Sony was first to draw their line in the sand when it comes to next-gen console hardware, taking charge by unveiling the PlayStation 4 several months before E3 2013 where it’s a certainty at this point that Microsoft will unveil the next-gen Xbox. Rumor has it Microsoft may respond later this month with an early event of their own, but we’ve not heard of any plans nor have invites been sent out.
What we have instead for the time being are piling up reports from leaks and “inside sources,” and a common concept among them is that the Xbox 720 (or whatever it’s titled) will require an always-online connection. Gamers and media personalities are understandably and rightfully concerned over this fact, and today, that frustration reached a boiling point thanks to a certain Microsoft employee.
Let’s skip the recap of Xbox/Durango rumors that have built up over the last year and break down what occurred yesterday evening beginning with a Twitter debate over always-online connectivity. Adam Orth, a creative director at Microsoft Studios, thought he was making a harmless off-hand remark – albeit a very snide one – on Twitter when he posted the following:
“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. #dealwithit.”
Skipping past the inaccuracies of the “every device is now always online” part – because none of my consoles or devices at home are – the core issue is two-fold. First, he says he doesn’t understand the drama around the issue, which makes it sound like Orth – a Microsoft employee working on next-gen tech – is not paying attention to the industry or the consumer-base his company is striving for. Did he miss out on the Diablo 3 launch fail? How about the disaster that was SimCity and the horrendous PR and reviews it earned because of it? Did he not understand why that would generate “drama” in the video game industry?
The second part is when he tried to hammer down his concerned followers by saying “just deal with it” with a hashtag, because to him – and again this is his personal Twitter account and it may sound more extreme than it actually is – consumers who pay money for products that have proven to be anti-consumer and may not actually work, well, it’s their problem to “deal with.”
The real storm kicked in when Manveer Heir, an employee at BioWare responded:
You can imagine the Reddit and NeoGAF threads that followed, let alone the headlines Orth earned himself in practically every press outlet that covers tech or games. Orth isn’t “dealing with this” since he locked his Twitter account but he’s already famous! He even has his own meme gallery with nearly 400 images using his Twitter profile image at the time of this writing which is worth a few laughs. Here are a few from the front two pages which show how passionate and creative some people are when it comes to the future of games:
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Jokes and memes aside, the events that unfolded are a real sign of just how problematic forced online connections are. The video up top from YouTube personality “Boogie” offers a real explanation of why it’s a serious issue. You can watch his other personality “Francis” lose his mind over it in the video below, but beware it has extreme profanity and is NSFW:
If Microsoft is actually building the Xbox 360 successor to force users to be connected at all times – even to play single-player games – then they’re already off to a bad start. Sony had to adamantly clarify that the PS4 does not require always-online connectivity and if the competition does, well Adam Orth is the worst possible start to their marketing campaign. Let’s hope reactions like this actually change the minds of decision-makers at Microsoft in the event that the Xbox 720 was going to implement such an absurd anti-consumer feature. There’s no way Microsoft is going to announce an always-online Xbox this month after this mess, and that’s a good thing.
- Rumor Patrol: Microsoft to Reveal Xbox 720 at April Event
- The Xbox 720 & Controller Sport a Zebra Paint Scheme?
- GameStop CEO Hypes Up Next-Gen Xbox
- Leaked Durango Dev-Kit Files Reveal Always-on Internet, Mandatory Disc Installation
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes whether or not you’d buy an always-online console!