An Alternative Opinion: Always-Online Consoles?

An Alternative Opinion is a new weekly feature where Alt:Mag writers are given a question or topic, and submit their thoughts and opinions. Today's topic of discussion is the possibility of always-online consoles for the next generation: is it a good idea? Can it even work? Would it affect which console you support for the next generation?

Aaron: To me, an always-online console is a really, REALLY bad idea. For starters, regardless of what Adam Orth thinks (the former Microsoft employee who told us that everyone is “always online”, that he doesn't see why it's an issue, and that it's the world we live in and we should “deal with it”), it's plainly obvious that the world simply is not ready for an always-online console. The internet we have is nowhere near capable of giving us the consistency, as well as high enough speeds. Whenever I want to play games online, I often have to disconnect my phone and laptop from my Wi-Fi in order to play without lag. As someone who has proudly championed the Xbox 360 for this current console generation, I will happily say that if the next Xbox is always-online, there is NO way I'm buying it. People's internet connections go down regularly, it's a fact of life, and knowing that the console I'm expected to shell out probably around £300-£400 minimum for, won't let me even play a single-player only game without being connected to the internet, is an outrageous thought to me. Plus, you only have to look at the big always-online fiascos of recent times, Diablo and SimCity, to see just how well these always-online launches really work. Don't do it, Microsoft. It's stupid. Incredibly stupid.

Lewis: I think the future that many companies see us living in is similar to that of the anime movie Summer Wars (see Josh's review here). Everything in our lives (from gaming to the fire service) connected together by the internet, like some sort of Facebook on steroids. So inevitably they want gaming to be an only online thing. Judging by the success of online gaming in the soon-to-be-over seventh generation, why not? It seems, theoretically, like it could be a good idea, especially for the younger generation of gamers who spend most of their time playing their mates online. 
Personally though, I am definitely not a fan of this direction, but if Microsoft want to head that way with their next console, then they can go ahead, their Xbox Live service is very well kept and I trusted them to be able to handle an always-online service well... well, until the other day when their service had problems and gamers couldn't get online. Judging by the recent trend of game companies releasing barely working games and the problems with new game consoles that always arise on launch who says that the next Xbox is going to work properly if is always-online? Again, I bring up the movie Summer Wars, in that movie the internet fails and the whole world can't function. What if you are a gamer who just likes to play games on their own (like myself), immersing yourself in a single player campaign, escaping from the outside world? You want to be able to play that regardless of an internet connection, and frankly, you don't need an internet connection to get all you want out of that game. Do you really want notifications popping up all the time about your friends? I don't know about you but I probably started to play games more at one point just because Facebook was so boring.

Peter Simpson:
I agree with Lewis and Aaron here. I think it’s stupid for the next Xbox to be always-online. I could waffle on about how playing single player games don’t need Live and other things, but I won’t. One thing I will say however, is this:
You have to pay for Xbox Live and if your internet is a bit dodgy and your Xbox won’t work then you get deprived of two services. The first being the Xbox which you just forked out a load of money for; and second, the ability to play online which you just forked out a load of money for. If you buy something you shouldn’t be deprived of being able to use it just because you have shitty internet. Like Aaron said, our internet just isn’t good enough for it. And that’s only in the UK, United States and other prosperous countries. Some other country where Xbox Live isn’t used so widely, but still is used will have internet connections a lot worse than ours. They get alienated because of where they live! Make the new Xbox always online and you lose a lot of customers to the PS4. Oh, and that Microsoft guy is an idiot. 
So what do you think: are always-online consoles the future of gaming, or just another bad idea? Let us know in the comments section below or by our Facebook or Twitter page.

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