Ubisoft CEO Thinks Gamers Are Ready For Always-On Consoles

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Agow95:
He seems to be fond of mentioning that we will enjoy the benefits of always online, without actually stating what these benefits are, so please, ubisoft, please tell us what the benefits of over 60 million users connecting to a limited number of servers are? It's not even a case of "what if I live in a area with a bad connection", because even when I can connect to the internet, the servers will be down, this is what happened with Diablo III and SimCity, and this is what will happen with the next xbox, but infinitely worse.

I know right EA is the same way they keep saying there is all these advantages but then failing to actually mention any of them. I really wish companies would stop talking out their asses and actually back up what they say.

Atmos Duality:

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.

It's not even potential, if you look at the PSN currently the service under goes maintenance, now that'd be a time you cannot play games Diablo 3 still has outages and such. I get why MMOs do it because, well their games ARE online and social, I hate them but I do get it.

However a shooter or RPG? No, no a thousand times no. It doesn't make sense and their reasoning doesn't work, to stop piracy, to allow social features, to keep games updated.

1- Pirates will get it, they will have a better experience
2- Social features? In Diablo 3? You mean gold bots trying to sell gold? No one wants to talk and if they are they're using skype/steam
3- keep games updated? Steam/origin/uplay does that enough.

Snotnarok:

It's not even potential, if you look at the PSN currently the service under goes maintenance, now that'd be a time you cannot play games Diablo 3 still has outages and such.

Of course.
Perhaps I should have included something else, like a degree of "tolerance", because it's unreasonable to assume all services are going to be up 100% of the time.

I get why MMOs do it because, well their games ARE online and social, I hate them but I do get it.

However a shooter or RPG? No, no a thousand times no. It doesn't make sense and their reasoning doesn't work, to stop piracy, to allow social features, to keep games updated.

1- Pirates will get it, they will have a better experience
2- Social features? In Diablo 3? You mean gold bots trying to sell gold? No one wants to talk and if they are they're using skype/steam
3- keep games updated? Steam/origin/uplay does that enough.

1- The practical goal isn't stopping piracy, but delaying the inevitable long enough for the game to sell; which, for most games, sales happen in a fairly short window (~3 weeks). Longer for something getting raving word-of-mouth reviews.
(Skyrim, Borderlands 1, spring to mind)

Incidentally, this is also related to the increasing emphasis on multiplayer, which serves to keep legitimate customers playing past that 3 week window (mostly to extend exposure for attachment, and thus microtransactions, but also to keep them away from their competition's games. This is why Call of Duty dominates sales every year, despite the market being absolutely flooded with wannabes).

2- Yup. "Social interaction" with the general public is largely a facade for most games. Most people I play with in "public" multiplayer games are either raving bonkers or dead silent, with the occasional goofster here or there.
Sometimes, you get a courtesy chat if something happens, but it's extremely infrequent mostly because people are concentrating on playing the bloody game.

3- Agreed. And it doesn't even have to be that specific "always-online" service that provides the updates. Steam often just points to the publisher's official servers, if they aren't contracted to host mirrors themselves.
In any case, there is no practical reason for update systems to require more than a periodic check.
Y'know. Like everything else. (OSes, Drivers, Software, Browsers, plugins, gadgets...etc)

MikeSmith70:

Microsoft should come out and quell the rumors already.

Unfortunately, they aren't, and it's starting to seem like they have something to hide.
On one hand, they could just be waiting for the buzz on the PS4 to die down, so they can keep the spotlight focused on them.
Microsoft wants the "thunder" all to themselves when they do announce the Durango officially.

But on the other hand, the evidence is leaning towards that Always-Online nightmare.

First, the software in the Durango Dev Kit. This confirms that the tech already exists, and is in the hands of every major publisher at least.

Second, the fact that Ubisoft has picked now of all times to publicly flip back to supporting Always-Online DRM once again following a big stink about it from the Orth debacle. Even after it bit them in the ass years ago.

Microsoft must know about the bad buzz surrounding Always-Online, and its horrid track record so far; not even Blizzard could get it right Day 1, and outside of Steam, I cannot think of another company with as much practice in massive server procurement and management among the AAA publishers as Blizzard.

I can only assume that MS's refusal to confirm or deny the rumors is either aversion to an explosion of negative press, or that they are indecisive on the matter. After Orth's comments, PR is running scared.

EDIT: Oh, the spambots are getting cheekier, and employing the edit button. Still, my points about why M$ isn't responding stand.

cons:

1: server problems

2: no conceivable consumer benefit

3: possible future of relentless ad notifications during gameplay

4: removal of consumer choice(not a big deal)

5: possible future of forced social media integration in some form

pros:

1: possible end to console piracy... unless you know somebody opens the console and engineers a workaround... which is totally unlikely(sarcasm)

2:?? hmmm maybe increased tech support and rapid bug response?

3:??? help anyone?

Ah, the fun of gamers hating always online for the wrong reasons, and then the gaming companies thinking those wrong reaosns are the reasons they hate DRMs.....
No internet connection will not make thep roblem of it being DRM go away. making it not be DRM would.

O maestre:
3:??? help anyone?

3. Streamed gameplay (all calculations done on server so you can run any game with crappy consoles)
4. ability to recieve patches and small bugfixes fast (provided MS will stop their "must go though us to apply to your game" strategy, which they wont)
5. a Platform where you cn create groups and people you want will see what and whne you play (should be heavvily costumizable) making team playing much more efficient (as much as you (and i) singleplayer folk dont like it, you are now a minority of gamers).

Dont get me wrong, i dont want always online, its just that pluses do exist.

O maestre:
cons:

1: server problems

2: no conceivable consumer benefit

3: possible future of relentless ad notifications during gameplay

4: removal of consumer choice(not a big deal)

5: possible future of forced social media integration in some form

6: excluding a big market of people who donīt have Infrastructure and money for 500$ stuff?

well, and i think ubisoft and 90% of the triple A-industry is ready for a severe beatwdown by their neglected customers.

but hey, if they think they have enough money only to get more money from the rich and the money which have the luck of good stable infrastructure and have enough money to ignore the growing market in other areas-like south america ( eg Brazil) or parts of asia and africa- there are people who want play games, but wont have internet and that much money-that might be the reason why the ps2 is so loved- enough games and its now cheap enough for the growing middleclass in tiger-states.

but if the industry has enough money and wants to exclude them-their shot. and their problem, they have to deal with the consequences..

luckily there is the growing indie-market and other ways to offer advertise for games-so nobody really "need" these big and lazy companies

snip:
one, two three
(less companies nobody will shed a tear..)

In other words, Ubisoft CEO thinks gamers are ready for always-on Ubsioft's dick.
Nothing? Not even a chuckle?
At this rate it seems companies are hoping to simply brute-force always-on in, and eventually get people to give up trying to resist. The worst part is that that might actually work.

Andy Chalk:

Ubisoft big dog Yannis Mallat says gamers will embrace always-on gaming as soon as they're able to stop worrying about it.

Is this a sideways Doctor Strangelove reference?

Anyway, moving right along...

But Mallat said people will stop worrying about such things as soon as the industry demonstrates that there's really nothing to worry about.

Technically true, but I think we're unlikely to see this any time soon. So far, the industry has demonstrated almost unilaterally that there IS something to worry about.

Strazdas:
Ah, the fun of gamers hating always online for the wrong reasons, and then the gaming companies thinking those wrong reaosns are the reasons they hate DRMs.....
No internet connection will not make thep roblem of it being DRM go away. making it not be DRM would.

O maestre:
3:??? help anyone?

3. Streamed gameplay (all calculations done on server so you can run any game with crappy consoles)
4. ability to recieve patches and small bugfixes fast (provided MS will stop their "must go though us to apply to your game" strategy, which they wont)
5. a Platform where you cn create groups and people you want will see what and whne you play (should be heavvily costumizable) making team playing much more efficient (as much as you (and i) singleplayer folk dont like it, you are now a minority of gamers).

Dont get me wrong, i dont want always online, its just that pluses do exist.

But are any of those not available on a platform that has an optional online mode...Only point 3 that you mentioned is an actual plus you could not get with a optional online console, it's an interesting idea: just pay for a simple box that will connect you in to a server with the necessary hardware to run a game, and then all the console calculations are done on that server, so the next Xbox would cost a few dozen monies.

Of course that means that you become absolutely dependent on a solid latency free internet connection and the company don't skimp on server space to accomdate all their customers (especially on important release dates) or else your single player games will become this:

And lets face it, on this issue we don't trust the publishers as far as we could pee on them, and for some very good reasons.

You know what? He's actually completely and utterly right. And because there's so much goddamn reason to worry we are NOT ready for always-on consoles. But they're going to try and do it anyway. The stupid cunts.

yamy:

I'm sorry...am I missing something here? What benefit does an always-online connection give to the consumer? How does an always online connection help give 'extra content and online services'? Why can't these be provided via the current system where the consumer can choose to be online or not?

As far as I'm seeing the requirement for being always online confers no benefits to the consumer, only to the publishers and games comapanies.

I'm not an expert, but my guess is it may be that having an always online function may allow game publishers to observe gamer behaviour, the data of which will be useful for dev's who can make better games based on this statistical data. However, it is also possible that an online function may allow companies to build individual consumer profiles, so such customers can be sent targeted advertising based on their gaming habits.

At the end of the day it all comes down to profit, i too can't see much if any consumer benefit from an always online function- so there's probably something in for the game publishers, and my wild stab in that dark is that it's all about getting consumer data which can be used for marketing purposes.

I really don't see the motivation here. Budgets are already so crazy in our current generation that 3 million sales isn't sufficient. Why on earth would you want to cut out a sizable portion of your intended audience when you're already having issues reaching enough non-internet consumers? I can't see the metric data mining, piracy control (which will be broken anyway), or used games deterrence actually outweighing the loss of around 1/3 of your potential install base.

Also, this is starting to look less and less like a rumor. Orth, this Ubisoft character, the devkit leaks, the silence from Microsoft...if I were in charge of this situation, I'd either be wanting to squash all of this bad PR or thinking of a way to spin it into a "feature that gamers can't live without". Oh, and I really don't like these suits telling me what I do and don't want. Rely on your damned metrics and demographic data to be convinced about "what gamers want", it's worked well so far, right?

I think the arrogance is in the history of this shit. People were appalled by DRM, microtransactions, day-one/on-disc DLC, etc, and enough people really did just decide "I guess that's how things are now" or not care, and continue to buy it up. I don't see any reason for this man to believe that always-on DRM on a system itself would be much different.

Well, i wont buy an always online Console. I'd advise that no one buy that until it's certain that there will be very little connection issues.

*If* you have an absolutely stable Internet connection and don't mind having that console be constantly vulnerable to attacks from malware and *if* the Games can be resold and aren't bound to your account or worse, to your console, then one could possibly think about getting that thing. *If* there are no Server issues...

Given how previous attempts on this have always failed in a spectacular way I will continue to worry about it.

SL33TBL1ND:

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.

Exactly. If you want to check that someone's playing a legit copy, fine, do your bullshit login check, but piss the fuck off afterwards. This is why I love Steam so much: I don't feel that I have to bend over backwards just to get into my game, even though I need a connection when I log in.
Hell, it even has an Offline Mode so you can turn off Steam and/or your computer and not have to worry about re-establishing a connection. Any other company would moan about this function being abused to give other people entire libraries of free games... But Valve doesn't care. Then again, they've always been smart enough to realize that DRM encourages piracy rather than preventing it.

The last person who should be talking about always-online is the Ubisoft CEO, considering just how incompetent Ubisoft have been in their past with their always-on games.

I still really hope MS are actually stupid enough to do this, though. The next video game market crash can't happen soon enough.

Hero in a half shell:

Strazdas:
3. Streamed gameplay (all calculations done on server so you can run any game with crappy consoles)
4. ability to recieve patches and small bugfixes fast (provided MS will stop their "must go though us to apply to your game" strategy, which they wont)
5. a Platform where you cn create groups and people you want will see what and whne you play (should be heavvily costumizable) making team playing much more efficient (as much as you (and i) singleplayer folk dont like it, you are now a minority of gamers).

But are any of those not available on a platform that has an optional online mode...Only point 3 that you mentioned is an actual plus you could not get with a optional online console, it's an interesting idea: just pay for a simple box that will connect you in to a server with the necessary hardware to run a game, and then all the console calculations are done on that server, so the next Xbox would cost a few dozen monies.

Well, you cant really do any streamed gameplay without internet.
You could get small bugfixing with optional internet, however thet mostly seem to be PC-exclusive deal due to enormous bourocracy companeis have to go though to put a patch on a console.
You can do the point number 5 optinally, but it will not work when you are offline, so it kinddefeats the whole purpose.

Its not only an idea really, the point 3 is a relaity, altrough for PCs only i think. its called OnLive, sadly still very limited library.

None of this really matters, hundreds of thousands of people will still buy the consoles, nothing will change and us as the consumers will lose again because we let them get away with this shit. I'm sticking to PC and old consoles it seems, the last generation was my last.

You want to provide content to your buyers...

fair enough, but I have to ask what part of that requires the 'Always' bit of 'Always Online'

I want to do something that most developers rather not do. Because.... reasons.

I'm going to ask you. You the gamer. Please. Your input is dire now.

Have you ever felt like you needed more connectivity the developer? Did you ever stop in the middle of enjoying a game of last generation and thought "... why, I am playing a game and I don't feel like I'm constantly tethered to the developer and whatever wonders they have for me. This is killing my enjoyment of this fully functional, unrestricted game that I was enjoying up until the point that I realized I'm more than a step away from the Developer and their vision."

Who is demanding more of the developer's immersion into our experience? Has anyone asked for this? And patches do. not. count. If you send out a faulty product, you fix it. That's all of business. That doesn't give games some type of free pass to control all. So my question is ultimately this... Other than the obvious stranglehold they want to have over their products, why in sweet zombie Jesus's name do they think we want them constantly over our shoulder?

Since he said the unholy 'S' word (Service), I'm very close to writing him off as a drone with a better pr department than the rest.

my router has been crapping out for a while now, and the past month or so I just gave up trying to connect my 360 to the Internet (wifi or ethernet) lol...

which obviously makes me whimper a bit at the thought of always-on. I guess the next generation of gamers will shun me for my less-than-sufficient Internet heh

of course I'm also getting to the point in life where I COULD just put video games down and stop playing while I get on with life ...lol assuming I can get one :P

No Ubisoft, no. If you are reading this, and you're not, you'd understand that the requirement of "Always Online" is only a detriment to the user. Optional online use is the one with the benefit for people in the mood to socialize. Say I want to take a real friend along with me while questing in the next Elder Scrolls game. Great, I'll turn my social feature on. If not, I want to be able to drag my system to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and play as desired. We're not just unhappy about it because your servers are so damn unreliable. We're unhappy because sometimes the internet doesn't work or sometimes we don't want to be on the internet at all. And 10 years down the road, we want these games to be playable, assuming they're good games.

So, Ubisoft, if you want it to be a benefit to us at all, you're going to have to establish why it's better to not be able to turn online features off or on as desired. We don't have a problem with the Online part, we have a problem with the "Always". I'm glad you seem to be further ahead the competition than other companies at understanding some of the major problems. And maybe creating a reliable service will be enough to persuade a lot of people. But YOU can never gaurantee that I'm going to have a stable internet connection. No matter how good your servers are. Not unless you are also my internet provider.

dementis:
None of this really matters, hundreds of thousands of people will still buy the consoles, nothing will change and us as the consumers will lose again because we let them get away with this shit. I'm sticking to PC and old consoles it seems, the last generation was my last.

If you have the money for a good pc, then that's a great way to go. It's the route I'm currently well invested in and completely happy.

Hopefully this will bottleneck at a console level. If MS goes always on, I hope to see the PS3 gain significant market share. This is the way we can see people punished for forcing this on consumers.

Lightknight:

dementis:
None of this really matters, hundreds of thousands of people will still buy the consoles, nothing will change and us as the consumers will lose again because we let them get away with this shit. I'm sticking to PC and old consoles it seems, the last generation was my last.

If you have the money for a good pc, then that's a great way to go. It's the route I'm currently well invested in and completely happy.

Hopefully this will bottleneck at a console level. If MS goes always on, I hope to see the PS3 gain significant market share. This is the way we can see people punished for forcing this on consumers.

I agree thoroughly, I didn't really have the money to build a PC quickly, took a year of buying and saving each piece but I finished it a few months back and my consoles mostly gather dust apart from when I feel like playing the old PS2.

It really does look like I'll be giving the next generation a miss considering what I've heard about both new consoles.

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

Controversial topic means it's a scoop for the journalist. It comes with the territory that they fuel controversy. It keeps people on the site when they argue and discuss.

ANYWAY:

PC gaming, consolefags?

No, seriously, in empathy with the console gamers, as one with a moody Internet connection, I love a good offline game, it would suck if I couldn't get full access to it even when it doesn't require an Internet connection. There's also the whole privacy thing. Why do they want us always online? Are they sapping info from our actions? Why must they insist? I thought they were trying to sell consoles, if people don't want you to do it, DON'T. I thought giving the people what they want was a winning business tactic. Are they so desperate for innovation that they MUST have this new feature to look forward-thinking?

Lightknight:
No Ubisoft, no. If you are reading this, and you're not, you'd understand that the requirement of "Always Online" is only a detriment to the user. Optional online use is the one with the benefit for people in the mood to socialize. Say I want to take a real friend along with me while questing in the next Elder Scrolls game. Great, I'll turn my social feature on. If not, I want to be able to drag my system to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and play as desired. We're not just unhappy about it because your servers are so damn unreliable. We're unhappy because sometimes the internet doesn't work or sometimes we don't want to be on the internet at all. And 10 years down the road, we want these games to be playable, assuming they're good games.

So, Ubisoft, if you want it to be a benefit to us at all, you're going to have to establish why it's better to not be able to turn online features off or on as desired. We don't have a problem with the Online part, we have a problem with the "Always". I'm glad you seem to be further ahead the competition than other companies at understanding some of the major problems. And maybe creating a reliable service will be enough to persuade a lot of people. But YOU can never gaurantee that I'm going to have a stable internet connection. No matter how good your servers are. Not unless you are also my internet provider.

And given how good Ubisoft has been with it's use of "always on" I think we have every reason to be worried. Our need for stable internet connections are only part of the problem. Ubisoft switched authentication servers last years and legit consumers were locked out of their single player games.

Ubisoft, we have plenty to be worried about and no amount of telling us "No! Really! It's totally going to work this time!" is going to convince us.

And given that Microsoft already charges us a subscription fee for online play, I have zero faith that they can pull this shit off.

CAPTCHA: dog's breakfast

Damn straight it is.

Jesus CHRIST! What is up with developers in the last 4 months?! Microsoft, EA, Crytek and now Ubisoft have all said outrageous things this year.

"Gamers will embrace it when they can stop worrying about it"

So, never then? I live in Australia where our internet in general is some of the crappiest of the western world (to my knowledge anyways, I could be wrong) so an always on console would pretty much fuck me from playing games on said console.

I agree with the title.

Gamers have proven they play online through purchases of MMO's, heavy multiplayer online games like CoD, and use of online services like netflix on consoles. Shifting to an online only console would NOT automatically lead to catastrophic failure in and of itself.

The question is will the company be more profitable by going online only?
Ideally the added DRM barriers will lead to more legit purchases. Will that added revenue make up for the thousands (possibly millions) in lost sales from poor internet connected regions?

My theory is that very few console sales would be lost to 'boycotters'. Gamers seem to utterly fail when it comes to voting with their wallets. We cry about valid issues like lack of backwards compatibility but then just give in and buy the console anyways. Ultimately, the software or the eventual price drops brings us back.

I wonder if you all will like this story.

Over the past week, my Internet was rapidly fluctuating before it went down entirely yesterday. In response, my mum bought a 3 GB wi-fi USB stick which will hold us over hopefully over the weekend until we get a replacement modem, and even then we don't know if it's the modem itself that's screwing us over.

We have been using three gigabytes of Internet since thirteen and a half hours ago. I can't even use Steam or watch Youtube clips. If I couldn't listen to Gavin's Dream of the Sky, I may have just given up entirely (or focused on my university work). Even if everyone in the entire world had access to the Internet, it won't do us much good if it DOESN'T EVEN WORK.

Sorry for that sob story but I figured you might all have wanted to know this.

I knew it was only a matter of time before Ubisoft returned to the dark side.

Definitly getting my PC sorted. My internet is set to go off at 11 every night because my Step-dad is a dick. Always online shall kill the sale for me and I simply won't buy a console thats always online.

Well, I would be happy if the 'always-online' for consoles like the Xbox 720 were flawless, but even if they didn't have issues like lagging out, or unable to connect- I would still worry because it can be taken advantage of.

For example, ads and commercials can stop popping up. Things like 'buy our DLC!' or 'Since you're on the loading screen, why not pause and check out this awesome feature of this game's new trailer?' Until I see that companies have their hearts in the right place (or playing smart) that they'll treat the 'always-online' ordeal with caution. Cause seriously I don't really see a reason why it has to be always online when some games like Skyrim aren't multiplayer. Also what if you don't have the money to purchase a gold membership for online? You can't play the console now? So many issues already so yeah I will keep worrying.

It's a really good thing that I don't indulge in Ubisofts products anymore. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to know I don't have to arse about with their totally-not-DRM-but-just-as-annoying approach.

Am I the only one who's thinking being part of the PC Gaming Master Race is becoming a more attractive prospect every single day recently?

babinro:
I agree with the title.

Gamers have proven they play online through purchases of MMO's, heavy multiplayer online games like CoD, and use of online services like netflix on consoles. Shifting to an online only console would NOT automatically lead to catastrophic failure in and of itself.

The question is will the company be more profitable by going online only?
Ideally the added DRM barriers will lead to more legit purchases. Will that added revenue make up for the thousands (possibly millions) in lost sales from poor internet connected regions?

My theory is that very few console sales would be lost to 'boycotters'. Gamers seem to utterly fail when it comes to voting with their wallets. We cry about valid issues like lack of backwards compatibility but then just give in and buy the console anyways. Ultimately, the software or the eventual price drops brings us back.

Catastrophic failure? not really the concern

The issue here has more to do with the fact that "always on" is an unnecessary feature that, at least so far, provides zero benefit to the consumer while opening the door to quite a few annoying problems. We deal with the annoyances when it comes to online games without complaint, because amazingly enough we are capable of realizing it is necessary. The vast majority of games however do not in any way shape or form benefit from anything more than a sporadic internet connection.

These companies have been pushing the line in terms of abusing their customers for quite some time, and this is a big push. I cannot say for certain whether or not this is the point where gamers collectively start "voting with their wallets" in the same direction as their complaints, but it is getting close.

In my case, I've already shifted almost exclusively to PC gaming, and the only reason I haven't done so entirely is that some good console games don't port well if at all. These guys keep it up however and I will, so to speak, cut my losses and give up.

Hell, I've even got an old desktop and the right equipment to completely replace a living room console for multiplayer games like halo.

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