My PS4 Has Never Been Online, And I’m OK With This – Can You Still Enjoy Games Offline?

He asks: is one truly the loneliest number?

I never realize that the PSN is down unless I read about it on the internet. I say this as the proud owner of a PS4, two PS3s, two Vitas, and four PSPs.

 

This column started as an examination of my seemingly oddball opinions and practices, so here's one for you: my 60-gig PS3, which I use regularly, has never once been online, and the Slim has only connected for a few games here and there. My PS4, which I've owned since launch day, has never once been online. I grew up enjoying games I can play alone or with friends and family in the same room, and I still enjoy those more than anything. I've never even purchased a single piece of DLC.

Sure, sure, I've done the online thing. I've been there. I played years of Final Fantasy XI on my PS2, enjoyed NHL 2K series matches on that same system, put countless hours in Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast and later GameCube, among others. On PC, I did years of Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot — hell, I spent a year writing a weekly column about MMORPGs back in the day. Add up those costs and that amount of time and I've quite certainly paid my dues. (I could easily understand widespread fury if an MMO went down because that was quite literally the only way to play those games. Thing is, that was rare for long periods and usually came with unsolicited compensation.)

Weirdly, in times more modern, I've played my Vita online plenty. Why will I readily connect with a handheld, but not a console? Not sure, really. Maybe it's because the handheld version, in my experience, is a lot easier? Maybe I subconsciously dislike things on my console all being tied together (where they were separate before)?

(Can also be enjoyed offline.)

 
I understand people being upset, indeed I do. People paid for a service and they can't access it. At a time like year-end vacation, that has to be frustrating. But what puzzles me is comments that make it sound like online gaming is the only thing these systems can do. As a fan of science, I've been thinking about this and, in a rare twist,would love some input from you lot in the comments.

 
Is it a generation gap? Some of my favorite games of all time include Skies of Arcadia, Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy games of the PS2 era and earlier, Doom, Metal Gear Solid, Mario platformers, Castlevania… and a bunch of other stuff that sometimes has little bits of online content, but on the whole, are offline games. I know that fighters such as the MK I listed have online play in them, but the attraction for me was single player or fighting a friend.

Games like Disgaea have some online capabilities, but I'm not interested. I waited for Borderlands 2 to get a physical release that had all of its DLC included in the package, and I play it exclusively offline, cooperatively with my wife. While I've played sports games online, I prefer to play on the couch, on the same team as my brother. If I can't feel completely satisfied with the single player experience, I'm not interested.

I play shooters for the campaigns and I drive without being a member of a club. This sounds weird to you, I'm sure, but there was a time when we all did this.

 
So again I wonder — and ask for your help — is there a generational issue? Am I… am I just old? I grew up with Game Boy, NES, and SNES paving the road, then the original PlayStation gassing up the car.

 
What it makes me wonder is: would the people most vehemently complaining about the online downtime even have been game fans 10-25 years ago? I'm sure some of them are old enough that they were. And I'm sure some of them are old enough to have been, but weren't. I'm curious about the spread.



 

I'm curious about what games the most vocal critics played back in, say, 2004? Were they playing GTA: San Andreas, Tales of Symphonia, or Katamari Damacy? What did they play in the year 2000? Did they skip Majora's Mask, Perfect Dark, Code Veronica, Final Fantasy IX, Thief II, and Tony Hawk 2? What did they play in 1987, 1993, or 1998? Would they have completely skipped 1988's Super Mario Bros. 3? Heck, if we wanna get really retro, we could reach back and wonder if they'd have enjoyed the first gaming systems.

I liked those games and many more. Millions of us liked them. I still like them. Gamers begging for re-releases and ports prove that a lot of people still want them. And I still like new games that have no online components. Am I alone in this? Have I lost my mind? I look around online and see nothing but unbridled fury when the PSN or Xbox Live go down.

Is it a cultural thing? Here in Japan, few people ever seem to know about the PSN being down. I closely associate with gamers of all ages, from kids to college students to senior citizens, yet not one of them has ever known what the hell I'm talking about if I mention reading about a PSN outage. Even that one in 2011, that lasted a month, I never, ever, once heard a peep about it here.

 

Let me be clear: the network situation sucks, especially PSN. Sony sold a product with certain aspects clearly tied way too tightly to the internet and can't deliver. I'm not looking down on anyone who is mad about the situation. Just saying it's hard for me to relate.

 
If a game console ever went digital-only or online-only, I'd simply stop gaming and that would be that. This isn't a popular position, I'm sure, but again, the column is about my controversial opinions, so there one is.

Dragon's Crown offline multiplayer.
 
There are no doubt family situations that would favor online gaming. Being an ocean away from most of my own family, I can easily picture scenarios such as this. Is this you? Sound off. And is that your only reason for being mad about network downtime, or are there others. Help me get my head around it here.
(Sorry for so many disclaimers, but if I don't put them in, raging idiots will completely miss the point of the article and respond with flames instead of input and discussion.)
 

You know what's funny, as a related side note? Some people don't even realize that firmware updates are included on game discs. I said a year ago that my PS3 had never been online and got, rather ironically, called a liar by some people online who had no fucking idea how PS3 firmware updates work. Is this an example of just how thoroughly the always-online culture has penetrating gamers' thinking? Do some not even know that being online is optional? Ironic ridicule is part of The Most Interesting Life, I suppose.

 

But let's not make this just about me. Describe your own thoughts, situation, demographic, and outlook in the comments and let's get disgusting. I mean discussing. Discussing is what I meant.

Stay offline once in a while, my friends. It's healthy.