The debut of the next generation Xbox and PlayStation machines is looming large. With its coming, there’s one thing that’s giving me pause. I’m afraid of the possibility that Sony and Microsoft might decide to make constant internet connections a requirement for their next consoles.
Call it a veiled threat, I’m treating it more like a New Year’s resolution. I’m declaring here and now that an always-on requirement will keep me away from the next-gen consoles. Maybe not for good, but definitely as long as possible.
What do I mean by “Always-On?” Always-on, as in, always connected to the internet.
I think it’s going to happen, too.
Based entirely on recent history with major games and marketplaces, I think the always-on requirement could actually happen. Look at companies like Ubisoft and EA these days. EA is about to release SimCity, a game that’s been historically offline and single player in nature, and it requires an internet connection to play. Yes, they’ve managed to spin it so that gamers are actually looking forward to the online play. That’s the real scary stuff here, PR companies are going to spin absolute crap out of always-on requirements.
I guarantee that the next consoles are going to be built around connectivity (whether or not its required), and a massive part of their marketing message is going to be showing gamers how connected they can be to their various communities. If the always-on requirements happens, I can almost guarantee that they’ll be delivered on the premise that the best way to experience gaming in the next generation is by being a part of an online community.
What’s the big deal?
Internet connections are mandatory for your full enjoyment, they’ll say.
But what will they mean? They’ll mean that they want to be able to watch whether or not we’re playing pirated games or using modded consoles. They’ll mean that they want a way to track our gameplay in order to deliver advertisements wherever and however they can. They’ll want to make sure that companies know that gamers are constantly plugged in and ready to be sold to. They’ll want to keep us locked into their marketplaces, ready to spend money on whatever gaming add-on or product they’ll tell us we need.
This isn’t some kind of conspiracy theory problem I have. It’s not like I’m afraid of what big brother is doing and exactly how often he’s watching me; though, the idea of a company knowing what games I’m playing at all times is a little unnerving.
My problem comes, really, from the fact that internet isn’t a constant for every person in these markets. My internet drops at home on a weekly basis these days, and I live in a developed area of suburban America. What about rural residents with absolutely terrible internet?
Always-on requirements seem like a good idea to companies because they keep customers from a) playing illegal games and b) plugged into their marketplaces; but, I think these companies might be underestimating how many consumers actually want to play their consoles completely offline.
I don’t game online much anymore. I’m not much of a competitive player. I greatly enjoy single player experiences. I have a genuine problem with being told that playing games alone simply won’t happen in the future because I’ll always be connected. That sucks.