Electric Shadow

"Xbox Next" Always-On is Bad, That MS Doesn't Care is Worse (For Them)

Polygon's Samit Sarkar writes a really solid piece connecting the rumors and speculation about Microsoft's "Next Xbox" to recent comments by one of their Creative Directors on Twitter:

"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console," said Adam Orth, a creative director at Microsoft Studios, amid a new report that Microsoft's next-generation console will require an internet connection to play games. "Every device now is 'always on.' That's the world we live in." Orth ended the tweet with a #dealwithit hashtag.

Last June, The Verge reported rumors that the new Xbox would be "always-on", if effect requiring an internet connection to play any game. This applies to games that don't have network features or have ones you may choose not to use.

This is the same kind of DRM that has wreaked havoc with the launches of Diablo III and SimCity. The rumblings and leaks indicate we'll see games including some sort of registration code that breaks the concept of (heaven forbid) loaning or borrowing physical copies of games.

"I want every device to be 'always on,'" Orth tweeted later. In response to someone who said he knows Xbox 360 owners who don't have internet access, Orth said, "Those people should definitely get with the times and get the internet. It's awesome."

He has since made his Twitter account private, but screenshots of the tweets are available on NeoGAF in a thread that now runs for more than 100 pages, and in a post that was at the top of Reddit for some time yesterday. Orth's comments have already reached meme status, including a lengthy, profane Dark Knight Rises-based GIF that draws the battle lines in the next-generation console war.

If there's any one thing most threatening the vice grip of traditional console gaming, it's the "brogrammer", frat house atmosphere that permeates the voices of many of the most visible names in gaming. Sarkar's piece goes on to include quotes of support from within the "cool kids" circle. The worst thing you can do when your audience revolts is to effectively tell them "Tough shit! Get with the program, you stupid dorks!".

This is what happens when those at the top of an industry mistake influence and power for being able to control their customer base.