When it comes to the always-online debate gamers are split in two groups. One group thinks it’s commercial suicide, and the other thinks it’s just were the industry is headed. “We’re already always online – this is the future. Deal with it!” Okay, let’s see who’s right. Is an always-online console a death sentence or no big deal?
Let’s start with the gamers who think Microsoft will fail if the Next Xbox requires an Internet connection. They think Microsoft will do it as a form of DRM. They want to know what you’re doing with your console. This isn’t bad if you have nothing to hide. But the problem is – everyone doesn’t have a stable Internet connection.
And even if you do have one – will Microsoft servers stay online forever? What happens when they go down for maintenance? Well, you wouldn’t be able to play your console until they went back online. This is why so many gamers are against this. SimCity is still fresh in their minds. Who wants to take their shiny new console home just to read an error message? “Our servers are experiencing a high level of traffic. Your console will shut down now. Please try again later.”
They also think an always on console doesn’t make any sense. Can you name one electronic that needs an Internet connection to work? Meaning, it won’t turn on unless it’s online. We’re waiting… computers don’t even need an Internet connection – so why should a console?
Sure, Microsoft could say, “The console needs an online connection to function.” Okay – why? Why would a console need Internet to power on? Oh, it’s because you designed it that way! It could work offline if you wanted it to. It’s just like SimCity – the online features are only necessary because Maxis said so. They could’ve designed a normal offline game. SimCity isn’t doing anything revolutionary.
Moving on. You think always on is the future, cool. Gamers with this thought process are in the minority, but they remain vocal. They say things like, “You’re already always online! Who cares if the Next Xbox requires an Internet connection?”
But unlike the first group – the always-online supporters can’t back up their position. They say it’s the future, but they never say why it’s good for gamers. What are we getting out of it? More ads? The comfort of knowing Microsoft is watching over us like Big Brother?
All they can say is – “We’re already always online!” Well, that’s by choice. We choose to be always online. That doesn’t mean we want to be forced to stay online. Plus if we go offline what will happen? Nothing, we’ll just be offline. Our devices still boot up and we can still interact with them.
Honestly, the always-on supporters are just being contrarian. They support it, but they can’t tell us why. How will this make our lives better? They’re just saying, “It’s inevitable so we should bend over and take it. We should let these companies treat us however they want. They know what’s best for us.”
Back to the original question – is it a death sentence or no big deal? Well, the answer is somewhere in the middle. The Next Xbox will still sell if it required an Internet connection, but probably not as much as the PS4. I could see gamers picking the PS4 over the Next Xbox just to spite Microsoft.
The Xbox brand really took off this generation, but Microsoft shouldn’t let the success go to their heads. The PS4 won’t need an Internet connection so the same should be true for the Next Xbox. Sony taught us an important lesson this generation –- no one is untouchable. Arrogance and ignoring your competition will get you nowhere.
Anyway, share your thoughts on always-online in the comments below.