After Adam Orth’s comments about an always-online console, and how gamers should deal with it – followed by the Microsoft Creative Director’s resignation (firing) – it’s safe to say that topic is a bit of a taboo at the moment. That’s not stopping Ubisoft Montreal’s CEO Yannis Mallat from saying that when it comes to always-online devices, “The audience is ready.”
So, while gamers everywhere want nothing more than to see Microsoft abandon any always-online plans with the Xbox 720 (Durango), Mallat feels that now is the time to deliver experiences that are more connected than ever. However, he does clarify by saying that the various kinks associated with an always-online infrastructure — kinks very explicitly identified by SimCity — need to be worked out first.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mallat explained some of the exciting new ideas that Ubisoft’s forthcoming title Watch_Dogs will explore. Specifically, he referenced the ways in which the game will keep the experience active, even while gamers are away from their console.
This, of course, prompted The Guardian to inquire as to Mallat’s feelings about an always-online next-gen console, and the various pitfalls that come with exploring such an idea. Mallat responded by saying:
“…As soon as players don’t have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that [always-online] services bring. And I agree, these services need to provide clear benefits. It’s important to be able to provide direct connections between us and our consumers, whether that’s extra content or online services, a lot of successful games have that.”
It’s important to point out that Mallat pre-empts his response by saying that when players don’t have to worry then they can enjoy an always-online future. That’s the major crux of this whole issue, though; most games that require always-online infrastructures have crashed and burned. Diablo 3 was the first sign that we were not ready, and SimCity reinforced that idea.
Nevertheless, Mallat feels that gamers are ready. When asked if we are ready for always-online consoles, he said:
“Well, that’s a question you should put to Microsoft and Sony! I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices — I would suspect that the audience is ready.”
Ironically, Mallat’s comments about gamers being ready for an always-online console have us wondering why the PS4 doesn’t support such a feature. After all, Sony reportedly consulted heavily with Ubisoft when developing their next-gen console.
Perhaps Sony found it to be in their best interest to avoid gamer backlash heading into the next-gen, and more importantly pick their battles. While Microsoft — the clear victor between the two in the current-gen in online features — has a little more leeway it seems. Sony likely wants to avoid connections with an always-online infrastructure, especially after their service was down for a whole month last year. And for Microsoft there’s no guarantee they can make such a move without disappointing a large contingent of gamers, but something about their position in the console space (maybe they feel Xbox Live is a more reliable service) suggests they are willing to take a very bold leap of faith by unveiling a very unpopular feature.
Still, we won’t know until Microsoft officially shows off the machine, but several different sources suggest the Xbox 720 might require an Internet connection at all times. However, that feature might not be as prohibitive as it seems.
Do you think an always-online requirement will ever work as advertised? Does growing support among game developers lead you to believe the Xbox 720 will support such a feature?
Source: The Guardian