Yannis Mallat, aside from having an awesome name, is Ubisoft Montreal’s CEO. He’s been talking to The Guardian about the company’s approach to the next generation of home consoles and when asked about the “always online” issue, he deflected briefly before asserting that he believes that users are ready for it.
I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices – I would suspect that the audience is ready.
This is quite possibly true. I’ve got devices specifically for streaming content through a broadband connection to watch on my TV. My smartphone is always connecting to the internet to retrieve my email and my laptop hasn’t even got a switch to turn the WiFi off.
But sometimes there’s no internet connection available and almost all of my devices (with the exception of something like AppleTV – specifically designed for streaming) still work to perform their main task while offline.
All of the above is anecdotal and specific to me, of course, but I don’t think I’m a particularly odd case (in this instance, at least!). The idea that an internet connection might be required for every new game I want to play is worrying, considering the debacle that was the SimCity launch (which is the context of the question put to Mallat).
I don’t want to have to struggle through authentication servers for a week after every new release – I want to play great single player experiences without announcing my presence to the world.
Of course, with pirates stealing unreleased Ubisoft games just last week, you can hardly blame the company for encouraging a more tightly controlled platform. PC gamers might remember Ubisoft’s last dalliance with constant required internet connections for DRM, though, and how badly that was received.