Cliff Bleszinski: Always-Online Future Coming Up Fast

Don't like always-on games or consoles – you know, stuff that requires you to be connected constantly to the Internet in order to use it? Well former Epic Games creative director Cliff Bleszinski thinks that there's no avoiding a future filled with always online requirements and he thinks it is "coming soon and it's coming fast." Bleszinski made his comment in a recent personal blog post – a space where he often tackles subjects that drive gamers crazy. Clearly this is one of them.

Bleszinski also thinks that former Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth’s recent discussion (via a Twitter exchange with a BioWare developer and friend Manveer Heir) on how always-online can work were not far off.

"Technology doesn’t advance by worrying about the edge case," he wrote. "If a service is good then people don’t mind paying for it. My iPad is always connected because I love browsing Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook. I love the ecosystem of iTunes and the App store. If the ecosystem of an always-connected device is fantastic then suddenly people don’t really seem to notice any more."

Bleszinski uses electricity as an example:

"When electricity came along and people had to have meters attached to their house they didn’t mind because they loved the idea of light bulbs, electric ranges, and refrigeration," said Bleszinski.

Bleszinski adds that -even if future devices do not require online connectivity "all the time," devices will still want to connect to the Internet to receive updates and check on the device:

"If we don’t have devices that aren’t fully always online you can bet your ass that we’ll have devices that encourage you to return to the online ecosystem in order to “check in” and make sure everything on the system is legit. Could you hack/jailbreak such a device? Sure, but that crowd will almost always be the die hard/enthusiast crowd that’s not the average user and makes up a small percentage of the potential sales."

You can read the whole thing here.

Source: Develop

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  1. Algus says:

    Its like he's backpedaling in his own statements.  No one minds connecting to the internet to receive updates, software, etc.  No one minds connecting to the internet in order to play games online.  The problem we have with always online is suffering an internet outage and having giant metal paperweights hooked up to our televisions.   

    You can use the analogy of electricity if you want and that's fine but the internet isn't a utility yet.  I do think Cliff is right that if they make a service that is good enough, people will come to it.  I still think Microsoft is going to be playing with fire if they proceed with the launch of an always-online console but they were willing to risk losing millions on the original Xbox to become a major player with the 360 and it completely worked for them.   If Microsoft thinks they can make this sustainable long-term, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they move forward with it despite it being poorly received.   

  2. hellfire7885 says:

    Heh, indeed, as much as I want to plat the new Sim City, EA isn't getting a dime from me.

  3. Neo_DrKefka says:

    Go figure Adam was talking to someone from Bioware they both have horrid customer service. Gamers can and will cut the cord when a company tries to over reach to much

  4. IanC says:

    Hes probably still upset that the original Gears of War was outsold upon its release by Cooking Mama 😀

  5. Keegs79 says:

    Everything that comes out of his mouth is stupid. I am not surprised anymore with what he says. His head has grown so big that a fantasy land has taken over.

  6. rma2110 says:

    Does always connected mean that I can play single player games offline? I sure can with my iPad. If you ate going to take something away from the customer, like the ability to play single player games offline, then show them the advantage of doing so. What does always online benefit me when I’m playing a single player game? I know I’ll get annoyed when XBL is down for maintenance. God forbid it should ever get hacked an go offline for a month. Why would Microsoft open themselves up to that.

    I think we will be able to play our single player games offline on Microsoft’s new console, just wait and see.

  7. lordlundar says:

    Clearly he's still bitter that the PC port of GoW didn't sell as well as he wanted and can't figure out why.

    Here's a hint Cliffy; IT WAS A HORRIBLE PORT!

  8. Michael Chandra says:

    It actually got me to buy part 3 of the Prince of Persia series: Was too much a pain to get the downloaded one to work, since somehow I had ended up with downloading 1 version while the code needed was for the other. But that wasn't the DRM, it was simply the difference between the #-CD and the 1-DVD version. So I ended up with the DVD version that came with DVDs for the first two games as well.

  9. Craig R. says:

    I, too, am considering the PS3 version if Diablo 3 since I have avoiding the PC version so far.

    And everything that Blizzard is doing with the console version shows that it could have been done for PC… they just don't want to.

  10. Technogeek says:

    I figured his argument was that the sales would be lost to piracy.

    While I'm not sure I'd go as far as say half, there is evidence that even making it take a few extra days to crack a game's copy-protection can cause people to give up on waiting and buy it outright. (Although having it available to purchase and play right away has been shown to have a similar "why bother waiting on that torrent to get enough seeds" effect, and such tactics avoid the loss of customer goodwill that such technologies can create.)

  11. Andrew Eisen says:

    Yep, I know several people who did not buy Diablo 3 because of the always on requirement.  I know of absolutely zero people who would refuse to buy it if it was not always on.


    Andrew Eisen

  12. Longjocks says:

    "If a service is good then people don’t mind paying for it."

    Yes, sir, thank you. But you can't throw your money at a service that doesn't exist or relies on something that doesn't exist.

  13. hellfire7885 says:

    Somehow I replied to the wrong comment.


    Anyway, Diablo 3 might still be on my computer if I didn't get booted from a single player game due to a net hiccup.

  14. Zen says:

    If it had left out the always on requirement, or at lease allowed me to have an offline single player/lan save (I believe you mentioned this before as well Andrew) I would have actually purchased this game.  They are doing this with the PS3/PS4 versions so I may get it now. 

  15. Andrew Eisen says:

    "I would bet money that without the always online elements of Diablo 3 that it would have sold half of that."

    I'd take that bet.


    Andrew Eisen

  16. Zen says:

    I say it's like this.  You can go anywhere in the world with a solar panel / battery, and you have power.  You CAN'T do that with internet.  Especially if it requires a constant speed and quality that people can not just "make" happen.  Power can be packaged and transported, it can be generated from any number of things.  Internet requires infrastructure that a large part of the world simply doesn't have.

    So I see NO resemblance to the spread of electricity there Cliffy.  Please go back to making games instead of politics.  That is all. 🙂

  17. Monte says:

    Don't go comparing high speed internet to electricity until high speed internet becomes as affordable and accessible AS electricity.

  18. Infophile says:

    Regulation is another good point. Many internet providers operate as a monopoly in certain areas, which allows them to gouge customers on prices and treat them like crap (*coughComcastcough*). This puts a big economic burden on customers for internet access, unlike electricity, which is quite affordable. If companies are going to require online connectivity, it should be as low a hurdle as possible for consumers, and ISPs should be made to make their service as reliable as possible (and something needs to be done about usage caps, as well).

  19. hellfire7885 says:

    Heh, my family has AT&T. I simply stopped using Netflix completely due to this data cap bullshit.

  20. Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    Completely agreed. That's millions of potential customers they would saying goodbye to immediately.

  21. Papa Midnight says:

    Comparing electricity to internet is a poor analogy. The difference between Electricity and the Internet is that Electricity, in the United States, is ubiquitous and rather decently regulated. There are multiple suppliers in some areas and it is distributed just about everywhere in the contiguous-48.

    Internet, however, does not have the same level of deployment. It also does not have the same level of reach or regulation as Electricity. Where as a utility may be required to wire every single building unit by a regulator, an ISP faces no such requirements (see: Verizon FiOS).

    Where as the Mid-West may be well covered with electricity (even in the most rural of areas), these same people have Dial-Up at best (to an ISP miles away) and Satellite at worst. Some of them may or may not have access to a 3G/4G provider, though that's spotty at best. One good update, even of an off-the-shelf game will definitely blow through the 10GB monthly cap (I'm looking at you, Star Wars: The Old Republic).

    He's not wrong where he indicates that focusing on such a subset could hold technological advancements back. The problem is that the minority is in the several-dozen-millions and will simply be left out if this moves forward.

    This doesn't even begin to account for American ISPs who have gotten usage-cap-happy (AT&T, Comcast in certain regions, Time Warner, Charter, etc.).

  22. hellfire7885 says:

    It would still be on my system if I didn't get kicked out of single player when my net hiccuped.

  23. ZippyDSMlee says:

    UUmmmmmmm rrriiigghhhhtttt. Take a hard look at your buyer base slice it in half and see if you can live off that for another decade or so until the internet catches up with you….

  24. IanC says:

    Oh do shut up Cliffy B.

    The moment gaming requires an internet connect just to play the games even in single player, for every game ever, is the moment i give up on gaming.

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