Ubisoft CEO Thinks Gamers Are Ready For Always-On Consoles

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Dear CEO of Ubisoft,

When a CEO of another company was "pressured" to resign after a single twitter conversation about always on consoles, don't repeat what they are saying if you want to keep a job.

RatherDull:
Do you guys intentionally look for what news stories will cause the most controversy?

Yeah. It gets page views. Which gets them money.

Frostbite3789:

RatherDull:
Do you guys intentionally look for what news stories will cause the most controversy?

Yeah. It gets page views. Which gets them money.

I don't think that's the reason. I think the journalists here just think it is fun.

Frostbite3789:

RatherDull:
Do you guys intentionally look for what news stories will cause the most controversy?

Yeah. It gets page views. Which gets them money.

In fairness, I think it would be weirder if the Escapist staff chose not to report this story, given how relevant it is to the state of gaming today and what is says for future.

Eh, with a stable constant connection, it feels like that would just be used as an HD ad highway that will make me pay even more per month in over cap fees. I don't see how any kind of benefit will outweigh that for me.

My console is offline. I don't care for multiplayer except via Steam and don't want constant updates forced on me. Any future console has to work on and offline. Make it always on and you'll lose millions of players and alienate the rest. Period.

jp11:

In fairness, I think it would be weirder if the Escapist staff chose not to report this story, given how relevant it is to the state of gaming today and what is says for future.

If this was a for fun blog, I'd agree with you. But this is a site designed to make money. Money based on page views and ad clicks. So I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree here.

...

...

...this is all a bit much for me.

What a fucking moron.

Who do you think it was who protested vehemently an Always-On feature for the Xbox? The uninterested public? No, it was gamers. People are practically counting the 720 out of the console race if it follows through. That's how ready we are for always-on.

We will not be 'ready' for always-on until we have stable internet everywhere in the world. And as it is, that isn't even the case in the US, and it's definitely not the case in Australia. And even then you will have to deal with the annoying percentage of the population who would rather have the ability to play offline instead of arbitrarily not being able to do that, myself included. Not to mention the ability to play games after the publisher has decided they aren't happening anymore.

How do these people even stand up straight and breathe at the same time.

I'm sorry I'm just not seeing the benefits an always on console has over a console that can go online but does not require it at all times. Always-on is a step in the wrong direction, my 360 and PS3 can be online at all times but do not require it, why would gamers be ready for an option to be taken away from them?

What benefits are we talking here Ubisoft? Leaderboards? Instant patches? That's it isn't it? Gimme a break. The benefits of being online when I want to be online outweigh any fucking "benefit" you guys can come up with.

Remember to vote with your wallets people.

Ummm, how about no?

Considering that my internet went wonky just a few hours ago and I couldn't even access Steam for some reason (I tried going into offline mode and couldn't) for a couple of hours I definitely wouldn't want Always Online tacked onto my consoles on top of that. Especially since my PS3 can't use the internet at all unless it's hooked to an Ethernet cable because the wireless won't work.

Captcha: See red

Meh, AAA publishers are going the way of the CD. This is just their death throes.

Give it 5 or 6 years and people will be saying Ubiwho?

RatherDull:

Frostbite3789:

RatherDull:
Do you guys intentionally look for what news stories will cause the most controversy?

Yeah. It gets page views. Which gets them money.

I don't think that's the reason. I think the journalists here just think it is fun.

Well, to be fair: so do I. This article is the equivalent of telling a pack of hungry wolves your neighbour was saying rude things about their mother.

If always online is the future of gaming. I'll be finding a new hobby.

Legion:
In a hypothetical world, where every home has access to stable, secure, constant and fast internet. Where the companies using this always online service have constant, secure, stable and fast servers, yes, always online can have a lot of benefits.

We do not live in such a world. We live in a world where the vast majority of the world do not have internet connections good enough for this to be a good idea. A world where the wealthiest game developers on the planet cannot launch a single online always title, without massive issues.

So really, he isn't saying anything worthwhile.

The whole issue in a nutshell. Developers can't seem to help but take internet reliability and server stability for granted, ignoring the fact that constant, uninterrupted internet simply isn't possible for a LOT of people, even though they can't prepare their own damn servers for launch day. They think we should accept that we can't play our games that we paid cold hard cash for when the internet shuts down, just because we 'may' be playing a pirated copy.
Funny thing is, Steam already 'forces' DRM on us, but I don't care because it gives me a neat little loophole called 'Offline Mode', which I use a lot because I cart my laptop around with me everywhere, and I imagine people with a dodgy connection use a lot as well. Give us that same option, Ubisoft, and we'll talk.

Hero in a half shell:
"And I agree, these services need to provide clear benefits"

BUT THEY DON'T!

There are no benefits to always online that you cannot also receive with an optional online mode. None. And there are many, many drawbacks: Artificial lifespan of games, increases costs of developers maintaining servers that you can be damned sure will be passed down to the customers, inability to play games when the connection drops, inability to play games when the servers of the console/ game servers become overloaded which they most certainly will on certain big game releases.

Always online provides a host of issues and no benefits.

DRM seems to only serve to prevent piracy (to my knowledge, stop me if I'm on the wrong track guys), and the fact is it doesn't work. How many games have been cracked open like eggs, stripped of the pesky DRM features and uploaded by the thousand?
If you're going to bullshit about 'clear benefits', perhaps now would have been a good time to reveal them.

I absolutely love how he's stating the obvious by basically saying "As soon as it starts working properly people will stop bitching about it". Priceless.
They need to get one thing straight. Some people don't give a shit about multiplayer, online connectivity, social networking or "blurring the line between singleplayer and multiplayer". They just want as few steps between them and their gaming experiences as possible. They want to be able to play whenever they want, wherever they want and occasionally they even want their gaming sessions to be private; without everyone knowing they just got "Tutorial completion" achievement or spent 4 hours playing. Seeing how video game industry has been able to provide that for better part of 30 years there's hardly any reason to change that basic formula. Keep teasing us with this always-on crap but don't act surprised by the (justified) user backlash if you can't adress any of our valid concerns.

Gearhead mk2:
Oh, just up and die already AAA publishers. Die so that the talented designers you enslave can split off into smaller, awesome studios, the loyal consumers get to keep their rights, and the executives can go back to whatever elderitch pit that they were spawned in.

Sadly, since it seems the next generation of consoles is not embracing digital distribution, they can't die. Even with the always online requirements they keep the physical discs mandatory, making the publishers essential. I've grown detached from the console market during the current console gen and it looks I will completely abandon it during the next.

But on the other hand PC scene has never looked better, studios straying from publishers left and right. Though it saddens me to say that I suspect a lot of lays on the shoulders of Star Citizen.

Oh yeah, no, totally. It's like he's got his finger directly on the pulse of the gamer community. It's not like a guy got fired for saying this very thing, only less tactfully. We actually shared in his joke because it was about what we all wanted anyway: Always online consoles. Even the phrase smells rosy and perfect.

Say it with me now... "Always Online". Oooh! I got pleasure shivers.

---

Okay, maybe console gamers are, because all the complaining they seem to do is about infrastructure. But PC gamers have a bit more gripe than that.

We recognize this nonsense for what it really is: control. They want to have as much control as they can have over the products we buy; as in, give our money to have. While the arguments PC gamers have could be considered "conspiracy-theories" or "unreasonable" we happen to like our privacy. Many of us still use fake names for our OS login. We don't like being recorded 24/7... we just don't. We like privacy. Unless forced, we won't even register software. Why should we? We paid for that software, and the people who didn't have already found a way around your registration requirements.

So no, we will never be ready for an always online console. Because that means all the AAA games made for the always-online console will be made to be always-online... even if it's ported to the PC. We won't play them, or some of will use cracked versions of the executables. I just won't buy any of those games, myself.

actions like this have always confused me when it comes to devs and publishers. Sure, eventually we will get to the point where the net is widespread enough and consistent that EVERYONE can have it at an affordable price...but not NOW. Devs and publishers seem to think we're ten years ahead of where we really are and it's going to hurt. Kinda like how they bitch at game development costs going up. Well whose fault was that? Devs and publishers who were in too much of a hurry. It seems that the only company actually aware of the current state of the world is Nintendo which is why they were slow to adopt HD as a standard and why they went more slowly with budgets in games. Net infrastructure is not to the point where always-online wouldn't be a problem and it won't be for YEARS to come. Developers need to learn to slow down and take it more steadily with smaller improvements instead of barreling forward like a runaway bull. These (easily avoided) self-destructive habits need to stop

so ...

it's not just microsoft trying to take them selves out of the race, what with the subscription and always on line rumors, Ubisoft is getting on that train to.

sweet, two turds with one flush

Man, there must be something in the water where he lives, or wait...

You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead, your next stop, the Twilight Zone...

Picture if you will...a man in denial of reality. He has turned his eyes away from rational input and chosen to live in a fantasy. But very soon, he will understand that whether or not you see the world the way it exists, that world STILL sees you.

Here...in The Twilight Zone.

The debate will not go away, this always DRM scheme is always obtrusive and no amount of benefits will make us forget that. Like you said Andy, there are many different reasons why no one wants to hear this bullshit so no matter what, it will be alienating a lot of customers still.

This is just sick with greed, the more I hear about it the more I want a crash to come. The fact that I have to research every game now to see if it comes with DRM is ridiculous enough already.

Captcha: history repeats itself - yeah probably

I certainly will "embrace always on" just as soon as such a time comes when I can "stop worrying about it", however, for that to happen, I would need an irrefutable infallable garentee that A, my connection would always work, B, every developer's servers would be online 24/7 with no down time. C, I could connect to anyone, anywhere in the world completely seemlessly, E, companies wouldn't abuse the amount of control they have over my game....y'know what? I'm not gonna keep listing criteria you've all heard it before and it's likely none of these requirements will ever be met, to say nothing of the fact that the very concept of always online is rediculous, what's wrong with offline play? I play games to get away from screaming infantiles, not to interact with them (I know that not everyone who plays games online is a screaming infantile but damn, those who aren't are hard to find)

this just in, Ubisoft CEO is a fucking idiot!

FEichinger:

We had this exact same argument from Orth, albeit phrased differently. And it's still plain wrong, because the premise is wrong. We don't need always-on anything. We need optional online benefits.

Why is this so hard to understand? I'm starting to think these companies don't do marketing research at all. Or maybe they don't have PR departments. Or maybe both.

My X-Box is 5 years old, has RROD'd once and sits besides the TV. It cannot go online, I don't have the network adaptor which STILL sells for $100. And I'll be damned if I string cabling all over the place to jerry-rig a bridge. I don't play on line games, I don't want to play on line games. I get all my dashboard updates via the games I buy. I buy all my games. Why am I being screwed completely? What possible benefit does always on have for me? I don't use Hulu, Netflix any of that. My X-Box is not a media centre, i don't want it to be a media centre. I put in the game, I play the game. That's. All. I. Want. So why must I have an inert product leeching bandwidth through a connection that is rural and less stable then the drachma? Don't keep patting my head and telling me this is what I really want and I'll be happier when I just do what I'm told. I'M A GROWN MAN, I KNOW WHAT I WANT. Fuck this pisses me off....

No, people will accept it when the internet is on reliably and stable for anyone living outside of developed cities and affordable for more than a privileged few basically.

Sadly. This is not true for over 98% of the world.

So keep dreaming Ubisoft.

80% of the UK still runs on copper wiring and is very susceptible to weather conditions and failures.
I can't imagine the rest of the world outside the 'super countries (Scandinavia/Tokyo-Japan etc) enjoys much of a better quality percentage overall outside their main cities.

I would love an always online console. Really. But it's not up to the console to make that call. It's internet quality.
Otherwise all online has taught me that rubber-banding and disconnecting makes me want to launch my mouse outside my window.

Also there are no benefits to us as consumers. At all. Nothing. The only one it benefits are developers and publishers. And if that's the deal, we're not going to buy it. End of.

Ubisoft, until you can guarantee that your servers will be fully operational at least 95% of the time and will be able to handle the demand and you can guarantee that the servers will never ever be taken offline, then gamers will never be ready for an always online console.

No! Bad Ubisoft! As a reward for not being an idiot over the past year (in my eyes) I bought Far Cry 3 yesterday. I was also thinking Blacklist looked nice too. But no, don't try and stomp on my good faith, I don't want to boycott you again.

*sigh* not again!

Always online is not a good idea, especially if you live in a country with unreliable or generally slow internet, like I did for 5 years (and still sorta do), i couldn't even connect my PS3 to the internet for those first 4 1/2 years that i had it and that was fine, the current method works great, optional online is great it means that on the few times i play a multiplayer game i'm not dropping out all the time and not burning through my internet cap.

Hero in a half shell:
"And I agree, these services need to provide clear benefits"

BUT THEY DON'T!

There are no benefits to always online that you cannot also receive with an optional online mode. None. And there are many, many drawbacks: Artificial lifespan of games, increases costs of developers maintaining servers that you can be damned sure will be passed down to the customers, inability to play games when the connection drops, inability to play games when the servers of the console/ game servers become overloaded which they most certainly will on certain big game releases.

Always online provides a host of issues and no benefits. We are not ready for Always On and we will never be, unless you also make lobotomies a requirement for your consoles, so stop faffing about with DRM and make your games Ubisoft, and if I like the look of them, then I might give you some money.

Can I borrow this...? thanks

Hero here has it right, an always online console is so rife with problems that if it were a boat it would never be seaworthy due to all the holes in the issue. Oh Ubisoft, exactly what are the benefits to always online huh? Can you tell me? Seeing as you've said nothing, I guess not.

Well, I was looking at Farcry 3: Blood Dragon earlier today, considered a pre-order, but part of me stopped and went "Oh yeah, isn't that published by Ubisoft? Better wait and see."

Lo and behold. Ubisoft is pushing for that fucking Always Online bullshit again.
(I love you gut instinct, pity I don't listen to you more often.)

Looks like they didn't learn their lesson after all; but were just biding their time after the last time gamers threw that consumer-hating shit back in their face.
Welcome back to my shitlist, Ubisoft.

Time to start the burning.

Yannis Mallet:
The answer lies in the question - as soon as players don't have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that those services bring.

What "benefits"?
That we get to play the game? That isn't much of a fucking "benefit" when we have that already, now is it?
All you're doing is offering the same products, but only with a digital gun held to their head.

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.

Oh yes, "extra content".
You mean DLC? I can get that without needing an "always online" system already.

I find it hilarious that you tout "clear benefits" when you're being as vague as fucking possible about what those benefits are.

"Oh yes. Clear benefits. They are benefits, and they must exist. Clearly."
Benefits to whom, I wonder.

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.

Ah yes, "ready". In the same way a prisoner is "ready" to surrender any orifice necessary to his new cellmate to avoid a beating. (or worse)

And way to conveniently ignore the fact that all of those "always online devices" are completely useless in their primary function without a signal of some sort, while consoles are NOT.

*Everything he says after this is worthless. He speaks in nothings, providing elaborate answers about rising development costs that don't actually answer the question*

Snotnarok:
I don't get this, why are these companies, especially Ubisoft so set on removing ownership from players with games?

My theory is that whichever company successfully pitches this to consumers and makes it stick, wins big.
With Always Online DRM, nearly every advantage you can think of is in the Publisher's hands.

-Absolute Legal Control (and complete potential for extortion)
-No secondary market at all
-Garden style market control
-Targeted marketing
\-More accurate demographic profiling and data mining potential (they nix a lot of false data and assumptions about their market when the game is monitored and routed through their system)
-Threat of loss aimed at the consumer ("agree to our terms, or lose your account and associated purchases") to ensure compliance and dependency, which if accepted, enhances the attachment and thus future sales.

-Maybe throw in some planned obsolescence there, but that's much further down the line. They have to pitch it first.

Really, "fighting piracy" is just gravy.
Doubly so, considering that Ubisoft has grown as large as they have in spite of the boogieman of software piracy.

What benefits are there to the customer?
I can think of absolutely nothing over the current model.

Every other ancillary service they could provide with such a system is already a standard in the existing systems, or one I can find elsewhere (for cheaper and at a generally superior quality).

The common pitch I see to customers for these systems always pulls from a grab bag of buzzwords like "Connected, Internet, Evolution, Enhanced, Experience..." but never once actually addresses what that means, but just assumes that it's better by default.

"It's online! It's multiplayer! It's social! Therefore it is better automatically! No, don't question it! Don't bring context into this!"

RatherDull:
Do you guys intentionally look for what news stories will cause the most controversy?

Is this your first time on any news site? By posting stuff like that, you get more hits. So the answer to your question is obviously "yes".

OT:
And I think that I'm ready for not buying future Ubisoft games (except Rayman on the WiiU).

So Ubisoft is run by fucking idiots? Who is honestly surprised by this? I'm certainly not.

And people wonder why I hate Ubisoft and have not bought any of there games for years. Hell I"d say I hate them more than fucking EA. @ least EA has a chance to change eventually maybe. Ubisoft has never shown me that they can or will change.

Good thing I'm not getting an Xbox, or else I'd ben concerned.

I come from poverty. I scraped and I saved for what I have. I waited years after a games release for price drops, and bought used. I haven't always had internet either. We may live in an age where connectivity is expected, but we are not in an age where we truly are always on.

Should a day come where I will not have connection again, I will turn to my consoles to play games during my freetime. I do NOT want an always on console. There is no beneficent for it being always on vs On-when-I-log-on. I will not buy an always on console.

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