the kinect (or PS4 new move) knowing that everyone has one makes it a lot more attractive.

#29 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1934 posts) -

@salarn said:

Always online is what steam uses. My games are always up to date, my cloud is always where I want it to be. I can preload my software from my phone to my PC so it's ready when I get home.

As a developer knowing the console is always online and willing to accept title updates is great, so is knowing that ever title is going to be fully installed or if for some reason we wanted to use the kinect (or PS4 new move) knowing that everyone has one makes it a lot more attractive.

You are making the point against always online beautifully.

You are correct, steam has the capability of being online all the time and it has many of the features proponents of always online love to bring up. The thing is, steam has an offline mode. You can play all your single player games without an internet connection. Steam is the perfect example of how give users and developers tons of connected features without becoming worthless when no internet connection is available.

Online
#30 Edited by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

@salarn said:

Always online is what steam uses. My games are always up to date, my cloud is always where I want it to be. I can preload my software from my phone to my PC so it's ready when I get home.

As a developer knowing the console is always online and willing to accept title updates is great, so is knowing that ever title is going to be fully installed or if for some reason we wanted to use the kinect (or PS4 new move) knowing that everyone has one makes it a lot more attractive.

You get that without being "Always Online". Steam and your PC do not "soft brick" when you lose or do not start up without a connection. Given the recent outage last week from Microsoft themselves (although it might not be their fault) am I going to be happy or satisfied if the XBox Dashboard was blank or did not come up at all because of an outage that is not my fault?

#31 Posted by MideonNViscera (2252 posts) -

I don't get why they would do always online in an age where people have bandwidth caps and really shitty internet still. I have Fibre Op in my area, but can't get it in my apartment specifically, so therefore I have shit internet. I'm unsure if I'll even be able to use these new consoles in my situation, and I live in the first world and am not poor. So the amount of people this will alienate is fucking staggering.

I'm also curious about 20 years down the line. Will I even be able to play it anymore? Doubtful.

#32 Posted by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

Although availability is a problem, that isn't the problem. No one, and I mean no one is making devices or boxes that only function when online. There are devices and boxes that utilize features and services from online services but none of them only work when connected.

People have problems getting a stable connection at affordable prices. ISP have problems keeping customer connected to the upstream and backbone. The backbone can have problems depending on what is going on. The servers might have a problem. Their ISP might have problems keeping up with their bandwidth load.

#33 Posted by Salarn (469 posts) -

@ll_exile_ll @extomar said:

You get that without being "Always Online". Steam and your PC do not "soft brick" when you lose or do not start up without a connection. Given the recent outage last week from Microsoft themselves (although it might not be their fault) am I going to be happy or satisfied if the XBox Dashboard was blank or did not come up at all because of an outage that is not my fault?

Offline mode in steam is garbage compared to the features it has in online mode, and you have to switch steam to offline mode before you lose internet or it doesn't let you get into offline mode at all.

The number of times I couldn't use my PS3 for long periods of time because it needed to update was significantly higher than the number of times I wasn't able to play due to not having internet.

I'm excited to see the number of people who actually go through with a 'boycott' on an system with an online mode that may or may not be significant.

#34 Posted by iam3green (14390 posts) -

i can't really think of anything beneficial to there being always online console. yeah, i'm usually online to play games on, but every blue moon i won't have internet. it would just be horrible to have that happen. for the past few days my internet has been down.

#35 Edited by WasabiCurry (425 posts) -

There is no benefit to an always online console. I did not purchase Sim City and Diablo III for those same reasons and I will stand by my principles.

#36 Edited by iGooner7 (136 posts) -

The always online idea is dumb. What if I dont have an internet connection that day? I wont play cause I dont have a connection?!

This is pure rubbish!

#37 Edited by PenguinDust (12636 posts) -

My PC is always online. What benefits do I get as a gamer? I'm tired of the "things we haven't invented yet" defense because PC's have been always online for more than a decade. In all that time, someone couldn't come up with something besides patches? Oh, and for the record, I still have to wait for patches to download and install even on some Steam games.

#38 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1934 posts) -

@salarn: For one, steam does allow you to use offline mode with the account that was last signed in without having to select it beforehand. That was a problem years ago, it is no longer the case. As for boycotting, I don't consider this a boycott. In weighing my options between an Xbox or PS4, things like online subscription fees and always online requirements will be major factors in my purchasing decision. Choosing one system over the other is not a boycott, it is simply your choice as a consumer.

When I chose a Wii over a PS3 back in 2006, I was not boycotting the PS3, I simply weighed the pros and cons of each system and chose to buy a Wii. If I do go with a PS4 instead of an Xbox it will not be a boycott on moral grounds, but a well thought out purchasing decision arrived at based on all the available information, including the presence of always online requirements (and I will still probably get an Xbox at some point in the next 5 years, just as I got a PS3 two years after launch).

Online
#39 Edited by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

@salarn said:

@ll_exile_ll @extomar said:

You get that without being "Always Online". Steam and your PC do not "soft brick" when you lose or do not start up without a connection. Given the recent outage last week from Microsoft themselves (although it might not be their fault) am I going to be happy or satisfied if the XBox Dashboard was blank or did not come up at all because of an outage that is not my fault?

Offline mode in steam is garbage compared to the features it has in online mode, and you have to switch steam to offline mode before you lose internet or it doesn't let you get into offline mode at all.

The number of times I couldn't use my PS3 for long periods of time because it needed to update was significantly higher than the number of times I wasn't able to play due to not having internet.

I'm excited to see the number of people who actually go through with a 'boycott' on an system with an online mode that may or may not be significant.

You don't get my point. Although a game may not work correctly, Steam also doesn't start locking or invalidating anything if there is a disruption of Internet. PCs do not stop working if it is disconnected from the network. These system are already "Always Online" but they are designed to be offline.

As for "boycotting" that is stupid where I'm pragmatic. If you guys didn't get burned enough rushing out to buy all of the last gen consoles only to get burned by some feature that wasn't fully implemented or even faulty then keep on doing the midnight release thing. Meanwhile I'll sit back and wait a couple of months for you guys to beta test their hardware, software, and online services.

Food for thought: Given how the last few massive launches have gone, is anyone going to be surprised if the next XBox or PS4 has launch problems because too many turn them on the first day? Is anyone going to be mad that failure to contact and register and validate with Microsoft renders their box unusable? By all means go rush out to the midnight launches and buy them all and work out the kinks for me.

#40 Edited by Salarn (469 posts) -

@extomar: I think Microsoft will be okay, they've been running online network services for software longer than most. Sure we may never know what is going to happen, but considering that it's a launch of physical hardware they'll know exactly the max number of users, further broken down by time zone that they will have to support. It'd be an insignificant number of users compared to the SimCity launch.

If they have a mandatory multi gig update like the Wii-U that be a flop on their end but live download speeds have been typically the fastest across the major consoles.

#41 Posted by tread311 (357 posts) -

There are a handful of people on IGN who could write an editorial that I would actually be interested in. This is not by one of those people. And seriously Taylor Ham? It's called pork roll, and I'm from New Jersey.

#42 Posted by oraknabo (1514 posts) -

There are great advantages to having full-time access to a bathroom. Now imagine being required to spend all of your time in one.

#43 Edited by Nicked (258 posts) -

Keeping in mind that this is all speculation about a potential feature for a product that isn't even officially announced, I get why always online is perceived as bad, but I think an important question to ask is: do the people in the market for a high-end gaming console have reliable Internet? The answer's probably yes. Let's imagine if Internet never dropped for anyone. Always online would be a moot point. This is a pretty big assumption though. I'm bringing it up because the things I see people saying are "always online is bad because Internet connections drop". Not "always online is intrinsically bad". I'm curious if anyone could make a decent argument from this perspective.

#44 Posted by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

@salarn said:

@extomar: I think Microsoft will be okay, they've been running online network services for software longer than most. Sure we may never know what is going to happen, but considering that it's a launch of physical hardware they'll know exactly the max number of users, further broken down by time zone that they will have to support. It'd be an insignificant number of users compared to the SimCity launch.

If they have a mandatory multi gig update like the Wii-U that be a flop on their end but live download speeds have been typically the fastest across the major consoles.

Right, which is why their vaunted experience avoided outages on XBox Live. Just like the one we had a couple of weeks ago that effected multiple cloud services. Oh wait...

What I suspect is happening is that Microsoft is trying to get the cost down by removing hard ware like hard drive/ssd and putting the saves up on Azure Cloud. Which is going to be great when your Internet has an outage or there is another goof up at their facilities.

#45 Posted by Draxyle (1897 posts) -

@oraknabo said:

There are great advantages to having full-time access to a bathroom. Now imagine being required to spend all of your time in one.

That's one of the better analogies I've seen thus far. Certainly makes a better argument than Adam Orth's vacuum that's apparently running 24/7.

#46 Posted by Salarn (469 posts) -

@extomar said:

What I suspect is happening is that Microsoft is trying to get the cost down by removing hard ware like hard drive/ssd and putting the saves up on Azure Cloud. Which is going to be great when your Internet has an outage or there is another goof up at their facilities.

Except that's not what's happening because they are requiring mandatory installs of all games.

#47 Edited by EXTomar (4951 posts) -

@salarn said:

@extomar said:

What I suspect is happening is that Microsoft is trying to get the cost down by removing hard ware like hard drive/ssd and putting the saves up on Azure Cloud. Which is going to be great when your Internet has an outage or there is another goof up at their facilities.

Except that's not what's happening because they are requiring mandatory installs of all games.

Except that there are multiple sources talking about a version of the next XBox that behave more like Roku or Apple TV. To keep these devices small, cheap and not eat a bunch of energy, guess what they do without?

#48 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

Oh jesus, will everyone shut up until we stop having about 4 different competing rumors about the online nature of the next Xbox and JUST WAIT FOR THE DAMN THING TO BE ANNOUNCED SO WE ACTUALLY KNOW?
One of the rumors is that "always online" doesn't even mean "always online" it just means it'll always be online except when it isn't and you're playing used or local games on it. Or that the always online stuff is all about a completely different piece of hardware from the actual next gen Xbox, and instead basically a Roku. Which is essentially always online because without the internet all it has is the OS.

We get it. It's bad. But no one has any concrete information about the bloody thing.

No surprise that IGN is posting garbage, but come on guys, shouldn't this have stopped being news by now?

Just wait for actual information. Freaking out about a rumor that got a guy FIRED for basically saying "Eh, fuck y'all, ain't no big deal!" seems pretty dumb to me.

@extomar said:

@salarn said:

@extomar said:

What I suspect is happening is that Microsoft is trying to get the cost down by removing hard ware like hard drive/ssd and putting the saves up on Azure Cloud. Which is going to be great when your Internet has an outage or there is another goof up at their facilities.

Except that's not what's happening because they are requiring mandatory installs of all games.

Except that there are multiple sources talking about a version of the next XBox that behave more like Roku or Apple TV. To keep these devices small, cheap and not eat a bunch of energy, guess what they do without?

Except no one knows anything about what anything is ever going to be. That's about as far as you needed to go. No one publicly knows what the next Xbox is going to require or not require. It's all random bullshit from random bullshiters at the moment. That's all any of us has on the issue.

#49 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1934 posts) -

@mordeaniischaos: I agree with you about the stupidity of harping on rumor after rumor without actually having any concrete details. I started this thread not to speculate about what the next Xbox will or will not implement, but more to actually have a discussion about the idea of an always online console (Xbox or otherwise) and whether there is any merit to it.

I also had the secondary motivation of mocking yet another absurdly stupid IGN article.

Online
#50 Edited by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@mordeaniischaos: I agree with you about the stupidity of harping on rumor after rumor without actually having any concrete details. I started this thread not to speculate about what the next Xbox will or will not implement, but more to actually have a discussion about the idea of an always online console (Xbox or otherwise) and whether there is any merit to it.

I also had the secondary motivation of mocking yet another absurdly stupid IGN article.

I wonder if such a discussion really exists. I don't know anyone except jerky mc-got-fired over at MS that ever honestly and earnestly defended the idea of always online.

Also, fuck IGN. But I'll admit, I love that they are around to ridicule.