On Thursday in interesting conversation broke out on Twitter between two staff members from Microsoft Studios and BioWare after Kotaku reported that Xbox Infinity (720) will require an Internet connection to load games. An unnamed source told the site that if there isn't a connection, then apps and games cannot start. If the console is disconnected while an app or game is in use, they will be suspended after three minutes and the console will go into network troubleshooting mode.
The news shouldn't be surprising. Publishers like Electronic Arts and Gameloft require an Internet connection to verify the validity of an installed app on a tablet and smartphone even after the customer has downloaded all the necessary bulk files once the smaller, base app is installed. If you're on a plane flying across the nation without a Wi-Fi connection, these apps are useless.
Unfortunately, DRM rules the digital world in which we now live thanks to piracy. That's the stance Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth took after Kotaku's report went live and the tide of negative feedback began to wash through the industry.
"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console," he tweeted, presumably talking about rumors of an Internet requirement for Xbox Infinity. "Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit."
This comment didn't seem to sit well with BioWare designer Manveer Heir who jumped on Twitter to retaliate. "Did you learn nothing from Diablo III or SimCity?" he said. "You know some people's internet goes out right? Deal with it is a shitty reason."
Orth then pointed out in several comments that, just like an Internet connection, the electricity can go out as well as a wireless carrier's signal. "Sometimes the electricity goes out. I will not purchase a vacuum cleaner. The mobile reception in the area I live in is spotty and unreliable. I will not buy a mobile phone."
Meanwhile, Heir continued his stance by acknowledging that while Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are highly congested, highly connected areas, towns like Janesville, WI or Blacksburg, VA aren't quite as saturated with Internet coverage, making it hard for many potential customers to meet the Internet requirement. "Gamers live in non-urban areas too," he wrote.
He makes a good point. By imposing an "always on" requirement, Microsoft may be missing out on a large market of gamers who simply don't have that kind of access to the Internet. Unfortunately, Orth has seemingly verified the "always on" rumor, thus the new Xbox Infinity may be out of reach for many gamers this holiday season.
Later on, both apologized for their online banter on Twitter, saying that the back and forth comments are the norm for the two developers. "You should know we [Heir and Orth] are good friends who joke around with one another," Heir said. "Don't read too much into our back & forth... All those tweets you are seeing about the city being superior. That's him just trolling me. And I fell for it. Don't bust his balls on that."
Orth has now protected his Twitter account so that only confirmed followers can see what he writes. Meanwhile, The Workshop Entertainment Senior Designer Nikolai Mohilchock has taken to the Evil Avatar forums to hint a possible Internet requirement for Xbox Infinity.
"Given that legally I cannot confirm or deny if this information is true, nor can I comment on rumor or speculation, all I can say is be sure to pay your ISP bills," he said.
Thanks for that.
UPDATE: This article was modified to reflect that the opinions of Adam Orth and Manveer Heir have nothing to do with Microsoft Studios and BioWare. My sincere apologies that the previous version offended Orth, Heir, the two companies and their fans. - Kevin Parrish