Editorial – Always Online

I’m often exposing opinions and raging at the ludicrous nature of things on TigerTails Radio, mostly filling the news segment and over running. So its no surprise that I am henning and pecking away to get my opinion on the most contentious issue of the time.

Always Online, or Always Online requirement.

So lets brief out the basic premise: Always online is a service/system where a device is connected to the internet continuously. This also can mean that the device can only operate when connected or if connected.

The basic premise, in the above form, really is not contentious. It’s not. It’s the idea for a service that uses the internet, usually for the prime, if not only, function. So why all the issues with the “suggestion” of always on being incorporated in the latest gen of consoles.

When we look at the idea added to consoles we have a couple of ways of implementation. Either the device won’t work, unless connected to the internet, or the games require a constant connection.

The arguments start up at this point. Which is where my issue comes in. People say they hate this as what will happen if the internet dies, if they don’t have internet. People say they don’t want to have to connect to the internet just to play a game, just to play a single player game. Some say they don’t like the idea of it, that they don’t want to connect to the internet. Others call out DRM and data mining, usually pointing to examples of always online failures.

These are, sometimes, valid points, especially if they don’t have internet as, clearly the service can’t work with no internet. If they don’t like it, or the idea of it, then ok, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

However, a lot of the time these people are making arguments without covering some of the basics. Firstly, what if the internet dies: I can count on one hand the times my internet died. Not only that, I usually have it running and setup to connect to my devices once they turn on anyway. So let’s say you will have a very stable service being provided to the always connected device.

Don’t want to connect to the internet to play a single player game: I get the point of this, but people also need to recognise that most games now have functions that connect to the internet. From simple leaderboards to added gameplay functions like the autolog and battlelog functions. More and more games need to connect to the internet for functions, even basic updating and patching. Even single player games. Not only that, but the internet is usually connected to your machine once you switch on. Your machine logs you in automatically. Who hasn’t gotten a little annoyed the moment the PSN or XBL goes down for maintenance?

DRM and data mining: People need to read EULAs and service agreements. You do not need always online for data mining, as pretty much every service provider will be recording your details and habits to market to you anyway. As for DRM, while piracy is an issue, lets be honest, most of the DRM solutions that have been implemented have not worked. Usually they have caused more issues for consumers than pirates.

So where are we for the always online argument, well, first the whining and entitlement issues need to stop. And before you try to respond, take a breath and think how you are about to comment. Most people are jumping up and shouting about issues without any thought, and they are making gamers sound like whining entitled brats.

I want to put forward a reasonable discussion for this, taking into account that internet access is likely to be stable and plugged into the machine. You are likely to log onto the internet and the service provided by the machine, even if you’re only playing single player games. What would be the benefits of this service? Just off the top of my head, updates instantly, patches instantly, background download and install even when you’re playing games. Easy drop in and out co-op for games, less time waiting for lobbies and friends. Being able to have easy update on friends games and communications (preferably across games). Uploading of footage recorded whilst you play. Streaming games/demos, as well as TV and movies. Streaming of friend’s gameplay.

Just off the top of my head.

It would also be wise to address the whole online device, it is unlikely, ney highly unlikely, that a mass market device to play disc based games would be released with always online. Simply because that could cut the number of sales and, as the companies are answerable to the shareholders, they want to make money.

Would the functionality be on the device, yes. We are looking at this service coming and soon. Google fibre, BT infinity, Japan, South Korea and China. Major changes in internet providing and major internet consumers. Look to any sci fi writer, they will be incorporating the idea into stories, which often point to the way science and technology goes.

I find the arguments laughable, usually as the arguments are usually not thought out. To those with coherent points and arguments, feel free to comment and put your reasoning down. Why you don’t like this, or agree with this? What benefit would you have from the service? Is this something that actually bothers you or would even notice the transition for?

We will probably come back to this issue on the show, so any extra comments are welcome.

– Xavier.

The views of Xavier are purely his own, and do not represent the rest of the TigerTails Entertainment team, as can be evidenced by the debate on the matter on Season 7 Episode 24 of TigerTails Radio. – TK

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