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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

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This Week's Xbox Live Outage Proves Always-Online Is A Horrible Idea

Posted on Sunday, April 14 @ 10:29:00 Eastern by Jonathan_Leack

During the afternoon yesterday Xbox Live went down in what seemed like an apocalyptic fashion. Gamers used to spending their weekends playing online with their friends or watching Netflix were treated to hours of having to find something else to do. It eventually came back up, only to treat paying customers with instability. Users across social media such as Facebook and Twitter reported random disconnections and severe latency problems throughout the evening.

These issues have happened in the past, but for the sake of the gaming industry it couldn't have come at a more opportune time this week. Heated discussions over whether online-DRM is a good idea, and more importantly if the next Xbox should use it have been commonplace lately. The device has been rumored to require an internet connection to provide any and all of its services. For Microsoft, it seems like the perfect way to attack piracy and keep people connected. For customers, it's a nightmare.

Microsoft's beloved Adam Orth—or Sweet Billy as he likes to be called—told consumers that people should just "deal with it". He argued that we're living in an age where everyone should have a fast, stable internet connection. He drew analogies to home appliances—because vaccuum cleaners are so much like gaming consoles—and quickly made it look like Xbox fans are going to be stuck with something most of them don't want next generation.

What he failed to acknowledge is that the service providers are the one gamers are worried about. What about when the service goes down and the hardware is rendered useless? This is a commonly overlooked problem that has affected every implementation to-date, from Diablo 3 to SimCity, has encountered in the worst way possible. These weren't small-time operations either. Blizzard has been making online games for over a decade and EA has as many employees as a small country.

To make matters worse, Microsoft requires a subscription fee for its services. Some people choose to enjoy their Xbox 360 with an Xbox Live Silver account, but they won't have that option anymore if recent rumors are true. So what will happen when Microsoft's service goes down and accessibility to everyone for everything is broken? That'd be the closest thing gamers have seen to the end of the world if it were to happen, and there's no way Microsoft can promise to keep its service up 365 days a year without hindrance. It showed it can't today, and it has proven it can't every year since it released Xbox Live.

As those who work in the service industry have been told for decades, the customer is always right.
Tags:   xbox live, drm


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