Ubisoft Boss Suspects We’re Ready For “Always Online” Consoles

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.



  1. Orth said he wouldn’t buy a Hoover incase the electricity went out, does this mean the NexBox will run off broadband?

  2. I am always on as long as my internet connection is. To be fair, I am quite lucky since most times the connection goes down is for a couple of minutes only, and even then this only happens a couple of times a year.
    But yeah, not everyone has a stable connection; it’s not that people aren’t ready for this, I think the structure itself is not ready for it yet.

    • No. A lot of people aren’t ready for it as well. It’s definitely both.

  3. It’ll be like the SimCity launch, but for every game.

  4. Far Cry 3 had appalling network code – And that was just if you were trying to play the offline sp game!

  5. I really don’t get how anyone is bonkers enough to defend always online. Not only does it mess with my privacy and the perception of being in control of that. I also remember a couple of times bringing the ps3, a projector beamer and huge speakers to a vacation home to have some really loud fun in the middle of nowhere. With no Internet, as far as M$ is concerned those days are gone :-(

  6. I moved to Canada last January and for a good 6 months I had no internet.

    I played my PS3 games, watched DVD’s/Blu-rays etc for that period of time. Although it would have been nice to play online with friends back home, without the offline stuff I would have been pretty miserable.

    This is one scenario out of thousands in which, should always online become reality, the consumer is going to be left feeling a little bit nonplussed!

  7. Interesting that this is a publisher talking about being always-online, not a hardware vendor. If this always-online DRM comes in at a publisher level next generation, I’m going PC – great backwards compatibility with PC titles, supports all old consoles upto the Wii, and when the online services fail the hackers will likely provide cracks as needed.

    PC wins next gen, heard it here first.

    • I’ve been saying that for months, I only by exclusives on consoles now. Saving a fortune too, Tomb Raider and Bioshock on launch day cost me less than God of War

    • So how are those Diablo 3 and SimCity hacks coming along?

      • I see your raise, and call with Torchlight 2 and Simcity 4 ;) When the games have been coded to work online as these do obviously the cracks will either take longer or may not even be possible at all (you’d have to emulate the servers, for one), but thankfully the PC market is vibrant with alternatives.

        In the meantime, you’re stuck looking at some console version of an error 47 screen just to play the solo story mode of Assassins Creed XVII – It’s Got Dinosaurs In It.

  8. I’ll be sticking to PS3 and my PC then.

    I was just going to pre-order AC: Black Flag for PS4, but I guess I’ll save my money until I hear that it won’t require a constant connection.

  9. How can these people be so out of touch with their customers?

    My broadband connection is provided through my cable connection, if the company was to screw up it’s not unlikely that I’d lose both TV and Internet at the same time. And netflix would go along with it.

    If I was to assume that my PS3 wouldn’t do _anything_ without an internet connection I’d lose the ability to play games and movies (my PS3 also serves as my DVD / BlueRay player). I do enjoy the occasional book, and trip to the outside, but I also want my couch potato time.

    Remember when PSN was offline for a few weeks? Imagine the shitstorm Sony would have faced it hadn’t allowed us to play single player games during that time.

    Why would I ever buy a source of entertainment that is crippled so that it doesn’t work without something that I know isn’t essential for it to operate? That would be as stupid as buying a car that won’t start if the petrol station was out of coffee.

  10. This is, of course, coming from the company that completley alienated their PC customer base by requiring a constant internet connection to play, which backfired so badly they had to remove it, in order for the games to actually be playable.

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