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Friday, April 5, 2013

Always Online - Always Out of the Question


Those are my video games. More than half of them are Xbox 360 titles, followed by PS2, then PS3, and finally DS/GBA. I own more Xbox 360 games than any other console, including my PC (although it's a very close second). So please believe that there is no Playstation or Nintendo fanboy bias clouding my judgment. I have been all about my Xbox for the past three years, but there's a very real chance that I won't be buying the next one. Here's why:

The rumor is that the Xbox 720 or Durango or Nextbox, whatever, will require a constant internet connection to play games. Mind you, that's not to play games online, but to simply play games. It's a rumor I never put much weight behind. A friend of mine was coming to me with this fairly frequently for a few months. Hey man, the next Xbox requires a constant internet connection, you should blog about it, but I always just blew it off whenever he brought it up, and went about my merry way.

Then Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth decided to log into Twitter, and proceed to tell potential customers that he didn't get the drama surrounding an always online console, and that we should just #dealwithit. The backlash was instant, and I figured fuck it, I guess it's time to blog about it.

Since Mr. Orth doesn't get the drama, I'd like to lay my concerns out there, and see what's paranoid delusion and what's valid concern.

My biggest issue is that an always online requirement means Microsoft has the power to simply shut down all Xbox 720s whenever they release the next iteration of their console. As it stands today, I could have avoided the PS3 and the Xbox 360 all together, and simply continued working on my Playstation 2 back catalog, then when the Xbox 720 came out, I could shift gears, grab a 360 and pick up most of the great titles for $20.00 a pop.

With an always online requirement, Microsoft can decide that one year was long enough for me to make the transition from Xbox 720 to Xbox 1440, and just shut down the 720 servers. Everyone who didn't upgrade would lose the ability to play all of their games, and have no choice but to upgrade to a new console. Furthermore, all those games you owned for the 720 would either need to be backwards compatible with the new console or by god, you'll just have to buy them again! How can Microsoft lose? Better question, how exactly are you going to win?

What happens if something like the FIFA hack happens again? Whelp, you just lost access to all those games you legally purchased because somebody else managed to get access to your account. You can't play offline, you can't play your games. You're just screwed.

What happens if the PSN hack was to happen to XBL? If you have to be connected at all times, and their servers were down for nearly a month, you'd have a pretty expensive paperweight.

I don't like the idea of paying upwards of five hundred dollars for a piece of electronic equipment that I can only use if Microsoft wills it. It's like if I couldn't turn the ignition on my car without first checking in with Ford because hey, somebody could have stolen it, right?

If, and it is an if, Microsoft is going through with this always online shit, they are dressing their customers in orange jumpsuits and flat out calling them criminals. Sure, piracy exists, so does crime, but we don't throw innocent people in jail just because they could commit a crime one day, and customers shouldn't have a leash tied around their throats because they could potentially pirate a game someday.

In the end, it's actually very simple. If your customer base, the people whose money you hope to get, tell you "don't fucking do that," don't fucking do that. Nothing more needs to be said.

Don't. Fucking. Do. That.