Xbox 720: Will always-on switch gamers off?

The rumours all point towards the next Xbox requiring an internet connection to play games, but is the technology or the need there to support it?

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It was just last week that Microsoft's Adam Orth took to the internet and told gamers around the world to just "#dealwithit" when it comes to games consoles requiring an always-on internet connection. And while Orth may have his own personal reasons for making such a statement, the fact remains that this was a senior Microsoft employee treating complaints about DRM with contempt. No matter how much Microsoft wants to release an always-on console, it's clear from the internet backlash they don't want such a device: bullying them into it isn't going to work.

At the time of publication there are over 16,000 comments on GameSpot's Orth story, most of them negative. After all, what reason would gamers have to be positive about it? Persistent online games are often released to disastrous results. EA's SimCity launched with a string of server problems that meant players couldn't play a game--single-player or otherwise--without huge waits or restrictions on content. Diablo III's login server buckled under the pressure at launch, with thousands of paying customers unable to play the game.

The issue hasn't just affected PC games either. EA's Battlefield 1943, while not an always-online game as such, launched on Xbox 360 with a multitude of connection problems that took weeks to be resolved. And that's just individual games. If every new Xbox has to be online to play games, there could be potentially millions upon millions of people connecting to its servers at once, which could cause all manner of issues. It's not an impossible task to manage--after all, YouTube does just fine--but unless large investments in infrastructure are made early on, there are going to be problems.

There's more to it than just what Microsoft has to manage from its end, though. The consumer broadband market has its own share of issues, if you can get broadband at all. The latest FCC broadband progress report shows that 37 percent of Americans, 119 million people in all, don't have broadband (defined as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up) internet. 10 million of that is made up of citizens who don't have access to broadband, while the other 100 million live in areas where broadband is available but do not subscribe.

The situation in the UK is a little better--but only just. The latest report from the Office for National Statistics puts internet access in the UK at 21 million households, or around 80 percent of the population. Of those 21 million, 93 percent are connected via broadband, leaving the remaining 7 percent languishing on dialup connections. Clearly then, there's a significant proportion of people across two of the Xbox's biggest markets that don't have an internet connection suitable for an always-online console.

Of course, not all those broadband holdouts are current, or even potential Xbox customers. In the UK at least, of those who did not have broadband, the vast majority said the reason they didn't subscribe was that they "simply did not need it", as opposed to factors like cost or access. It's less likely that group of people who don't need broadband are in the market for the latest and greatest piece of connected gaming technology.

Even if you have broadband access, what if your internet goes down? Orth likened it to the electricity going out, or not having any mobile phone signal, and in some respects he's right. But that overlooks the fundamental question of why I, as a gamer, want to have my console connected to the internet 24/7 just to play a game. I want to be connected to the electricity grid so I can power the devices in my home. I want to be connected to the mobile network so I can keep in touch friends and family. What compelling reason could there be for the new Xbox to always require an internet connection?

Social features? Auto-updates? That's not enough. Perhaps it will make it easier for developers to implement new features if they know that every console is connected to the internet--but that, too, doesn't seem like enough. The only compelling consumer-facing reason I can think of is that Microsoft is going big on cloud gaming. AMD, the company rumored to be powering the next Xbox, recently made a big push into the cloud with its Radeon Sky series of GPUs that are specifically intended for streaming services. Nvidia has its similar GRID technology. Whether the next Xbox is limited to streaming games like the PS4, or it offloads some of its processing tasks, the cloud represents the one area that could convince consumers to remain online.

What compelling reason could there be for the new Xbox to always require an internet connection?

Of course, there are other reasons why Microsoft would want you to be connected internet 24/7, outside of consumer facing features. Imagine the amount of data it could capture if it knew what games you were playing, at what hours of the day, and for how long. That's extremely valuable information that could be used to improve its products, or--if we're going down the cynical route--offer up more targeted advertising on the Xbox Dashboard. But the biggest and most controversial theory behind an always-on console is that it will block used game sales.

The rumors around the blocking of used games have been circulating ever since the Durango codename was revealed last year. But the fresh reports of the next Xbox requiring an internet connection have backed up those rumours. And from a pure business perspective, it makes sense. Microsoft, publishers, and developers don't receive any revenue from the sale of used games, with it instead going straight into the pockets of the retailer. Take used games out of the equation and, in theory, revenue goes up.

The trouble is, having to check in with an authentication server to play a game is incredibly irritating and prone to problems: just ask anyone who had to deal with Ubisoft's now defunct online-DRM service for PC games. Getting booted out of a game just because the internet has gone down is not going to win Microsoft customers.

Hell, even the Wii U is a better proposition at this point.

And those customers have more choice than ever when it comes to games consoles. They may flock to Sony's PS4, which is unlikely to block used games. Or they could jump ship to one of the many upcoming Android-based consoles like Ouya. Hell, even the Wii U is a better proposition at this point. It's going to take either a very strong launch lineup, or some cheap Steam-like pricing to convince consumers that Microsoft's heavy-handed copy protection is OK, and even then, it's going to be still going to be a tough sell.

The fact is, neither the technology or the consumers that use it are ready for the likes of an always-on console. Ignoring the practicalities of the situation and telling people to just "deal with it" smacks of a company that has lost touch with what its consumers want or need. Here's hoping Microsoft puts our fears to rest at its rumoured event on May 21.

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Discussion

3796 comments
XAF1
XAF1

Just waiting to see what MS has to say for its self on the new console on May 21st. Not sure that I'd trust them no matter what they say at this point. I'm majorly on the fence about skipping the next gen period at this point but I will wait and see. Ironically it's not about the price this time ---as the fact is if I really want it I'll buy it regardless---but the principle of not being given a choice.  There are tons of other things I could spend my money on instead.

Yatterer
Yatterer

The main question is how long they will keep the servers up for old games.

Elkponc
Elkponc

If you are going to "Save" money by getting rid of pirating, then STOP making us pay a monthly subscription for Gold features. It is broadband WE are paying for after all. That would be an even tradeoff IMHO.

SoulxReaperx366
SoulxReaperx366

Do I want always online? not really. Do i care enough to boycott a new console because of it? nope.

sfreedom21
sfreedom21

I'm a game collector so and I spent a lot of my time and money in games, collector editions, I have all consoles (Home and portable) of this gen... 

I already gave up of my PC collection because of games that require always on, or external servers to detect the game before playing.

IF I PAY ALOT FOR A GAME, even the collector/special editions, WHY CAN'T I PLAY IT WHEN I WANT, WHERE I WANT!?

I go on vacations, I want to play a game in my expensive Laptop, there is not a good internet connection near? TO BAD BUT YOU CAN'T PLAY, BECAUSE YOU PAID FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN'T REALLY YOURS!

I like to keep my games and play them after some years, but what if by that time the servers went down, the company closed? Then you can't play the games...ONLY WITH CRACKS!!!

SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG IN THIS WORLD WHEN SOMEONE THAT PAY'S FOR A GAME,  HAS TO RESORT TO PIRACY TO BE ABLE TO PLAY IT!!!

m12abrams
m12abrams

Ok this is funny I currently have 6 xbox 360s one a my mothers house and 5 in my house. One machine for each gamer thats with 5 live accounts.  Microsoft pulls this drm crap and no used games its simple they will loose my accounts and the 5 new consoles to Sony.  in the words of that smartass microsoft exec Just Deal With It.

thejudge808
thejudge808

Couldn't get on live at all last night was still able to finish my Bioshock infinite playthrough that would have been a big problem on the new xbox wouldn't it if this rumour turns out to be true.

OverkillAzault
OverkillAzault

its true thou almost everything now is always on

xpianomanx
xpianomanx

"The rumors all point" ... well no they don't. Useless article. 

wookiegr
wookiegr

Imagine locking yourself into a 2 year contract to get raped a little less on the expected high price of the console. 

Imagine paying for several GB's of Games on Demand games and storing them on your console. 

Image one day for whatever reason you end up loosing internet or changing service providers and not be allowed to access any of your paid for content till technical issues are resolved. 

Imagine Xbox Live being down for several days or even weeks as it HAS happened in the past. 

And finally, imagine that for whatever reason, M$ decides to ban you because their automated robot spies determined you breached  their term of use and receive the ban hammer. Not only are you paying a for contract you can't get out of you are screwed out of all the hundreds of dollars (or much more)  worth of content you downloaded onto the console and all it's DLC and will NEVER have access to it again unless you buy a brand new console, setup a brand new account and spend that money all over again to re-purchase all the same content again starting from scratch. 

I think that possibility is terrifying and not worth attempting. It makes me want a PS4 even more, however we will never truly know what the heck is going to happen until everything is out in the open and we can decide once the final announcement happen. It's very likely the M$ will switch gears after all the bad, very bad bad press and PR they are receiving with merely rumors.

clever_inks
clever_inks

damn.internet speed in my country r slow...fuck..pls miscrosoft consider it..if u still use this theory..i will never buy xbox720 and consider to buy ps4

lee1823
lee1823

I'm more concerned about if nextbox comes with Kinect 2..... if it does they can fuck right off.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Hmmm. Xbox live has been down now for about 6 hours. Curious. And I can't fucking play AC 3 cuz the friggin dlc is tied to having a connection to Uplay in order to allow my save to load! This is why I hate any kind of DRM and always on crap!

dinslacck
dinslacck

Everybody sure can afford a dedicated gaming console like Xbox and suscribe to an internet providers. But not everybody can afford a constant internet connection. It's not like they don't have a job, but due to various factors such as their area where they live in, or 'money hungry' internet providers. I live in a rural area where i can afford a high speed internet connection but the services simply isn't available for my area. even my consoles and PC are having a hard time donwloading games Move to the city to get constant connection? its out of the question. Get an always connected console to play a game? That's another question.


There are consumers who will buy the xbox even its sprouting new craps. But a consumer like me will likely not, and there are millions like me out there. On the other hand, MS will lose millions of consumers. 

#dealwithit

HucklePeel
HucklePeel

I really hope that you don't actually believe in this article. I think most of you agree that this very unlikely that this feature will be part of the Next Xbox. Microsoft know they couldn't benefit from an always online console because their is not a big enough audience to turn out a profit.

this is much more likely it shows that the rumor is right that the console is always online however internet is not a requirement to play games and it also says that they are releasing a stand alone refurnished, scaled down Xbox 360 that  dose not contain a disc drive will be called the Xbox Mini. This will apparently allow compatibility with NextBox  to the Xbox 360

http://www.vgleaks.com/microsoft-xbox-roadmap-2013/

http://www.ibtimes.com/xbox-720-rumors-suggest-alway-connectivity-needed-tv-integration-cheaper-xbox-mini-device-will

http://www.vg247.com/2013/04/10/next-xbox-is-not-always-online-contains-xtv-new-360-sku-makes-it-backwards-compatible/


sr_arthur3
sr_arthur3

I believe they are letting this rumor run its course to watch customer reactions closely.  Remember guys, if they can get away with it in the future, they will...  Give them an inch, they will take a mile.  "Coming up next, always online Xbox 720 V2 with advertisement intervals every 20 minutes of your game!".

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

So since the rummer can now be put to rest WHY did Microsoft not just shoot it down to begin with???

The only reason I can think of is that ANY attention is good attention, its like FREE advertising.  Not only that but when the rummer is confirmed UNTRUE then FANS will BLINDLY spend huge amounts of money, more than they spent on Xbx + live + bigger HDD for Microsoft's new console. 

BUT it will be all okay because always online is not going to happen.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

THE REAL RUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.vgleaks.com/microsoft-xbox-roadmap-2013/

Looks like this is a better explanation of what will happen.

Still, if this is true will Microsoft kill off Live faster to get people to buy the Xbox mini???

$150.00 dollars for a diskless mini vs $200.00 for an Xbox arcade, or $100.00 fro a used Xbox arcade?????

mhaed
mhaed

The thing I hate most about all the "always-on" hoopla is that we, as gamers, are not really "owning" our games that we are spending our hard earned cash on. I understand that some games, like MMO's, are required to be always-on, but single player experiences should remain offline no matter what system they're on. I honestly doubt that Microsoft will implement this strict always-on feature for every game. Some games, yes, but all, not a chance business-wise, in my opinion.

blackace
blackace

I believe this "always on" connection people are bashing has nothing to do with gaming. I think it's just for their cable/tv service only. I don't know about anyone elses cable hookup, but my cable box in always on, even when I turn the power off, it stays in standby mode with the time clock on the face screen. I believe that's what M$ is talking about. If you don't use their cable/tc service, your XBox 720 won't need to be always-on. I don't think this always-on will effect games or used game at all. Now we'll see if I'm right come May.

zyxahn
zyxahn

Obviously saying then actually doing are tough but at this point I if they stick with this I will not be getting one unless it's $99.  Hehe not a chance I know.  Like I have stated before I can't play some games right now on my 360 if offline.  Some Xbox Live arcade games that I have purchased become trials if not online.  It's just stupid all the way around.  I really hope they are just messing with us on this one.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

The more I think about it the more that i think its not going to happen, just a ROUSE, just a BIG SHINNY object to focus on while they have other news that does not seem as bad in its place. 

Xbox will be, more of a Set atop box that plays games using windows 8, and the cost of Live will go up again to give you better services, and those services will not cost as much BECAUSE Live cost $100.00 a year.  

BUT ALWAYS on was just a rummer it will not happen. THERE don't you feel better!!!

Igal-Ze
Igal-Ze

This is where we, the gamers, should take a stand and vote with our wallets.
Yes, we really can "dealwithit", as long as we do it in our own way.
Let 720 fail like no console have failed before and go down in history a classic example of greed fueled marketing. DRM is an unfriendly way of forcing an inferior product on your users, and users shouldn't except that.
(Disclaimer: I bought Xbox 1 and X360, and [BIG MISTAKE] Diablo 3 so I`m a formerly loyal Xbox user who knows just how DRM can go wrong)

jazzyrider
jazzyrider

Anyone pick up the rumors from GameInformer that he's gone because of this? all i can say is, back at ya adam!!


BravelyRanAway
BravelyRanAway

I'm not going with microsoft this time around if the rumors are true and it requires an always on internet connection.  I live in a rural area so if my DSL drops my 720 is reduced to being a paperweight.  Also, why do consoles now have to try and take over your living room with netflix, hula, zune, tv shows, movies, commericials and tons of other crap.  Why does my console need to be the central hub for all things entertainment and social media.   I would like a console to focus on games and allowing me to play online competitively or with friends when I want.  End of story.     Which ever system comes closest to that will get my money. (yes, I'm old and started out playing games on the atari 2600)

HapiJoel
HapiJoel

Interesting round up :) I can't believe Microsoft are really considering this, and you've got to wonder if the recent criticism of Orthy will make them change their minds, that is, if they even can at this point; Durango must be pretty far down the development line, could they end up burdened with a system they're scared of even launching?!

KingOfTheNubeis
KingOfTheNubeis

I'm not buying something that I have to ask permission to play every time I switch it on.

I got options.

And my option is NOT to buy ;)

happypanda53
happypanda53

microsoft would be shooting themselves in the foot if there were to put this feature into play. i mean already the gamers have spoken and they are displeased to say the least and the 720 isnt even out yet. why would they want to alienate and piss off thier fanbase like this?

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

So what happens when I want to take my 720 out to my inlaws for the weekend? They don't have internet and I will have nowhere to hide.......WAAAAAHHHHHHH...I don't want to have to talk to them.

Barjavel
Barjavel

"Whether the next Xbox is limited to streaming games like the PS4". Eh?! Am I misreading that? PS4 can only stream games? When was that announced?

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@lee1823 It definitely will but I doubt it will be compulsory use in any way. IF they can fix the latency/accuracy of the thing (which was the most painful thing about it) I won't have a problem. I'm one of the lonely few who actually think it's a pretty cool idea once they get some more juice to the damn thing of course but hey if you hate it that's ok too :)

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@charlieholmes Mine was down for a little while but has been back up for 4 hours, realise that doesn't help you any :) I could play all my games but couldn't see any of my achievements. Yeah the Uplay thing sucks but it would happen with any system that was online capable. Looks like (rumor alert!) that the always on thing will be for the Mini on the next xbox if you are getting it so should be fine.

planetpisces
planetpisces

@HucklePeel Sounds pretty logical.  I think the negative publicity was starting to reach a fever pitch, hence the "leak".

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@sr_arthur3 They could be. I doubt that they did it on purpose (unless they are way sneakier than I thought) but could very well be monitoring the reaction. I personally think that both Sony and MS could very well switch something on or off in their consoles dependent on reaction. I mean technically it isn't particularly difficult to do and it's what I expect from big corporations. I don't think either of them will but you never know.

Igal-Ze
Igal-Ze

@Ravenlore_basic If you've told me a year ago that Blizzard will go DRM with D3, I wouldn't believe it either. The marketing teams in these big companies may feel empowered enough to continue forcing DRM on users. 

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@Igal-Ze I got Diablo 3 too. I hadn't played a computer game for nearly 10 years and was a bit apprehensive about getting it. Should have listen to my gut. What a mistake. Went back to playing Torchlight on the old console :-)

blackace
blackace

@Igal-Ze I'd wait and get all the info first. I think the always_on crap is just for their cable/tv service and nothing else. 

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@DAMSOG You'll be ok, looks like the Mini will be the one with "always online"

FarginIcehole
FarginIcehole

@jeffrobin @sr_arthur3 This is why if you are against this type of thing, don't even give them the chance...just walk away.  I had systems from all of the major players for the past 3-4 generations, but it looks like MS just saved me a lot of money later this year.  It won't matter if they come out at the Xbox720 reveal and say the console won't have always on or DRM.  The fact remains there was an enormous public outcry against this tactic, they failed to acknowledge or address it and that to me clearly points to the fact they really do want to have AODRM but may have to back down from it this generation.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@Jamesp2005 @Ravenlore_basic ... I think that they see the new news as worse as the other news. 

3 parts to the new console.  $150.00 for always on xbox instead f $199 for Xbox arcade?? 

makes no sense.  Unless Microsoft shuts down Live after a couple years and switch only to this. 

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@Igal-Ze .... THAT is the only reason that I can see Microsoft bringing always online.   IF Publishers prefer it.  IF those publishers would give Xbox preferential treatment... time exclusive DLC, some exclusive items in games...   

That is all I can think of why Microsoft would do such an extreme move. 

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@FarginIcehole @jeffrobin @sr_arthur3 You may be right but MS has this (increasingly irritating) policy of not commenting on rumors. So has Sony but they are far more willing to break it over the years while MS always sticks to it no matter what. Their stubbornness may harm them, I personally hope not but the policy does get on my nerves.

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

@Ravenlore_basic It sounds like they want to go up against Apple TV and are sticking XBLA on to give it something extra as well as being a BC plug in to the new Xbox if you want. I really hope if the rumor is true that they don't make any of these things dependent on one another as it will totally ruin it.

Jamesp2005
Jamesp2005

@Ravenlore_basic I honestly don't know why they haven't said anything.

Igal-Ze
Igal-Ze

@Ravenlore_basic @Igal-Ze It's a chicken and an egg, platform restrictions will shape publishers approach and vise versa...  Trust me, most big gaming companies will push DRM as long as they feel empowered enough to do so.  
For them it doesn't makes sense to do things other vise (what's better than captive customer who you can trace in real time and manage as one single unit - i.e if you pirated 1 out of 10 games in your ubisoft account.... Well, you can guess the rest.)