Ubisoft CEO Thinks Gamers Are Ready For Always-On Consoles

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I feel like the real problem is not one of infrastructure, but of control. We really should stop addressing something that is a mere obfuscation of the true problem. Even if internet infrastructure was uniformly ideal the world over, this business of forced online is bad for consumers, good for publishers. It doesn't matter what sort of imaginary 'benefit' they insist we will enjoy, the downside is very obvious to me: when a publisher decides it's time for you to stop playing an old game and buy a new one THEY TURN OFF THE SERVER FOR THAT GAME.

Now people will remind me now that MMOs have been like this from day 1, with the possibility of the entire MMO world disapearing in the blink of a server switch. This much is true, however, people get into MMOs knowing this to be the case, and for the promise of a ever changing, robust online world, it's a quirk they are enthusiastically choosing. There is a benefit for MMOs to operate this way: hours upon hours of gaming and content in an immersive and dynamic world.

For an MMO, being always online is not just what makes the game possible to play, it IS the game. This is not the case for a game like Bioshock, Skyrim, Mass Effect, and a vast number of similar games with a robust story that can be arbitrarily taken from you once the game publishers have the ability to 'turn the game off'.

Imagine never being able to play all the classic games you love to play just because the publisher believes you should get with the times and buy a new game, or at least 'renew your license' to play that old game.

This situation is BS and I will not buy into it.

Colt47:

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

Well, that's sensationalism in a nutshell. Ubisoft isn't implying that always online is plausible, merely that if it were plausible it would be a good idea. I don't think always online is ever a good idea, as it represents giving up a certain level of control and would only hinder the modding community, which in turn would harm future developers.

It feels like businesses are getting a bit short sighted this decade.

Not to mention there's no additional value of always-online when you're dealing with entirely single-player games. Not least because, despite what publishers constantly insist these days, they don't need fucking token Facebookian elements thrown in.

im sick of all this drm. im forced to log in to uplay when i want to play trials gold edition when i already bought and downloaded it through steam

I swear it's like they all have a bet to see which one of them can sell always online with the smallest shit storm. Do they not learn from the past massive fuck ups? No one want's always online things because a lot of people don't have a constant, high speed and perfect internet connection. And even if they did there's still the hassle of the whole thing so why bother with a console that's going to screw you at every opportunity? Why not just get a PC and steal every game so you aren't even buying a game in the first place?

Could someone please explain to me what these "benefits" of an always online console are. At what point does removing the option to play a single player game offline benefit me?

These people talk about always online like it's the next big step for the gaming industry and not just a stupid restriction they're trying to place on us to benefit themselves at our expense.

heroicbob:
im sick of all this drm. im forced to log in to uplay when i want to play trials gold edition when i already bought and downloaded it through steam

I just bought Assassin's Creed 2 through steam and I know EXACTLY how you feel. Just another fucking "service" I have to log into, another thing I have to keep installed on my computer, another step between me and the game I bought. It was the same thing with GFWL, and Origin. I keep getting forced to sign up for services I don't need, want, or plan to use. It's anti-competitive, it's exploitational, it should be illegal.

I love his "No duh!" statement, the one in bold, where he says we will be ready for it when we don't have to worry about it.

That is EA marketing level's of 'genius'.

You know what... I hope Microsoft DOES release an always-online console. And I hope it DOES sell like hotcakes as gamers embrace the "benefits" of always-online. And when those people are left with a brick as Microsoft's servers crash and burn in exactly the same way EA's did, and the problems with the industry become blindingly apparent to the whole user base rather than just those in-the-know, I hope the AAA market DOES crash.

When Jim was talking about the 3 million+ copies of Tomb Raider being considered a failure, and that wishing for something shouldn't take precedent over smart business sense, I was reminded very much of the market crash of the 80's and primarily Atari's attitude with the release of Pac-Man. They wished that game to sell so bad they produced more cartridges of the game than there were systems out there to play it. They predicted it would be such a hit people would go out and buy an Atari just for Pac-Man (though to their credit they got pretty damn close - 7 million copies sold with only 10 million Atari 2600 units out there).

Ah... these elusive 'benefits' we have kept hearing about for years... yet seemingly unable to take physical shape and form, and actually be shared with us. Truly they sound absolutely transcended in nature. We simply cannot comprehend their existence!

This is a really stupid thing to say. Where's the feature in always-online? It's a sad day when publishers know they can do whatever they like to us as long and we won't complain even if they have absolutely 0 interest in serving their customers

I'm reassured my stance on not supporting Ubisoft by buying their games ever again. I just more people would take a stance and ignore Ubisoft, EA and Activision till they buck their ideas but unfortunately, console gamers and PC gamers with no backbone. =\

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

Yep, and when they don't find them, they look for news stories where they can extract an out-of-context quote and slap on a controversial title on it. If even that's not available, then they just twist someone's words and make a story up entirely.

To quote Homer as Mr. X:
"Real news is great son. But I'm getting a thousand hits an hour with grade-A bull plop."

Heh, captcha: "that escalated quickly". I love it when they're appropriate like that :P

Always on will never be acceptable to consumers because it serves no purpose other than protecting corporate interests.

What. Does he not keep an eye on what Gamers are getting cross about? That Microsoft rep was fired for telling people to 'Deal With It' about always online consoles. Because it got so much negative publicity. Does that not say something about how we feel on the matter?

Zer0Saber:
Always-on will never be acceptable to consumers because we don't live in a magical perfect world where it can always be on. Just do what Steam does. I can play my games when my connection down. I don't know the time frame it gives or how exactly it works, but I think Steam just makes you check-in from time to time.

It only checks on login, nothing more. If you lose connection it doesn't change anything.

Atmos Duality:
SNip

I'm well aware, I don't know why anyone buys into these things.
Such as Sim City, the Always Online thing should have instantly have been a no to purchasing but many people did anyway. This whole attitude of "it's not going to be so bad" with DRM has to stop because it's not something to put up with it's something to stop you from buying the games that have them.

As you said, there are no benefits to players, and if anyone needs any more evidence of that go look up reviews of Sim City Social and you tell me what part of that looks appealing?
Infact here:

The game itself is minimized and the game has you actively spamming your facebook friends and family to play more and on top of way overpriced microtransactions, except their goal is ideally for them to make you pay full price for these games.

And again, what do these new games hold over previous titles? Nothing besides more polished visuals but that's not enough.

There is no benefit to the consumer in always-online consoles that doesn't also exist in online-optional consoles.

Try again, Mr. Mallat.

Can someone explain to me how always online would benefit me? Cause I don't see it.
All I want to do is play a game whenever I want to, I repeat WHENEVER I WANT TO. Be that 20 years from now, or when my net is down. I don't care about the social stuff, I don't care of badges, achievements or anything else like that.

So tell me, why do I need this?

I thought the whole concept of a 'walled garden' was destroyed with the inception of Web 2.0? Well, an always online console doesn't necessarily become a walled garden, but it's pretty damn inflexible for my liking.

As if we don't have enough trouble with Steam and Origin requiring to be online for the most part (I've had trouble before with Steam requiring to be updated, being unable to play any game whatsoever & the only game I have on Origin is ME3, and I wasn't able to play that without a connection because the DRM couldn't validate fucking DLC).

*shrug*

"As soon as players don't have to worry"

He's right, when nobody has to worry about it, always online wont be an issue. Now if we can just solve all those worries and issues, we'll be fine!

Hey at least he didn't insult everyone who doesn't live in a major city.
I still think Always online for things not on my PC is ridiculous, and even there i don't like it if it isn't part a Multiplayer focused game. If the rumors of the next 360 turn out to be true, or if Ubisoft starts making there Ass Creed games have Always online requirements, I am definitely not buying them.

Wait. I think the point of this was that people will stop worrying as soon as the mentioned feature is shown to provide more benefit then issue. So we don't have to worry at all you guys.

They've basically told us not to buy this system if the issues outweigh the benefits. :3

Ubisoft is really ready to take a chance and throw caution to the wind, knowing that we may not even care to buy a faulty product, but they are still going to go forward. We've been telling them to try new things for year.

So I say good show triple A companies. Experiment. Play around with this.

And know that you have my utmost respect, even if I never spend a single dime on your products. ^^

(Note, some of this might be a touch sarcastic.)

Let me get this straight, three games (Assassin's Creed 2, Diablo 3, SimCity) that required always-on connectivity had terrible launches, especially the third game in the list, and somehow despite all this evidence that always-on is not only a bad idea but it's bad publicity as well, someone in the industry still insists it's gonna be great? Oh wait, has he forgotten how his own company's launch of AC2 went?

After the recent fiasco of SimCity and the previous Diablo 3, anyone in the industry still supporting always-on for games with primarily single-player experiences is either really stupid or just damn stupid.

Ubisoft had stayed quiet for long enough that I'd almost considered removing them from my Do Not Buy list this generation...

NOPE.

I don't get it. What advantage is there to the company for always online DRM?

Is it meant to prevent piracy? But there were still pirated copy of the games around.

And people have developed cracks for offical copies, there were cracks for diablo 3 and for simcity which allowed to you to play offline.

Why do companies want you be always connected?

Doesn't it cost them money to develop the software and servers for it? And when it fails you get bad publicity, consumer backlash/anger and bad reviews.

So what reason do they for wanting to be always online?!

Snotnarok:

As you said, there are no benefits to players, and if anyone needs any more evidence of that go look up reviews of Sim City Social and you tell me what part of that looks appealing?
Infact here:

The game itself is minimized and the game has you actively spamming your facebook friends and family to play more and on top of way overpriced microtransactions, except their goal is ideally for them to make you pay full price for these games.

And again, what do these new games hold over previous titles? Nothing besides more polished visuals but that's not enough.

Yeah...that game is kind of sickening.
Actually, I hesitate to call it a "game", or even really "social".
The players are not interacting in any way that couldn't be scripted as an automatic response.

Apart from that, it's just the usual blitz of skinner box traps you find in most Facebook games.

But I suppose that's EA's ideal game in a nutshell: minimal effort content, maximum addiction (grind), self-advertising (I'm sorry, "multiplayer"), and absolutely crammed full of micro-transactions.

Feynman: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

Well, I don't see the reality of crappy Internet, server failures, online being to the company's advantage not the user's, or any of the other pretty well-reasoned points already in this thread going away. What's Ubisoft's next move, buying up all the Internet infrastructure so they can improve it? What are these supposed user benefits?

Sneezeguard:
I don't get it. What advantage is there to the company for always online DRM?
...
Why do companies want you be always connected?

Power/control/legal reasons. Plus you can do all sorts of nice circumventing of product law if you sell your game as a monthly service. Office 365 is a non-gaming example. Autodesk 360 is another. Microsoft aren't switching to a mode where you can rent Office yearly instead of buying it once & then upgrading at your own pace for kicks.

In other words, this is all PR to con you into believing it's in your interest that companies sell you a 'product' that is in fact a rental agreement tied to your unique account. The bigger the lie, the more often repeated, etc. etc.
Want to re-sell that game? You can't, it's on your account. Want a refund? You can't, you subscribed to the service and received benefit from it by installing the game. They dictate the terms and there're no handy consumer rights to fall back on.

The greatest irony is that this already mostly describes Steam*, which isn't even always-on (which on the one hand suggests that consumers can and will accept loss of rights in return for benefits, but on the other proves that you can be absurdly successful, avoid giving consumers most of the rights in dispute here, and still not be always online).

Perhaps more importantly, the Steam userbase would go nuclear if Steam started to pull what games companies regularly do, that of turning off older products because it's costing them money for no return on investment. There's an implicit social contract of 'we'll keep hosting your games, you keep buying stuff in our Steam Sales' that just doesn't exist with always-online servers for an individual game. For Steam, such an action compromises their core business model, so it's only a risk if they go bust. For the games companies, it only damages their brand with people still wanting to play older games, and their major revenue comes from the newest shiny pushed out this year e.g. FIFA for EA.

In short, I trust Steam to an extent because their business depends on them hosting my games for a long long time. I trust games companies with always-on servers not at all, because they have no financial incentive to keep them running beyond a couple of years.

* It is true that Steam do refunds. Once per account...

Article title is misleading and designed to stir up crap. You're doing this more and more, Andy... stahp.

He said we'll embrace it when our worries are irrelevant. This is incredibly obvious and probably not worth a story. The only thing that's inaccurate in his state is that obviously, our worries haven't been allayed yet, so there's no way we're "ready" for an always-on console. (To all potential quotes: Note that when I say "Gamers", I refer to the majority, not you and me who reject it at a base level.)

Ubisoft- this is exactly the way someone talks when they're trying to get away with rape.

Atmos Duality:

Snotnarok:

As you said, there are no benefits to players, and if anyone needs any more evidence of that go look up reviews of Sim City Social and you tell me what part of that looks appealing?
Infact here:

The game itself is minimized and the game has you actively spamming your facebook friends and family to play more and on top of way overpriced microtransactions, except their goal is ideally for them to make you pay full price for these games.

And again, what do these new games hold over previous titles? Nothing besides more polished visuals but that's not enough.

Yeah...that game is kind of sickening.
Actually, I hesitate to call it a "game", or even really "social".
The players are not interacting in any way that couldn't be scripted as an automatic response.

Apart from that, it's just the usual blitz of skinner box traps you find in most Facebook games.

But I suppose that's EA's ideal game in a nutshell: minimal effort content, maximum addiction (grind), self-advertising (I'm sorry, "multiplayer"), and absolutely crammed full of micro-transactions.

But people are clearly buying into this, I'm not saying this is good or should be supported but is it hard to blame someone when people actively give money over to play minimal-effort the game?

I wish game players would look more closely at all this stuff, always on means they can tell you when to play the game, tell who you are playing with, who you got to buy it, can promote other games, when they want to shut the game off for good, tell what you're browsing, how long you play, what kinds of games you play etc. It's not smart to feed into this for many many reasons but I'm sure we get that by now.

Seriously anyone else reading this, that next big game you've been looking forward to getting, if it has always online, don't buy it you're screwing more than yourself.

Snotnarok:

But people are clearly buying into this, I'm not saying this is good or should be supported but is it hard to blame someone when people actively give money over to play minimal-effort the game?

I am long since passed the point of trying to rationalize purchases made on whim.
But that's how social games generate revenue (outside of ad-hits and ad-partnerships): people committing on a whim.

I wish game players would look more closely at all this stuff, always on means they can tell you when to play the game, tell who you are playing with, who you got to buy it, can promote other games, when they want to shut the game off for good, tell what you're browsing, how long you play, what kinds of games you play etc. It's not smart to feed into this for many many reasons but I'm sure we get that by now.

Agreed, I have little else to add here.

Seriously anyone else reading this, that next big game you've been looking forward to getting, if it has always online, don't buy it you're screwing more than yourself.

Ahh, but that's going to be the rub; finding the tipping point where the positive desire is outweighed by the negative potential inconvenience.

It's why all of these pro-Always-Online arguments begin with something like "Everyone has internet", while completely ignoring the fact that the system by its very nature is introducing a large potential fault into the system.

And it's that point I think we need to press and people need to understand; it doesn't really matter how good or bad the game is when the system its attached to is objectively flawed and unstable.

MMOs and Smartphones (the quintessential "practical defense" for always online) are online BY NECESSITY, but these companies want to extend that towards games that DO NOT NEED IT.

We'll need major regulations and laws placed on the video game industry before any type of "service" dependent console is released.

I'm sick of getting burnt by companies with online products doing whatever they want after they get their grubby hands on my money. If you pay a massage parlor per hour to get a massage they aren't allowed to pocket your money and kick you out 10 minutes later to "focus their resources" on more lucrative patients. Game companies should not be allowed to do what is essentially exactly the same thing with their servers and content.

And if games are fated to become more like "services" there definitely needs to be some sort of mandatory minimum service duration set before hand that companies will need to commit to and budget for so you don't end up with MMO style surprises of "Oh you weren't ready to quit this game? Too bad, the game quit you. No refunds."

"As soon as players don't have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that those services bring,"

....I keep trying to think of something witty to say, but...there's really nothing to say to this.

Yes, Ubisoft. When people don't have a reason to worry about something, they don't worry about it. Logic. We are so proud of you. The thing is, we do have a reason to worry about it. A lot of reasons. Most of them related to things completely out of the game industry's control.

Unless Microsoft decides to overhaul the entire world's Internet infrastructure for the release of a game console, we will have ample reason to worry. Until that happens, please don't say stupidly obvious things that just make you look out of touch.

Look the guy is the head of a company that just happens to publish games. That is to say his probably not a gamer his a business man and all the advice he gets and stuff he hears about come from other business men who are probably also not gamers heck they probably don't know how to turn on their work computers without a call to the head of the IT department who is also a business man but who could programe their VCR back in the day without the assistance of a ten year old.

When such people look at the industry they see online multi-player, MMO's and social sites making money hand over fist and they figure hey looks like everyone is conncted to the internet all the time any way it can't be that big of a deal anymore. It's the same thing that the heads of EA, Activision, Microsoft, Capcom, Sega and Sony all think because they are all basicly business people and thats what they know how to basicly balance the books and walk away with a big fat check when it all goes belly up.

BrotherRool:
This is a really stupid thing to say. Where's the feature in always-online? It's a sad day when publishers know they can do whatever they like to us as long and we won't complain even if they have absolutely 0 interest in serving their customers

if gamers weren't terrible consumers, this would not happen.

lacktheknack:
Article title is misleading and designed to stir up crap. You're doing this more and more, Andy... stahp.

It's an andy article. Find the source link at the bottom and read the actual news story there.

They keep saying there is all these advantages to always online but then fail to name even a single one.

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