Microsoft Exec Sees No Problem in “Always Online” Video Game Consoles [UPDATED]

Microsoft Studios Creative Director Defends “Always Online” Hardware

by Anton Shilov
04/05/2013 | 04:45 PM

UPDATE: Adding official comments by Microsoft Corp.


Although it is hard to imagine the world without the Internet today and devices without the web access are considered archaic, the Internet connectivity in many cases is still unstable. Therefore while the Net is important for smartphones and tablets, it is not vital for using a lot of their functionality. Therefore, the rumoured “always online” requirement for Xbox Next seems to be rather controversial. As it appears, not for a Microsoft employee.

The third-generation Xbox will implement new power states so that it can always be powered on, but will consume minimal energy when not in use. The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current. With this “always on, always connected” design, users will be quickly be able to enjoy their games, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates.

The “always online” design brings a lot of good, but this feature will also inspire security and privacy concerns, given the fact that the Xbox Next will also require always-on Kinect sensor with cameras and microphones. Besides, “always online” likewise means that when the Internet connection is unavailable, video games will be unplayable. Yet another significant concern is that this “always online” feature will allow Microsoft to bind a particular video game copy to an Xbox Live user account and will thus destroy the market of used games. However, Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth does not seem to care about all those concerns in general and “always online” requirement in particular.

“Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always online' console. […] Every device now is 'always on'. That is the world we live in,” said Mr. Orth over Twitter, reports CVG web-site.

Manveer Heir, a BioWare designer, then asked Mr. Orth whether he had learnt anything from poor launch of SimCity (which has always online requirement) and what should people in regions with unstable Internet connection do with the “always on” term only to learn that “electricity goes out, too”.

While the comments on Twitter should barely be considered as official stance of Microsoft, the vision of a rather high-ranking executive may be in-line with those of his employer. Still, Microsoft quickly published an official apology.

"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," an official statement by Microsoft reads.