The vast amount of rumours aligning with the idea that Microsoft’s next Xbox will be an always-online device, are quite clearly one of the most divisive events in gaming to date (at least for 2013s infancy)
It’s evident that as people, a lot of us don’t like change. It at least makes us uneasy, nobody likes being backed into a corner at the best of times let alone to have change force-fed to us.
Adam Orth, Microsoft Creative Director, managed to create a storm within the industry a few days ago by declaring his lack of understanding for the wider communities issues with an always-online console (but let’s be clear, he never made any mention of the next Xbox) This sparked some outrage, especially after his quite sarcastic and un-called for comments aimed in response to other Twitter users, and eventually led to his resignation from Microsoft Studios (forced or not is an unknown grey area).
Was he so wrong though? It was in no way handled well at all, no one can argue that, but would an always on-line console be so bad? A large number of people are beginning to think not and Cliff Bleszinski is apparently one of them.
In another post on his blog, Bleszinski defended the always-online concept and hailed it as the future of gaming, he touched upon the Adam Orth disaster, but was clear that in his opinion, online features push game adoption by consumers, despite many claiming otherwise.
“My gut is telling me that an always online future is probably coming, It’s coming fast, and possibly to the majority of the devices you enjoy. SimCity, with all of its troubles on launch, seems to be selling briskly. Diablo 3, the poster child of a messy launch, is estimated to be at 12 million units. I would bet money that without the always online elements of Diablo 3 that it would have sold half of that.”
According to Bleszinski, early adopters will be always-online anyway and situations where a connection isn’t available will become less common in the future or only comprise an almost-negligible number of cases.
“Sooner or later our government, or Google, or any number of providers are going to get their shit together and we’ll have universally fast internet for the majority of the first world, I’d be willing to say that any early adopter for any new piece of technology is probably going to have some sort of solid internet connection. If you’re on a forum raging about Adam’s comments there’s a whole new generation of kids who are growing up always online who won’t really give a shit.”
“My wife and I were discussing these issues this afternoon and she mentioned the example of ‘Hey what if I’m a gamer who wants to go to a cabin in the woods for a week and I don’t have online access there?’ That’s the edge case…the week-long vacation to the cabin is only 30 hours of not playing a game or a device that’s built for much more, Technology doesn’t advance by worrying about the edge case.”
The more I think about it, the more I can see his point and Bleszinski is clear that the wider community will accept always online tech, if there are enough features to entice us to do so.
“If the ecosystem of an always-connected device is fantastic then suddenly people don’t really seem to notice any more. When electricity came along and people had to have meters attached to their house they didn’t mind because they loved the idea of light bulbs, electric ranges, and refrigeration,”
“If we don’t have devices that aren’t fully always online you can bet your ass that we’ll have devices that encourage you to return to the online ecosystem in order to ‘check in’ and make sure everything on the system is legit. Could you hack/jailbreak such a device? Sure, but that crowd will almost always be the die-hard/enthusiast crowd that’s not the average user and makes up a small percentage of the potential sales.”
So what do you think? Is the possibility of the next Xbox being an always-online device really that bad? Or is this just further proof that the gaming industry is running blind down bad roads?
Let us know in the comments below, and if you fancy reading some more Cliffy B gold, then head over to Clifford Unchained