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DRM XBox (Games) Games

New Console Always-Online Requirements and You 435

An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
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New Console Always-Online Requirements and You

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  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo&world3,net> on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:21AM (#43565641) Homepage Journal

    The only winning move is not to play.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:29AM (#43565665)

      The only winning move is not to pay.

      • That's actually the better way to phrase it, given the record of such "always on, requires internet to let you play" schemes where you pay for a game and then you can't play for at least 2 weeks.

      • by sd4f ( 1891894 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:21AM (#43567057)
        That's funny, because according to gaben, when L4D2 was being released, the boycott group was actually one of the fastest purchasing groups of any. Gamers are probably the most fickle bunch around.
    • by TrollstonButtersbean ( 2890693 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:59AM (#43565779)
      The only problem is that, sadly, people aren't going to care. From DRM in games to privacy-exploitation in Facebook/Google/... people *will* buy and play these games.

      Most people have an internet connection available and might complain, but they'll go along with it. And game makers will get their live-DRM.

      It is going to happen and it won't be stopped. --- But this doesn't mean the end of the world, you personally don't have to go along with this and there will always be games on PCs, etc.

      But consoles?

      Yes .. their device, their rules ... and they have big marketing budgets.

      • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @06:37AM (#43566121) Journal

        People hate 'always on' DRM. No one likes it. Some hate it with a fiery passion.

        It's 'people' like you who assume the following:

        It is going to happen and it won't be stopped.

        That gives M$ the notion that doing this would work. Seriously, only because people like you exist, the "if you're getting raped you might as well enjoy it" logic people...fsk you and your notions of consumer choice.

        Platforms can die when the alienate their users and/or make bad business decisions, ex: Sega, Neo/Geo

        • Or a PC these days (Score:5, Informative)

          by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @08:04AM (#43566525)

          Seriously. Want to still play games, but the consoles don't do what you want? Use a computer. They are first-flight gaming platforms these days. Currently more powerful than any console, even with lower range hardware. You can also get games with whatever your DRM tolerance is. Being open platforms, developers can really do wahtever they like so you find it runs the gamut. There are some games with always-on DRM, Ubisoft is pretty (in)famous for that. There are games with DRM that requires you to go online to activate once, but then not again. There are games with DRM that kinda fades in to the background and is just part of the setup (like Steam). Finally there are games with no DRM at all.

          So you can play whatever games meet your requirements in terms of level of DRM. There's nothing being forced by a larger entity, and indeed because of the varied market it is easy to vote with your dollars and developers can see the result of that.

          So you don't have to wait for some alternative, there is already one here, and you probably already have the basics of what you need. A Windows PC (there just aren't many games for Linux at this point) with a reasonably modern processor is a good foundation, then knock a $100ish graphics card in and you are good to go.

          Yes you can hook it to your TV and use a controller, if that is what you desire.

          • I honestly love PC gaming, but it is not a total replacement for console gaming.

            Video and audio cable management for TV display can range from annoying to impossible.
            Controller configuration per game can be annoying.
            Navigation of a mouse oriented interface with a controller is painful.
            Bugs, security, and game requirements all need to be managed.
            Can not just pop in a dvd and have the software run.
            A $100 graphics card will not make all current gen games run smoothly, let alone next years games. Hard
      • From DRM in games to privacy-exploitation in Facebook/Google/... people *will* buy and play these games.

        "People"? There are also people who will not. And the people who will not represent money that can be made by a company that will treat customers with respect.

        Eternal success, or even existence, is not guaranteed to Microsoft and Sony.

    • by DThorne ( 21879 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @06:05AM (#43566013)

      It's evolution - either it survives or it doesn't, users will cave or they won't. MS will bring back the start menu or they won't - this can be applied to pretty much everything. So yeah, vote with your wallet, that's *all* MS cares about, like any other corporation. If there's some seriously flawed security issues in the implementation, make it public so users enjoying the service can be informed. But a "hell no we won't go... ONLINE!" flashmob? Please. Let the natural order decide and if it grinds your gears all that much best to buy an apple orchard and keep the local kids out of it - better use of your time.
      I use steam all the time, a PS3 less so, I get some value from being connected, but it's nice to know if I wanted to I have offline mode with steam. MS will likely give me less choice so I probably won't invest.

    • The only winning move is not to play.

      I like it. We're currently in the middle of a resurgence of PC gaming as a result of Steam distribution and the homogenisation (therefore dissatisfaction) of console titles. Mobile gaming is on the up too, again due to easier distribution. Anything that will push people back to these open platforms makes gaming stronger.

      It might be a "640k is enough for anyone" comment, but I wonder if we've turned a corner in hardware performance. Consoles used to have a big advantage over PCs in performance-per-dollar, bu

    • by Nugoo ( 1794744 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @07:28AM (#43566337)


      [...] I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it.

      This is the problem. Microsoft is a game publishing company, and the amount of control gamers have over their own games is essentially another price point. Publishers will put that price point exactly where the market will bare it, which means things will get worse until people stop buying games. So if you don't want things to get worse, don't roll over.

      Don't buy this console, tell your non-tech-savvy friends not to buy this console, tell your tech-savvy friends not to buy this console, and tell your tech-savvy friends to tell their non-tech-savvy friends not to buy this console.

  • Steambox (Score:2, Interesting)

    by redback ( 15527 )

    Steam basically requires an internet connection. Offline mode exists, but you need to switch it over while you have a connection, so its useless if you go offline suddenly.

    I have no reason to believe that the steambox will be any different.

    • Re:Steambox (Score:5, Insightful)

      by damaki ( 997243 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:39AM (#43565701)
      Err, no. This is not needed anymore. Test it: disable your connection, you can then switch to offline mode.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Err, no. Steam will "forget" you password after a day or two (in my case it was one day) and you will be left without being able to play untill you connect Steam to the Internet again so it can cache your password again. My internet was down for two months, I was able to play my thousands of dollars worh of games for a whole evening! :-)

        (I thing the biggest probl;em with the "always on"/Steam schemes is that the game will only be usable by one person. I have tons and tons of games, when one of my kids come

        • Re:Steambox (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anubis350 ( 772791 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:12AM (#43565821)
          Last year I moved to my grandmother's place to house sit for a few months while she was away. She has no internet, I was entirely reliant on my phone. My workstation stayed at my home, accessible remotely as needed via laptop+LTE from my cell (or starbucks), but I did haul my gaming machine out with me. It had no internet access for quite a while and steam offline worked just fine...
        • Re:Steambox (Score:5, Informative)

          by sourcerror ( 1718066 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:35AM (#43565903)

          When did you have this problem? Last year around October there was a major Steam client update. Since then I can go offline without an internet connection too.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I have had Steam longer than that, and I have used offline mode extensively, across multiple reboots. I have never had it magically forget my password. In fact, once I enabled offline mode and forgot to turn it back on for a few months. I found the experience more positive than online mode really, since internet connections in New Zealand are largely pretty crap.

      • Err, no. This is not needed anymore. Test it: disable your connection, you can then switch to offline mode.

        Did they also fix the problem where Steam goes into online mode when it crashes, so that it has to connect the next time you launch it? That bug persisted for many years, and it is one of the big reasons I removed Steam from my computer.

    • This has not been true for a long, long time.

    • Re:Steambox (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:31AM (#43565887) Homepage

      I also like how gamers will yell until they are blue in the face about second hand game sales and how important they are.

      And then they will turn around and talk about how "Steam gets it right", conveniently forgetting it was the first place that forbid second-hand game sales.

      • Re:Steambox (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Secret Agent Man ( 915574 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @07:27AM (#43566329) Homepage

        Steam also tends to sell games for dirt cheap, or at least below retail value. Being unable to re-sell off of Steam is bad, don't get me wrong, but the punch hurts a little less if I can't sell the $5 Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, as opposed to the $60 copy of HALO 4.

        In general (but not always), people tend to accept the lack of being able to resale as a trade-off for lower prices, digital download, etc. Maybe one day (pipe dream), Steam will set up an e-Used Game Market that Steam users could buy, sell, and trade games around with. I have no idea how legal it would be for them to do that (i.e. certain publishers might not like it, be able to stop it, etc.), but it would certainly alleviate a lot of concerns.

      • by tmosley ( 996283 )
        Yeah, but the games are priced like they are already secondhand. At least that's what I hear, I don't do DRM.
    • This has only been true for games that are online to actually play. The others only require on-line to originally download or register the games, to get updates, and to save your games. They also allow you to connect and download the game to any device you log in with, on any OS that the game will play on, and to save your games in their cloud. So you actually get something in return for being online.

      Interrupting a game to go offline is usually seamless, but not always, if the game is being saved and doing

  • Or you might just (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trifish ( 826353 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:27AM (#43565659)

    Use a PC for gaming and vote with your wallet (refuse to buy games that require internet connection).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Until you realize that almost all of PC games are sold on Steam, which is always on-line incarnate (off-line mode never works).

      • It's not only Steam. Basically any game may require a constant internet connection on PC. But at least it isn't baked into the only distribution channel available on the plattform...because there are a lot of them. GoG springs to mind.

        Let's not forget that Blizzard ran afoul of a German consumer watchdog because they hadn't printed the always-on requirement prominently on the box of Diablo 3. If this is done consequently we are able to avoid inacceptable sales conditions and vote with our wallets.

        If the
      • Huh? What games are you playing, I think none of the ones I own ever refused to run because no internet connection was available.

        • He's trolling and you bit. It's complete FUD that offline mode doesn't work.

    • "refuse to buy games that require internet connection" So basically the options are No Games or pirating all your games?

  • Solution is easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skiron ( 735617 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:34AM (#43565683) Homepage

    Just don't buy one.

    • Most sensible thing ever said in the whole discussion.
      I don't see why people has this compulsion to play games even if they require absurd things like always-on internet (which is a fantasy, there are a lot of factors that will cause downtime even in the best ISP-provided connections money can pay).

      I just wonder what's on everyone else's head.

      Seriously people, you have no self-control? We went from full titles to beta-quality releases requiring patching and with lots of DLC instead of actual contents. And y

    • I wish I could mod this up to 50:Sensible.

      Noone is forcing these people to buy the new xbox. Dont buy it. Simple concept, isnt it?

  • The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward.

    There's too much hysteria about this. I've not seen anything that suggests 'always on' is 'your console won't work if it isn't connected all the time'.
    • There's too much hysteria about this. I've not seen anything that suggests 'always on' is 'your console won't work if it isn't connected all the time'.

      That's what "always on" means. It's not literal, because pretty much all devices are "always on" and merely sleeping now. It means your console needs to be on the internet to work. And this is very much the indication Microsoft has given with their public statements.

      • No, it's what some people have taken it to mean.

        And what public statements are you referring to? All I've seen is computer game journos writing articles about something they heard on Twitter.

      • There was that EA bloke(who has now formed a queue for all the other EA people for dole money) who wondered what all this outrage over the always online thing was. He quite helpfully ignored the MEEELLIONS Sony had to pay over the PSN outage, the SimCity brouhaha and the hot water Blizzard found themselves in in Germany and Korea. And he wore a corporate EA suit as a product manager.
        If you see that kind of ignorance at that level then you do not find it hard to believe they really want to stick to the alwa
    • by BTWR ( 540147 )
      The problem isn't the "always online" part necessarily. The problem is the fact that a game disc will be tied to a single console, effectively eliminating the secondary market for used games like ebay, amazon and Gamestop.
  • by loufoque ( 1400831 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:41AM (#43565711)

    A hacker will provide a fix to remove that always online requirement. Problem solved.

  • That would make an xbox worth buying? I didn't notice one in the previous generation...

  • by zugurudumba ( 1009301 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:59AM (#43565783)

    Microsoft knows and abuses their user base. For example, all Xbox Live game servers are hosted by players. These players pay a yearly fee to MS, so that MS will grant them the privilege of hosting these servers and playing against other players. MS is basically getting free money.

    Rednecks who don't know better; Call of Duty dudebros; 13 year olds with gullible soccer moms - these are all people don't give a shit about always online and represent the core audience of the Xbox brand. They'll buy the next console without asking questions and they'll create the critical mass MS and publishers need in order to push always online.

    People who hope the PS4 will save us from always online are naive. Always online has always been the publishers' wet dream. They've been pushing for this for years. At the very least, MS and Sony will implement mechanisms so that any publisher will be able to impose the always online requirement for their games. And remember, MS and Sony are also publishers, and they're quite big publishers. Where do you expect people to go once all games released by Activision, EA, Sony, MS, Ubisoft and others will all require always online? How will you fight a cartel in its own walled garden?

    Blizzard games, Steam games, even the dreaded SimCity sell tens of millions of copies each year, despite the various types of (partially) always online requirements. Always online is here to stay and there's nothing you can do, because of the massive amount of people who will gobble this up without thinking twice.

  • Quite simple.
    Do what countless users and corporations have done over the last decade: if the latest and greatest is not so much better than the existing system, do not buy it, and continue using the older system and games built for the older system.
    All threats from microsoft, as in the win XP case, will come to nought. not even Ballmer, who has proved his, ah, "determination", will try to stem the flow when content designers will say: "the installed base of 360 is X million consoles, and they continue
  • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:06AM (#43565809)
    "As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it."

    And that's your problem right there. Why is everybody expecting that sticking to your principles doesn't need something in return?
  • ...there needs to be some benefit for me the customer.

    Does there? Or will people just buy it anyway and in some cases complain about it after their purchase?

    Always on is the content industry's wet dream, whereby the purchase model turns to a leasing model. This has huge ramifications.

    The time people will really start caring is in ten years time when the activiation servers are switched off and they can't play their games anymore.

  • Unplug it from power outlet and the network? Lets see if its ALWAYS ON then? ;)
  • You know? With the android mobile gaming market showing signs of serious growth and market presence, how is it they think they can milk the addicted gaming market for more that so many can tolerate? They want their $50-60 every time the disk media changes hands? When fun little games exist on Android devices for a dollar?! Really?

    I'm rather interested to see how badly the "big ticket" gaming market fails. Their greed will be the root cause.

  • It's bizarre, OK I suppose MS have done their homework, but why force this on consumers?
    Sure, I suppose nearly all of their target market has a connection, but even so, I can think of many use cases where that might not be available, including intentionally.
    For example, when my children were young, I was happy for them to be playing with consoles not connected to the internet, since I could control exactly what games they could use, (nice mix of fun & eductaion, all safe).
    Also, at home my internet conne

  • by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:42AM (#43565931)

    Steam only has DRM the publishers chose. You're free to support the ones who do things DRM free. Steam does not require a connection to play in any way shape or form.

    These are the facts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Steam only has DRM the publishers chose. You're free to support the ones who do things DRM free. Steam does not require a connection to play in any way shape or form.

      These are the facts.

      Well, no, those are not the facts. Those should be the facts, but in reality the fact is that Steam often reverts to online mode, especially when it crashes, which it does a lot. There is no excuse whatsoever for this behavior. It wouldn't even happen if Valve were competent. Actually, that's a lie. Valve can clearly fix a bug that is this pathetic, if they try. It wouldn't even happen if Valve were not doing this deliberately to force logins.

    • Not quite (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )

      Steam forces their own DRM, Steamworks, on all games. Unlike some other DD servers (Impulse for example) there is no capability to release a game without the built-in DRM. Publishers can use additional DRM as well, but Steamworks is mandatory.

      It's pretty low key DRM over all, most people are ok with it (I am) but it is DRM. You have to have Steam running and be logged in to your account to be able to play a game. You don't have to be online, you can cache your credentials and play offline, but you must have

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2013 @05:47AM (#43565947)

    What I hate so much about "always online" is that EVENTUALLY these companies are going to shut down their servers and people who want to play these games in the future will be screwed. I really do hope hacking solutions come out of this, otherwise you're going to have an entire generation of games that literally cannot be played in the future. Imagine if movies did that and you could no longer watch The Shawshank Redemption because its profitability expired a long time ago and it cost money to keep the movie servers running.

    If you think this won't happen, see how Microsoft has pulled the plug on multiplayer Halo 1 / 2 or Mercenaries 2. At least the single player component wasn't affected, but for future games, it will be. Over enough time, without proper cracks, these games will be IMPOSSIBLE to play.

    I hate this mentality of forcing everyone online with no recourse for when the plug eventually gets pulled. It's intentionally destroying culture in the name of profit, which I find immoral.

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      What I hate so much about "always online" is that EVENTUALLY these companies are going to shut down their servers and people who want to play these games in the future will be screwed. I really do hope hacking solutions come out of this, otherwise you're going to have an entire generation of games that literally cannot be played in the future.

      I hope not, they made their bed, they should sleep in it. If you get these 'hacking solutions', then it will only encourage further proliferation of such systems.

  • Microsoft is just using this whole always online thing to get everyone worked up so they are super focused on the fact that there is this onerous requirement. That way when they announce that it is not in fact going to be always on, the press will spend so much time focused on that they won't even notice that it's price is in the stratosphere unless you agree to a subscription regardless.
  • So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya?

    Are you fucking DAFT?! You have to connect the Ouya to the Internet AND give it your credit card information before you can even use it. It requires a mandatory firmware update out of the box. Then, EVERY game must be Free To Play in some capacity. As a game dev I want to like the OUYA, but it's shit. I can't even just put a full version of a game and demo version out and have you buy the game outright if you want -- Nope, instead I have to create an in-app-purchase and lock away features calling the locked neutered game a "demo", and then I have to check with the Ouya DRM servers before you start playing the full version of the game (better be connected to the Internet, always). Other games that are "free to play" and funded via in-app-purchased micro-transactions are roughly equivalent to "always online DRM", you doofus.

    Ouya == Free To Play PITA == Always Online DRM. You want to escape this crap?! So do I. Game on your damn PCs. PLEASE!

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @06:16AM (#43566053) Journal
    ...also "feature an always on", and they recommend that it's turned on so it can automatically update the system while turned "off".

    I have however - paranoid as I am - blocked the camera on the console with black tape, there's hardly any games using that camera anyway. 
  • ... let them do it. They fucked up with Win8 , lets just get the popcorn and watch them fuck up xbox too.

    People - an xbox is just a toy. If we were talking PC operating systems requiring always on then fine, that would be Bad News. But an Xbox? Meh, who cares. Its hardly a crucial purchase and hardcore gamers will use PCs anyway.

  • There is a benefit to the consumer: playing video games on the new Xbox. The consumer doesn't pick, in isolation, whether they want always-on connectivity; they choose whether or not to buy the whole bundle of good and bad design decisions that make up the Xbox. There is presumably a group of people who will move from wanting an Xbox to not wanting one because of this feature, but my gut feeling is that they won't be that numerous, because I think that the games, not the technical requirements, are probably uppermost in peoples' minds when buying a console.

  • Xbox360 charges for its online component. I figure I already pay for my Internet so why should I have to pay more. I didn't buy an Xbox360 last generation because of this. Always on makes me want to play even less so it looks like I won't be buying this generation either.
  • by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @08:35AM (#43566729)
    Is piracy really that rampant on the Xbox? Seems like every time I've heard about a new hack, M$ has been quick to fix it and ban hammer those exploiting it. You can't even clone a factory HD to a bigger one and pop it in without getting busted.
  • by fostware ( 551290 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:44AM (#43567625) Homepage

    There's the core market that take whatever dross is shovelled to them under a certain brand. They get sucked in to buying all the DLC even if it's just cosmetic or even maps from the last revision (no, they don't qualify as versions anymore).

    There's enough mindless COD sheep to keep the new consoles going for quite a while, meaning this will not go away this coming console generation or next.

I THINK THEY SHOULD CONTINUE the policy of not giving a Nobel Prize for paneling. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.