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Ubisoft Boss Suspects We're Ready For "Always Online" Consoles

"It's important to be able to provide direct connections between us and our consumers."

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.

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  1. Taylor Made
    Since: Oct 2011

    With far cry 3 dodgey online when co oping, ubi ain’t ready

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:48.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      And Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier… Lots of recent games have had dodgy online, when playing on PC…

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 19:32.
  2. bmg_123
    Since: Feb 2012

    When I used to play Battlefield Bad company 2 online a lot (racked up about 250 hours) every 30 minutes or so my connection would be lost. It’s a lot less severe now we have a new modem, but it is still unreliable sometimes and if games were always-online they’d simply be ruined by these periodical interruptions. Any game with this always-online NONSENSE (because why do we have to prove our loyalty to these publishers?!) will not receive my cash.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:48.
    • tantalus_blank
      Since: Nov 2008

      I’ve had a very similar problem with my broadband for the past few weeks. Always online drm would have driven me insane that whole time

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 23:36.
  3. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    He is correct, when my PC, Vita, PS3 etc is switched on, it is connected to the Internet, being ‘always on’ won’t make any difference to me.

    Unless my internet falls over.. which is the big problem no publisher wants to address. They keep avoiding this.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:49.
    • Bilbo_bobbins
      Since: Jun 2009

      which is why people shouldn’t accept it. If I buy a product, I want it to work when I want it to, not when a third party lets me use it.

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:57.
  4. parryman
    Since: Apr 2012

    I don’t have a specific problem with ‘always online’ as my ps3 is always online anyway.
    the issue is one that has been covered with the recent xbl outage.
    or even harking back to the great psn debacle of 2011.
    At least in 2011 I could still game, albeit offline, if my console was bricked for the month it was out I would have been less forgiving.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:53.
  5. aerobes
    Since: Aug 2009

    I’d be ready if the internet was ready but the fact remains that it simply isn’t. When I can’t even play a simple game of Fifa 13 across the Atlantic with my brother from one of the world’s biggest video game companies without there being quite literally more lag than game, there’s something sadly wrong. Utterly pathetic. And considering how much of that game is online based, it makes a very good game an extremely aggravating experience far more often than it should.

    It’s intensely frustrating to read things like this and experience that all in one day. When the internet becomes as close to 100% reliable as it can be, within reason, I’ll be totally behind it. Until that time, I’m not interested and it’s just plain dumb of fools like Adam Orth to expect and suggest otherwise.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:54.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      Not often I want a Like button but your reply is utterly spot on. :-)

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:55.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Yes. This ^^

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:18.
  6. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    I completely understand the control they want over things but it’s too much to hope for at the moment and I’d be seriously concerned how different regions around the world affects anything they do. My connection has been supremely stable (over the past year) but that doesn’t stop something screwing up. We only have to have a system go offline for a bit and everything comes tumbling down.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 15:55.
    • ron_mcphatty
      Since: Sep 2008

      Sadly my Internet isn’t extremely stable, it’s not a poor service but it does cut out a handful of times a week for a few minutes. It doesn’t bother me really, I can always use mobile Internet for browsing or email, I’m just not the always online type, so if I were forced out of games due to failed DRM checks I’d probably be a bit miffed.

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:10.
  7. yiddo
    Since: Jun 2010

    They seem to forget the fact of when internet isn’t available to people at all. Yes, when I have access to the internet my console is always connected to it and I am always signed into PSN, even if I’m playing a single player game such as Skyrim. But for example, when I went to Cornwall recently (where there was no internet connection, house just by the beach etc) there was no internet connection available to me at all.

    So if I was to have an always online console, I would have been denied a few hours of Skyrim, an offline game, purely because I just wanted to relax a bit and experience some interactive entertainment. Absolute bullshit. The publishers that speak out loudly about backing this are always the publishers who have tried to implement their own shady forms of DRM this gen, such as Capcom and Ubisoft.

    They think that going always online will eliminate pirates once and for all (it won’t) but don’t realise they’d also shut off quite a sizeable bit of their market who have an unstable connection or no connection at all. Hell, what about parents who buy their kids consoles to play the latest Skylanders etc game but aren’t happy with letting them connect to the internet. Ahh well, fuck them the mega publishers say. They can go do something else. They would be cutting off their nose to spite their face if they did this, and as someone who hopes to be studying Games Design at the end of the year at University, it’s disheartening to hear that this is the way that publishers want to go. ‘They’re in the money making business’ true, but they also aren’t in the shafting business.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:06.
  8. KeRaSh
    Since: Nov 2009

    Doesn’t matter if consumers are ready or not. Devs and publishers clearly aren’t if the release of any popular online only game in recent history is anything to go by. Unless they drastically increase the server capacity to handle all those simultaneous connections that occur during a launch they better keep their damn mouths shut about the topic…

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:07.
    • Klart
      Since: Jun 2010

      You’ve said. We might be ready, but they are not.

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:18.
    • KeRaSh
      Since: Nov 2009

      Also, if anything, the recent pirating of the still unreleased Far Cry3: Blood Dragon just shows how badly prepared they are. If their systems are that unsecure then it won’t be long until they get hacked Sony style…

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:19.
  9. jimmy-google
    Since: Feb 2009

    “Of course, with pirates stealing unreleased Ubisoft games just last week”

    Of course if it wasn’t for online it wouldn’t have been stolen would it?

    Personally I’ve found online to be the worst thing to happen to video games in a very long time, it has hurt numerous areas and continues to hurt more.

    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:21.
    • Peter Chapman
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      It wasn’t stolen because it was laced with DRM, it was stolen because it was sitting on their online marketplace. So… stop selling games digitally? But then, many games were being pirated long before there were online stores by people ripping discs and uploading.

      Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:40.
      • KeRaSh
        Since: Nov 2009

        But it shows how badly secured their online service is in general, which leads me to believe that some pissed off hackers will probably shut down their service once thei go through with their online only agenda.

        Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:48.
      • Severn2j
        Since: Aug 2008

        Ubi’s games are all sold via Steam too, so Uplay really only acts as an annoying extra layer on top of their games.

        Comment posted on 18/04/2013 at 09:13.
  10. hazelam
    Since: Feb 2009

    it may surprise you to discover, i’m not going to criticise him

    the man’s clearly suffering from delusions, and it would be unkind to attack him over that.


    Comment posted on 15/04/2013 at 16:28.

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