Video: Microsoft’s Creative Director Adam Orth Was Wrong For Defending Always-On Consoles
If you suffer from “too long, didn’t read” syndrome, the video up above covers the content, courtesy of me! Below is if you’re unable to watch or would rather read.
Today I’m going to be discussing some disturbing news that emerged recently about Durango, or in other words Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox. But before I go there, get this out of the way first and straight up. If this news turns out to be true, well, then there’s no easy way to say this, and I’m really sorry that I have to, but you deserve an AIDS injection Microsoft.
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If you’ve been following the next-gen Xbox news lately, you most likely have seen the increasing rumours from many sources that all say Microsoft’s next console will require an always-on internet connection. Recently we heard news a little bit worse than that, where two sources told Kotaku that an internet connection will be required just to start up games and apps. And if the connection is interrupted, I quote from the source, “after a period of time – currently three minutes, if I remember correctly – the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started.”
If this news isn’t bad enough, then Microsoft Studios’ creative director Adam Orth has stepped out, having had enough of all the hatred from gamers, to make things so much worse. He’s taken to Twitter to defend the always-on concept, and lash out at gamers who have a problem with it. Now before we get to what he actually said on Twitter, understand that this is a bad, bad thing. Not only is it bad for a Microsoft higher up (while he isn’t a top dog or represents the entirety of Microsoft, his opinion does carry weight) to speak about something that hasn’t even been confirmed yet, it’s still in the rumour stage, but quite frankly it’s embarrassing to resort to his childish comments towards gamers who have every right to be upset about the news. It doesn’t just make Microsoft look bad, but it’s almost like an admission of guilt because, why else would he feel the need to defend always-on if the next Xbox didn’t support it, or wasn’t thinking of supporting it. So is this confirmation then that the next Xbox will require an always-on internet connection? We’ll have to wait and see.
But let’s get to what actually has been said by Orth. First he said, and I quote, “Sorry I don’t get the drama around having an always-on console. Every device now is always-on. That’s the world we live in.” He also said, in response to another Twitter user, “Those people should definitely get with the times and get the internet. It’s awesome”. Basically, he told gamers to just “deal with it” (he used the #dealwithit hashtag after one related Tweet) when it comes to having an always-on console. I’m sorry, but are you kidding me? This doesn’t even make sense. There are two major reasons I can give as to why the man has zero grounds to stand on, and is wrong in every sense of the word.
Firstly, aside from just being an asshole about it, gamers have every right to complain about it given the history of this form of DRM. As one Twitter user pointed out, have these people learned nothing from the likes of Diablo III and SimCity? Have we not had enough of this bullshit? Always-on is just not sustainable. It poses far too many complications, and has a high tendency to fail and cause paying customers a lot of problems. It can easily negatively impact the entire game, and ruin its reputation and cause a public and media nightmare. We haven’t reached a point where always-on is something that can work. I’m not just speaking from the perspective of someone living in South Africa. I mean, if the whole world was cool with it, we wouldn’t have Diablo III and SimCity cases.
But if we have to look past the basic idea of it not working, and focus entirely on the gamers and how it affects us, it’s not just about the internet going “down” that we have to worry about. What about when you want to take your console on the road? Or you’re at some hotel with no internet? Or you’ve moved places and it could take weeks to get you connected? Or there’s a technical fault with your service provider and your internet goes out? What if you simply don’t have a reliable internet connection in the area that you live in? Or you’re on wireless? There are so many ways you could be left without internet, or at least left with an inefficient connection. Basically, if this is true about the next Xbox, then no internet means no playing even single player games when you’re in a time of crisis with your internet.
The second major reason is that I don’t think there’s ever been a game, single player especially, where always-on has enhanced the experience to the point that gamers want their connection to be on at all times. At least, I’ve never played a game like that. The always-on doesn’t benefit us. It hinders us. It can so easily become a barrier to entertainment if you’re facing a technical difficulty, or worse still, if those imposing the always-on restriction have difficulty on their end, case in point Diablo III, SimCity and Assassin’s Creed II. I can’t see the next Xbox picking up a whole lot of love and attention if this turns out to be true. It’s bad for everybody, Microsoft included. To say it as clearly as possible, this would be suicide for the next-gen race.
In fact, I say this to Microsoft. You know what, assholes? How about you “deal with it” when there’s no chance many games would buy your console if this is true. It’s simply not worth the inconvenience. It usually always takes a few weeks to get things running smoothly with an always-on system, and by then you’ve gotten enough hatred from gamers to ruin your and your games’ reputation, and often customers are annyoed enough with your product that they no longer feel positively about it. I’d even go as far as to say that always-on is enough reason not to purchase the console in its entirety. Because it’s an unnecessary and unwanted complication that we don’t want and have never asked for.
True, there are many gamers who, because of their Xbox accounts, or because of brand loyalty and loyalty to the games, they’ll stick with the Xbox regardless of always-on or not, but their first few weeks (if this is true) could be very uncomfortable, very unlikable, and it will be a lot of negative reception and a big public thing. And the truth is it just doesn’t benefit us, and makes Sony’s PlayStation 4 look like the more convenient and better option. You’d be surprised by how much people will pay for convenience alone or the lengths they’ll go to just to avoid inconvenience.
Even if this isn’t true, and the next Xbox won’t have or doesn’t have an always-on internet requirement, it doesn’t change the fact that Adam Orth has made a huge mistake and right now Microsoft’s reputation is taking a little bit of a hit. Look, that’s no way to treat people who have entirely valid reasons to be concerned and to complain, and I feel Orth should take a hard look at himself because he’s entirely in the wrong here.
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