To call the suggestion of an ‘always-online’ console an outrage would be an understatement. From what I’ve seen even die-hard xbox fans have damned the prospect of constantly having to be online to play their games. Yes, the fresh rumors are that Microsoft will leave the ‘always-online’ requirement up to the publisher but for the sake of this piece, let’s assume it’s console wide. Let’s also assume that the rumors of the Kinect requirement and the used games block are true. This is all hypothetical here.
Now, do I think the internet requirement will doom the system? Yes - hell yes, actually, but that’s not the point. Yes, there is almost unanimous rejection of this potential practice, but no one ever came up with what good it could bring. I sat on the train the other day thinking of how any good could come form an always-online requirement, I scoured the internet to see what people have to say and I think I have something. So here for you, my dear friends: the pros of an “always-online console.”
[font=Arial Black]#1 Major Nelson Can Bring You Nice Ads.[/font]
You know, when I’m on Xbox live - a service I pay lots of money for - and I see the advertisements I think: “Golly, I like these ads, but they don’t advertise things I want to buy.” Microsoft has that solution. The media box that’s it’s supposedly going to be, could track all your viewing, browsing, game history, how much you play what, what you play, essentially everything you do on the system because it’s always-online. Through this it could bring you ads custom to your interests and habits. This is nothing new, just a practice made famous by Facebook, meaning everyone should do it because, Facebook. Funny thing about he Kinect requirement is that many people seem to be as not if more upset about it than the online requirement. Reasons ranging from simply not wanting to use it to Orwellian fantasies of the Kinect watching you, scanning you and figuring you’d like to see some Taco Bell ads, huh fatty?
[font=Arial Black]#2 Shipping Unfinished Games and Patching in the Mistakes Later Becomes a Guilt-Free Practice![/font]
Yes, unfinished games like Dead Island that forced it’s customers to wait for a patch that would fix some of it’s problems was quite the controversy. What’s worst about the “patch-fix it later” attitude is that many gamers who don’t have their system online and ultimately got screwed and left with a broken or unfinished game. Which is deplorable - but! Thanks to the always-online requirement, now no one gets completely screwed by laziness (or hastiness) and everyone gets the patch.... at some point.
[font=Arial Black]#3 The Debate Over Online Passes Will Be Ended Once and for All![/font]
Tired of people debating online passes to death? Unbelievable news! If it is true that Microsoft will block all used games then the debate is settled, right? Cause all games will require some sort of validation of them being not only authentic, but new. No more buying a game at Gamestop and wondering if it won’t work. You also don’t have to struggle with the decision of paying full price for a new game (God forbid if they raise the price past $60) or eight bucks off a used version of the game. It’s good for Gamestop too because it saves them money on that miserable money-back guarantee of theirs and they save so much store space! Simply brilliant.
[font=Arial Black]Least but not Least: Every game can be an MMO![/font]
Not to be outdone by Sony stressing connectivity as a huge part of their gaming experience via a share button and other things. To answer this Microsoft is going to bring you connectivity or else. I know we’ve all moved on to mammary gland-gate but remember
the debacle that was the SimCity launch? EA disguised DRM by calling the game an “MMO” because that worked so well for Blizzard. This kind of controlling, restrictive DRM could become the new norm. This would be great for the wallets of developers as well as Microsoft’s.
These are the only pros I could think of. I tried so very hard to be the devil’s advocate and think of what benefit the rumors surrounding Microsoft’s new console could be. It seems to me that they all benefit Microsoft and the publishers. It allows restrictive DRM that would crush used game retailers as competition. It would end piracy (until someone figures out a way around it). It would allow publishers to rush games out the door and send the fixes in as “day one patches” or whenever they release them. It would end damaging discussion like the online pass debate by forcing a conclusion and then remaining silent on the subject. It would be a controversy yes, but Microsoft launched the 360 with an outrageous failure rate and ignored the problem until people got tired of discussing it. Silence is the industry’s best weapon.
This is not an anti-Microsoft rant. This piece is an expression of what I think will come if these rumors about the “720” are true. The same arguments could be said for any system attempting these things. There is the possibility that these features will damn the system and allow Sony and Nintendo to reign supreme. There is also the possibility that if the new xbox succeeds, it could set dangerous precedents that would allow the worst practices of the industry to become okay. It’s up to us.