CliffyB Defends “Deal With It” – We Say “Wake Up”

Posted on April 17, 2013 12:00 AM by Brandon Mietzner

While the world eagerly awaits to hear about the features that the next generation Xbox will (definitively) have, we heard a controversial opinion in early April from a (now) former Microsoft employee, Adam Orth, who stated on Twitter: “Sorry, I don’t get the drama around having an ‘always on’ console. Every device now is ‘always on.’ That’s the world we live in. #dealwithit”

This comment was made under the assumption that this was the official Microsoft stance on the matter, and was corrected the following day by Microsoft Community Manager Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) who issued this statement: “We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers.  We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.”

Cliff Bleszinski
Gears of War mastermind Cliff Bleszinski

Those hoping the world would not see an always on requirement claimed a small victory, but that victory has brought an unexpected supporter into the fold on the side of “deal with it”; Cliff “CliffyB” Bleszinski. Late last week he posted on his blog site: “My gut is telling me that an always online future is probably coming. It’s coming fast, and possibly to the majority of the devices you enjoy.”

I intend to bring up a few quotes from Cliff because I believe it speaks to his character and why he chooses to defend the “deal with it” argument. This isn’t the first time he has supported or said something controversial. While doing my research for this article I came across a video, only 14-months-old, in which he states: “My opinion, I want consoles that are fully connected; if you have a console that maybe requires some sort of broadband Internet connection then we can get back to having $40 games that are just 8 hours and just cool.”

That statement resonates his support for “always on” with consoles, because – what is the best way to prevent piracy or used games, in turn leading the game developer/publisher to earn more money? Imposing a system that is similar to the PC’s CD-key, requiring it to be linked to a certain account and connect to a server every time someone wants to play, without losing that Internet connection.

I have to ask, why can’t people or businesses learn from their predecessors in this industry? The best example of “always on” that I can provide is that of Ubisoft and its failed attempt on the PC with all of it’s games using it, especially the horrible launch of Assassin’s Creed 2. Techgage’s own Rob Williams posted a news release telling readers “Don’t Purchase Assassin’s Creed 2, where he pointed-out that the main problems are not just on the users-end but Ubisoft’s as well.

That was such a botched attempt that the “always on” DRM was later dropped by Ubisoft; it only took 2 years of plummeting sales on the PC and no additional pick-up on other platforms to clue it in. Don’t think that will happen to big-name company like Microsoft, Sony or etc? I am sure that you have heard of Blizzard; it has created and operated the most successful MMO of all time, World of Warcraft. The company released Diablo III on the PC back in May 2012, which required an “always on” connection to play, and of course, the issues there have now become legendary. Let’s also not forget the recent SimCity debacle, almost entirely a direct result of the always on requirement.

SimCity is the most recent game to suffer from the “always on” requirement

The world, hell – not even one single country, is ready for a “always on” requirement. There are too many ISPs that just don’t care about its aging equipment and not enough effort is being put into the PC-only “always on” games to warrant an attempt with consoles yet. The only reason I see Cliff Bleszinski backing this is because he sees dollar signs. In another blog post he made in late February of this year, he said: “Every console game MUST have a steady stream of DLC because, otherwise, guess what? It becomes traded in, or it’s just rented. In the console space you need to do anything to make sure that that disc stays in the tray. I used to be offended by Gamestop’s business practices but let’s be honest… they’re the next Tower Records or Sam Goody. It’s only a matter of time.”

To you Mr. Bleszinski, I say “wake up”. The writing is on the wall; this a ludicrous idea and anything that forces even a small margin out from playing games is a bad idea. Trust me, you don’t want me to get started on why this is bad for the Armed Forces and those living in rural areas or even upscale urban areas, because you will not be able to say anything that this is good for them, unless you find a way to pay for their Internet.

  • Stetson

    Even worse… this guy talks about “tricking players into thinking there is more content” in the linked video.

    What I think people really haven’t talked enough about is the fact that if always on becomes a thing, people who are overseas like me (and military) at the moment will likely be forced to buy from local markets, and with local restrictions. At the moment, I can Paypal a purchase with Steam. If I was forced to go through the Korean system, I would be forced to get a Korean credit/debit card, which comes with so many restrictions for foreigners that I have refused to do so for the now 3+ years I have been working in this country.

    For US residents (and some Canadian?) broadband has been capped. That means this constant stream of DLC, streaming movies, and music stores like iTunes are slowly pushing the average consumer more and more towards those caps. Always online DRM is just piling another straw (albeit a light one) on to an already over burdened broadband connection that is inching its way towards the caps that ISPs were already claiming were to high to ever be reached.

    To his DLC comment I simply ask: Why have developers still not realized that digital distribution is a thing now? Why is there a disc in the console at all?

    Do these people really believe that can continue to ignore Gabe Newell?

    • Kayden

      The Military angle was something I wanted to touch on, I served in the Air Force myself, but this was a news post and not an editorial so I kept many of my opinions out of it. I know I touched on it, but you’re right Stetson I do think that discussion should be on the table. Trust me, if I had the chance to do a Q&A with this wind bag or any one else supporting this, I would certainly ask that tough question and demand an answer.

      I don’t personally have a broadband cap but my brother does and I am 100% against a download cap of any kind, it’s like overages on a cell network it doesn’t need to be there other than to be a money grab.

      As far as digital distribution on the consoles, I don’t see that being viable market until the manufacturers will allow HDD expansion based on customer needs rather then presets of predetermined size at 3x the market price for a HDD you can put into your PC. The caps would play a major role here as well. These problems would hit even closer to home to those homes that have more then one gamer or people who enjoy streaming content to their home. Netflix is all ready proving to be a beast for ISPs (and TV services alike) going digital distro would make the problem even worse so it’s in their best interest to push for it not to happen.

      Also, it wouldn’t mean lower prices for the consumer only the publisher, just look at Steam for the proof in that, even with Valves own games. Sure the PC can see $50 or even $40 game here or there, but the AAA games that are popular are still $60 on the PC when there is no reason for it. I know Steam takes a cut, but it’s not as much of a loss when printing all those manuals and etc.

  • DarkStarr

    It isn’t even always on dammit. I wish we could you know post facts. Like how its only always on in the sense the 360 is. If you have XBL it wants to be online all the time but the games still play without internet.

    • Rob Williams

      “It isn’t even always on dammit.” The article didn’t say that it was. “except its not true.” How can you say it’s not true when Microsoft hasn’t announced anything?

      Most people consider “Always On” to equal “Internet Required For All Operation”. It’s a term that didn’t even come about until certain games required an Internet connection for normal operation. No one has ever called the Xbox 360 “always on”. Diablo III, SimCity and even a simple game like From Dust were “Always On” – Internet was required to play. So yes, when rumors float about that the next Xbox will be “Always On”, people are going to assume it’s DRM-related.

      • DarkStarr

        I understand but like I said people are running around saying the next xbox is always on etc etc whereas that is just not true. “Durango itself will also always be online like any other device (correct with rumors), but it will not be a requirement to play local content and it will not prevent playing used games.” and then “The rumors of “always online required” comes from the smaller Xbox unit which may not have a disc drive and like Apple TV it would require a network connection and internet to provide any real functionality.” The real “always on” console will be the “Xbox Mini” since without a disk drive, IF it does have storage for GOD games then you need internet to get them not to play them so still not even truly always on. Anyways I don’t believe Microsoft would be that blatantly stupid with the recent XBL outage as well as the SimCity and D3 crap. They already shot themselves in the foot on Windows 8 but are clearly backpedaling on that as well based on info about the new service pack (or whatever it is). I will admit it is POSSIBLE but very extremely unlikely.

  • madmatTG

    I think that there may be some confusion going on too. There’s always on and always online. Always on is like my DVR. Sure I can switch it “off” but it’s never really off. It’s not running the signal generating electronics and most of the lights are out but it’s still on. It’s waiting to record a show or two and it’s waiting to serve up content to my other receivers.

    I have a feeling that the 720 is going to be the same way. When it’s off it’s still on. On in low power mode waiting to spring to life in an instant when the power button is pressed. Sort of like a PC in sleep mode but probably more like the DVR. I say that because it would make sense to have it searching for updates and the like when it’s in a low power state.

    As to always online, well, Adam Orth never really said that it needed to be always online. On, yes he hinted that it’s always on like so many things we use nowadays. Online, not so much. He just got interpreted as saying that.

    • Kayden

      Rob said before that the term “Always On” has been coined to refer
      to an always connected state in which to play a game, that’s the exact
      wording that has been used and thus is reasonable for that to be
      considered the context of the statement because nothing else was said to
      disprove that term in that statement.

      I do agree Adam Orth did not say the 720 was going to have “Always On”, he just said he didn’t understand the drama surrounding the possibility but that isn’t where the tweets ended. He later went on to say “Why on earth would I live there?”, when he was asked about unreliable internet in other areas. The shock and dismay from this story stems from the fact a (former) Microsoft Employee didn’t care about those gamers who have no choice and have to live with semi-reliable internet at best when weather conditions aren’t perfect. The fear was that statement could have been Microsoft’s official stance and it wasn’t, thankfully.

      Do I think “Always On” will happen? At some point in the far off future defiantly, but it’s arrogant presumption to think that EVERYONE at this point has 100% reliable service when there are millions of customers in rural areas with DSL that is pushed beyond its limits or satellite because ISPs refuse to upgrade the infrastructure because there isn’t enough of a profit for them.

      Hell, I live in a urban area in Southern California and I have Verizon FiOS, where I have to call every few months for one reason or another and go with out service for days. To be fair there are many devices that use the internet but they don’t require internet to be “Always On”, this isn’t even possible for cell phones, could you imagine requiring internet to make a cell phone call or text msg? That would be a nightmare.

      I don’t mind if a console connects to the net for other services, but there should always be a offline option to play a game. There is just no reasonable argument that could be made, not even for the 60% of the market they look at, that could justify this move. The only conclusion that I can personally see is that publishers want more control of the used game market so they can keep selling its games at the highest price point it can for the longest time possible.

      The reason the retail price drops quickly is generally because no one cares for the game and trades it in. The other way to combat this is link the game via a cd-key to the account but then that would mean only that one account could play it on the console and that opens a whole other bag of nasty. There is no easy solution but supporting one where gamers have no control over a 3rd party service is stupid.

      This would also adversely affect Military members deployed in forward fighting areas or even remote locations around the world. These areas have NO personal internet and these people at the very least should not have to worry about this. Thus I am of the opinion that if ANY company supports this, it is bad for everyone. At the very least for our serving brothers and sisters.

      • Rob Williams

        Yes, exactly. No one ever referred to things being “Always On” until it came to this DRM.

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