Friday Flame Wars: Always-Online Xbox — Bad or “Who Cares?”


(Not the actual new Xbox – Ed.)

Microsoft reveals its new Xbox in Redmond, Wash. on May 21st. Until then, the grist mill of internet speculation will turn merrily. The chief controversy in this case? Rumors that an internet connection will be required for the console to function — the kind of “always-on” scheme that makes certain gamers want to scream. Game Front colleague Ross Lincoln is already on record, calling it “an insane idea.” Microsoft employee Adam Orth was recently let go for taking the opposite position, defending the policy in a combative, flippant way.

The specifics of how exactly this always-on scheme will actually work are not yet available, though the story keeps getting confirmed, most recently by Polygon. Still, in the spirit of Friday Flame Wars, we have to ask: how freaked out are you by Microsoft’s plans to include an internet connection requirement? Would it affect your decision to purchase the new console? Is it unfair to people who live in rural areas with inconsistent internet service? Or is it something we should all just get over?

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19 Comments on Friday Flame Wars: Always-Online Xbox — Bad or “Who Cares?”


On April 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Its been a horrible Generation of gaming. I have never been so upset as a gamer in my entire life.
Starting with all the FPS games released like Halo, Call of duty, Bioshocks, Battlefields etc. From apps like facebook, netflix, hulu,etc. and now advertisements. I’m sick of it all. Just like the movie industry in which all they do now is freaking Superhero movies.

I’m Done. Nintendo is done for with there abandonment of there consumer base who bought the WII. They are not buying a WII U especially at there 400 dollar price range. Period.

As for PS3 not porting over PSN games we paid for onto the PS4 and it not being backwards compatable I’m not buying it.

Lastly Microsoft. Well I gave up on these clowns along time ago. They have not provided any Exclusive games for there machine besides the Halo and Gears of War crap. So why bother with them if I can get the same game experiences on other consoles including P.C.

This E3 is going to be the downfall of all consoles and its about time.


On April 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I have done most, if not all, of my modern gaming on the Xbox 360. I’m unsure at this point if I will even get a next-gen console, although if the idea of “always online” for the new xbox becomes a reality here next month, I’d assume just invest in a computer for any gaming I plan to do.


On April 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I’d say Ross Lincoln’s article is exactly why it would be a terrible idea. In fact, I just read about how America is still lagging quite far behind other countries in terms of average internet speed. As bad as the PSN hacking was, I could at least still play single player for that whole time, and since most of my gaming is done offline, there wasn’t a huge difference. We’ve already seen individual games like Diablo 3 and SimCity have trouble with being always-on, so I don’t see doing it for an entire console as a good idea. Some might brush this off as just another thing you have to connect to, like a phone plan, but the difference is that the core functionality doesn’t require this. It’s understandable if a multiplayer game has to go offline for a while for maintenance or something like that, but when it means the entire machine would be rendered useless, I don’t see how any possible benefits of being online could outweigh that.


On April 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I’m not freaked out by it- I simply won’t buy their device. It’s that simple. Always Online has been a failed idea since it’s inception. As a form of DRM it is justly universally hated; it doesn’t work, violates the legal demand for goods to be “of merchantable quality” in my country (Australia; see the SimCity and Diablo 3 launches), and treats paying customers as actual criminals. Building this into a physical device is not only worse, it’s a terrible sign that companies absolutely believe UTTERLY they can abuse and demean customers as much as they want (and apparently they all DO want to abuse us), becuase the idiot customers will keep coming to them anyway. I don’t. I own a 360, but there isn’t a snowball’s chance in H3ll that I’ll get something with all THOSE attributes. If there weren’t alternatives (and there ARE alternatives) I’d get a new hobby. Why the h3ll put up with abuse? In my spare time? From the things I do for fun???


On April 27, 2013 at 1:18 am

“How freaked out are you by Microsoft’s plans to include an internet connection requirement? ”

Not at all

“Would it affect your decision to purchase the new console?”

Not really because I’ve already made up my mind not to buy the Nextbox.

“Is it unfair to people who live in rural areas with inconsistent internet service?”

Yes, it is. Microsoft is seriously over estimating internet capabilities in the US. A poll was just recently completed with the US being on the low end of average internet speed.

“Or is it something we should all just get over?”

No, because there is something bigger going on here.

My first thought goes to DRM. With this always on issue, people are forgetting that Microsoft is also trying to design the Nextbox to prevent second hand play. Leaked documents have shown that there is some sort of registration the first time you put a new game in. Which means when you guy a game secondhand and try to play it, you’ll be greeted with Error….oh…let’s say 135. Gotta make it a high-ish number so players dont think it was Microsoft’s primary concern (even though it is). So, what is Error 135 you ask?

Error – 135: Unable to play this game because it has been registered to another console. Please insert an unregistered copy of this game.

Now, yes, someone, somewhere will find a way to crack it. The easy way might be just as easy to catch, which might result in not being banned, but instead switched off. Another perk of always being online is they can track you through your console registration instead of profile/IP. They can just add that console registration to a blacklist and your console can no longer connect to XBL.

Anyway, the hard way would probably require some pretty sophisticated hacking, meaning not only modding the console, but hacking the cloud where all the data is stored, which means hacking Microsoft servers. Thats not something your average gamer/script kiddie will be able to do.

I’ll leave you with this thought. If this rumor turns out to be true, does this mean Gold status for XBL will now be mandatory? Think about it for a second, when a Silver member plays a game, they play it in “offline mode”. No other game represents this better than Dark Souls. If the Nextbox has an always connected stipulation, then wouldnt the idea of an “offline mode” be redundant? My opinion is Microsoft is positioned to make an announcement about major changes to XBL, either making Gold mandatory or reducing the restrictions on Silver members allowing them atleast basic access to online features. Which lets face it, either way will cause a sh!storm of such monumental proportions, hurricanes, Hugo (80′s reference), Katrina and whatever last years was that hit NY (sorry I dont remember the name) combined will pale in comparison to the storm of raw sewage that will rain down upon Microsoft.

If they make no such announcement, then you know for certain, that this whole “always connected” issue, is just about the DRM. Its just a way for them to prevent the playing of pirated and secondhand games.

Health Me

On April 27, 2013 at 3:07 am

If the next XBox is always online, I won’t get it. Simple as that. Microsoft will have saved me countless thousands of pounds that would have otherwise been spent on the console and a library of games, and I’ll just go back to playing Playstation more regularly again or getting back into PC gaming. A lot of people who wanted to get the system will obviously be upset, and justifiably so, but there are the alternatives I’ve mentioned or you can wait until internet coverage becomes more stable. Even then, you shouldn’t invest in such a ridiculous and unsustainable model.

Now, if the new Xbox (or in fact the current 360) suddenly introduced a system patch that made it always online AFTER it had been sold without that limitation, then there would be consumer uproar on an unprecedented scale. It would make the ME3 backlash look like Points of View with Terry Wogan. Even Microsoft aren’t stupid or shameless enough to do that, so we’ll at least know where we stand BEFORE buying it.


On April 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I have to admit I am very conflicted about the next Xbox. I have many friends who play Xbox live, I am even in a clan that just plays Halo. I cannot make a decision until the reveal.


On April 27, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I have loved Xbox since the original. That said if they do go online only I will not buy it period.
All I do is play Single Player games and that would really piss me off.


On April 28, 2013 at 5:57 am

I’m not freaked out, the day DLC become a serious part of the gaming industry I knew it was all down hill from there. The gamers slowly stopped making games and suddenly corporations and CEOs were getting their hands (and wallets) into the fray. As for my purchase, yeah, I was a serious Nintendo fan before the PS1. When I got FF7 though, I became a die hard Sony fan. Then I played Halo on the Xbox and I became a big Xbox fan, then the 360 and I became a Xbox fanatic. If the 720 is always on, I will absolutely not buy a new Xbox. I’m going to watch the announcement release, the second they confirm always on I’m switching it off. I don’t care about the games, the hardware, the ‘social features’, If it’s always on, it’s not in my home. Of course it’s unfair to people in rural areas, but people in those areas don’t have much money and corporations only care about one thing, money. Be rich or die is big businesses real motto folks, don’t kid yourself otherwise. Businesses are in business for one thing and one thing only, and it is NOT to make you happy, your life better or anyone healthier. This always on thing is actually funny to me. Anyone else remember a time when the people PAYING the money had control over what companies did? Like the Model T, ford said black is it. Consumers said it’s our money, next thing you know, Model T in green. Now and days, MS says always on. People say but it’s our money and MS says Ohwell. And for some reason people will just hand MS their money ANYWAY. What happened to consumer rights? Because more like consumer blackmail.


On April 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

@ Vivid
Spot on. What irritates me beyond almost all sanity is the fact that these practices could be easily stopped if people voted with their wallets and acted like sane people instead of crack addicts. Video games are not like the American health care system, where basically one’s options are pay the man or die. That’s an ineleastic system where the consumer has basically no purchasing power.

However, for reasons that I simply do not understand, a sizable portion of the gaming community treats video games and peripherals like they were chemotherapy drugs. They must have it, regardless of the cost or how totally s**y the service is or how anti-consumer the business practices are. Absolutely insane.

And guess what? EA knows it. Activision knows it. Ubisoft knows it. Microsoft knows it. That’s why this friggin’ anti-consumer garbage keeps happening, because a lot of our own have less self-control than a heroin addict.

Sometimes I really hate people.


On April 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm

It’s too early to tell if I should care or not, as we currently know nothing about it. That said always online is an automatic deal breaker for me and has been ever since I got burned by Diablo III. The USA’s internet infrastructure is no where near as ubiquitous as rich, insulated idiots like Orth believe, with many areas having piss poor if not zero connections, and many people just can’t afford another monthly bill.

Always online is a terrible policy that harms everyone, including any company stupid enough to implement it.


On April 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I come from New Zealand, and my internet works about 70% of the time. I want a console to work when I want it to work, not be subject to the whims of our unreliable internet.

All of my Xbox friends are of the opinion that if an always-online xbox comes to pass, then they’ll make the move to the PC like I did 2 years ago.


On April 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’ve been an avid Xbox player since Halo: CE released over a decade ago. I also own a PS3 and PS2 before it… But I prefer the games, online system, and the controller on the Xbox/360. I’ve no personal bias on the matter. It’s just personal preference.

However, if the NextBoX is always-on. I will not buy one. Period. End of story.

MMO’s aside, video games as a “service” that you effectively rent (until the publisher closes the servers) and not a purchasable product does not fly with me. I made that mistake with Diablo 3 and Sim City once already. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I do that for an ENTIRE CONSOLE. Especially when it’s unnecessary to it’s core functionality.

If I move or don’t have an active internet connection for whatever reason, I expect to be able to play the games and console I payed for. I’m not into a $60 purchase that’s really just a rental.


On April 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

@JawEsteban- Always a pleasure to hear a voice of sanity.

And it seems virtually everyone in this comment thread agrees; Always-on is a dealbreaker. We won’t be insulted or blackmailed. On top of the usually stellar writing, people who comment on these articles seem unusually highly endowed with fine mental health and self-control. I’d add self respect, but I think Jawa has hit the nail on the head; most gamers ARE actually JUST LIKE heroin addicts. Game companies can abuse them as much as they (bafflingly) want, and they just keep coming back for another fix. At least games (mostly) don’t seem to destroy our lives like Heroin does (MMO addiction isn’t pretty to watch)…


On April 29, 2013 at 3:10 am

@JawaEsteban – it doesn’t help that these same people stubbornly defend any and all output from their favourite developers while also aimlessly lashing out at those who actually have the critical thinking skills to analyse the practices without the blinkers of favouritism. See ‘lol’ or ‘magnetite’ as a perfect example of that.

Dave T

On April 29, 2013 at 5:54 am

I can basically see what Microsoft is trying to do here (if true obviously), they way they want the new console to work is exactly the same as Steam (without offline mode). It wouldn’t surprise me if you had to do full installs of software either, to reinforce the DRM. But that opens up another can of worms limited activation’s, jeez and i was looking forward to the new consoles too!


On April 29, 2013 at 9:26 am

When i compare my experience between the Original Xbox (which i love and still own) and the current generation… the 360 (nothing but a pain) has made me jaded towards the next “720″ no matter if it’s always online or not. I expect to see failures, and poor deigned hardware yet again ..and nothing but more shrugging by Microsoft.

If the always online is a reality, the only thing it ensures is I’ll never be a customer again.


On April 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Wow consoles are starting to blow..
Im not interested and neither are my friends. We only played 360 for the single player and split screen for multi. Our internet where we live sucks just like the majority of the usa. No way ill move just to please a consoles stupid requirements.. Only thing will change my mind if there was an offline mode…maybe without stipulations.


On April 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm

@chips – “it doesn’t help that these same people stubbornly defend any and all output from their favourite developers while also aimlessly lashing out at those who actually have the critical thinking skills to analyse the practices without the blinkers of favouritism”

Oh god, this. I’m one of the folks with the critical thinking skills (though my phrasing and composition seem to need a lot of work sometimes). It breaks my heart to hear people just lash out at me as I try to *protect* them by bringing problems to their attention. I don’t NEED to do it, I already got my own base covered. I do it because this is why we work as groups; so that the knowledgable/capable people (not necessarily me) can help out with what they’re good at, and people don’t need to be experts on everything. But!! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel- Gamefront’s own writers are REALLY GOOD nearly all the time, and we need look no further than the commenters on this article to see sane, capable, and self-respecting people. It’s good to be reading Gamefront.