Could You Own A PS3 Without Ever Going Online With It?

A thought experiment: It’s a month before the PS3 launch. You live alone, a recluse in deepest Alaska, a land of nothing but snow, grizzly bears and oil or a hermit in the Australian outback, watching kangaroos and vast expanses of nothing all day. You’re so isolated you couldn’t have an Internet connection even if you wanted to.

On your monthly trip into town for supplies you notice a sign announcing the PS3 launch. It triggers a memory of a time before your self-imposed exile, sitting with the original PlayStation and playing Gran Turismo and Crash Bandicoot, Pandemonium and Metal Gear Solid.

A month later you return, picking up a PlayStation 3 and the cheapest TV you can find, never having owned one before. The launch PS3 returns with you to your exile, never to see an internet connection. The firmware’s never updated and you never download anything from the Store. It’s almost as if you’ve got your childhood PlayStation all over again. The question is: can you still enjoy it?

We’ve touched on this in the past, with Blair sharing his experiences while in university halls, the network blocking his access to the PSN. But if you’d never been online could you still have a good experience with your PS3?

No sparkles for you, you big luddite.

This is the situation for a good number of gamers (according to Sony at last year’s E3 about 20% of PS3’s aren’t online), those who’ve never worked out how to connect their PS3 or simply never cared enough. They, presumably, still purchase games, and maybe even play Blu-rays, but that’s it. No Netflix, no online multiplayer, no store or firmware updates (except those forced onto them with certain games).

This sounds oddly pleasing if I’m honest, a simpler existence. Never having to worry about PSN maintenance or a patch appearing as you try to start the game, never opening yourself to the potential abuse that seems to come along with almost any online interaction these days – there’s a lot about it that appeals.

I wouldn’t even miss gaming online with my friends, something that I rarely take part in now anyway. For me gaming is something I like to do by myself most of the time, displaying my lack of skill often feels embarrassing rather than entertaining. There may be some readers, hopefully not too many, who remember the hilarity that ensued when I took part in a Killzone 2 tournament some years ago. My sheer ineptness was mildly entertaining for me too but more often than not I’m content to not show people just how bad I am.

There’s so much I’d miss though. Despite the issues I have with the PSN at times, I’d miss games like LIMBO and Journey, games that would never make it onto a disk (at least here in Europe). It would be near impossible to strike a deal with a publisher to get those kind of games on a disk, but online stores allow them not only to exist but to thrive.

I’d miss PlayStation Plus too, and the sheer value for money that it gives you. I probably wouldn’t have bothered to pick up Just Cause 2 or inFamous, even pre-owned. However, when they come as part of a subscription, a reasonably priced subscription at that, then it seems crazy not to branch out and try something new. I’m incredibly grateful to Sony for PlayStation Plus, and hope they can present a similar service when the PlayStation 4 rolls around.

Keep your £40, you're not cool enough for a gold plus sign.

Even so, to be content in my own company, to not have to worry about entering an online pass for a game or to never feel betrayed by a publisher because they decided that something would be better as DLC than as part of the game would be truly wonderful. Just imagine being happy with a game as it comes in the box, not worrying about whether or not it will connect properly or figuring out how to download whatever extras your special edition came with.

And consider the hermit in our thought experiment, never having known what it’s like to go online with his shiny new console. You wouldn’t miss it because you never had it. If you’d never once been online, if you weren’t even aware of what the PSN had to offer you, would you really feel like part of your PlayStation was missing?

Would games like Uncharted and God of War become any less satisfying because you couldn’t access the online portions? Would the wonders of BioShock’s Rapture or the emotional connections in Heavy Rain be lessened because you couldn’t flip over to Netflix if you so wished? Would even Gran Turismo or MotorStorm feel unfinished without the ability to showcase your skills online, to challenge your friends to cross the finish line first?

My honest answer has to be, surely, no. I don’t feel those games would be any worse if you could never take them online. I even enjoy Call of Duty and Halo without straying online, why should other games be any different?

Maybe I’m living in the past, but I miss that simplicity more than anything in modern gaming. Perhaps I should become the recluse in this thought experiment.

I hear the Alaskan tundra’s nice this time of year…


  1. You are only having this discussion because of the internet. It’s hard to find people not in real life that are that bothered about certain aspects of gaming. I have a lot of fun playing online games, I found a sort of family of like-minded friends online who I play with now and talk to regularly via twitter and forums and I think I would miss that without the internet. I play online games with my real life friends too but I do think I’d miss some of my virtual friends haha

    • That doesn’t read right I mean “its hard to find people in real life” not what I actually wrote haha

  2. I feel exactly the same. I wouldn’t want to lose it now for the same reasons you specified, not so much online gaming but for the smaller games and experiences I would have missed without Plus. I also like the patches and additional content of many titles. That said, if I had never had it, I don’t think I’d feel like I was missing it and there is an attraction to the simplicity that would come with that.

    I think the next gen is really going to be the first that feels like you are missing out without being online. I think the integration will be so complete that you’ll be reminded of what you can’t do at every turn. The few times I’ve taken the PS3 to family at Christmas or on holiday to a cottage in the country without internet it doesn’t feel like it expects a connection.

  3. I had a PS3 and it was never connected because my family could not afford the Internet. It’s fine really, enjoyable, simple and one just plays disc games and enjoys what they have to offer much more.

    The only problem is that with the PS3, more and more is the gaming experience being pushed online. Most apps are not pre-loaded on the machine, Certain encoder playback requires server authentication, most games have DLC, and some games apparently pass QA because they can offer a day one patch (when without the patch they are broken games). More games than ever seem focused towards online play than split screen play in this generation too. It all builds up to a gaming experience that is becoming richer online more than offline.

    The Vita again is something a little more suited to online. And when we mention online, quite frankly we all mean a direct console to server connection. The PS3 can be updated remotely via memory stick, but because of DRM, not much else other than that can be accessed.

  4. If we replace deepest Alaska with your home town, Kris, is this pretty much spot on for you? :-)

    • On a serious note, I wouldn’t have such a problem with the notion if developers had pushed out games that were stable enough to cope without an internet connection. There’s been some atrociously hurried launches and the massive day-one patches showed us that game-breaking code was in the hands of customers.

      However, outside of this, you go enjoy the wilderness, fella. Sounds blissful at times. :-)

    • No, people can find my house in Brighton.

      • Deepest Alaska… Brighton. I wasn’t far off! :-)

      • Needs more grizzlies.

      • Sshhhhh. Don’t mention bears. You’ll wake Tuffcub.

  5. I didn’t have my xbox online for 5 years and I didn’t mind it at all. I enjoy the single player experience and since I play a lot of RPGs it wasn’t a big deal. i have enjoyed playing online since I got it sorted but it’s not necessarily what I want to do when I turn it on. Your online experience will usually be dictated by who you end up laying with and if it isn’t good then you can end up wanting to turn away from it. That hasn’t really happened to me (apart from a few nasty messages because I beat people online) but if it does I know that I will be happy to play offline by myself

  6. HELL NO!

  7. I very rarely play online games, have only ever downloaded a few games/DLCs and am not overly fussed about chatting to people online.
    And yet, no, I couldn’t play my PS3 without an internet connection. Why? Patches. Developers have become lazy money-grabbers over the years, meaning most games are released broken, incomplete and in dire need of patching.
    I have recently moved house and was without an internet connection for just over a week. During that time I decided to fire up some of my offline single player games and found most of them to be very unstable and in need of fixing.
    Otherwise, internet gaming can take a running jump as far as I’m concerned as I much prefer my single player games :-)

  8. I’d be quite happy to go back to the days of no online.

    The only thing I’d miss would be ps+ but then I already miss split screen multiplayer a lot as it’s so rare this generation.

  9. If PS+ didn’t automatically sign me in every time i switch my ps3 on, i would be online about once a week for the store updates and that’s it.

    • I may well be wrong but i don’t think PS+ automatically signs you in, once you have the internet enabled in the PS3 settings it will auto sign you in.

      I don’t have PS+ and im auto signed in when i boot up the PS3.

  10. I have absolutely no interest is playing online so that side of it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, the biggest issue for me is how many games that get released that are downright broken and only work after several patches.

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