Alright, let’s all get our head pointed in the right direction for a moment. I mean, you would think we are all more or less aware of the concept of being online. I mean, you are reading this posting right now, which proves to me I already made my point.
What am I getting at? Simple. There is not a single night I can watch some television before I see some lady dressed in black-and-pink leather on a motor-cycle, telling me that T-mobile delivers such fast 4G. Verizon yells to have the most coverage, while anyone else does the same.
We want to be online. Always. Receive our messages on our phone, and we burst into a panic as soon as we lose reception. Or, when our TiVo boxes (or name your own provider’s set-up DVR here) connect to the web to find out what to record at what time.
We need to be always online. We demand it. And we expect it.
Unless, when we are into games. If a game tries to connect to the web, it is a sudden panic. Why does it need to do that? Why does the game company need me to be online? Gamers all around the world are fighting it, while, in the meantime their TiVo is recording their two favorite episodes of The Walking Dead.
Microsoft announced that the next XBox might contain an always online functionality, checking if the games are legally yours, and update them constantly. Another panic attack! Why does that need to be? But, in the meantime they have their PC on in the background, connecting all the time.
Is always online really such a problem? Nobody complains about the information stored and shared in Social Media games like FarmVille. But if UbiSoft or Electronic Arts want to check if you legally bought a game and update it when necessary, there is hell to pay.
Is always online necessary? I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that the always online is not frightening me, I actually want it. But it needs to be done well. I also don’t mind the DRM functionality to check if I honestly bought a game. There is no reason to be angry at that, a publisher has all the right to defend their IP, no matter what might be said about that. If it is always done right? No. But that is a whole other story. I am simply surprised about the whole anti-always-online lobby. Geez, I pay my provider to keep me always online. That is one of the good things compared to the 1400 baud modem I still remember crunching and beeping every time I made a connection. Brrrr.
And while I brought DRM up, here is another one. I have complained about people who demand that software piracy should be legal, because they simply cannot afford to buy the games they would like to play. Sigh. I like to fly in my own JetStream, still, I don’t claim that I should be, because I cannot afford it. But in the meantime people are outraged that the game industry tries to prevent piracy, mostly with a DRM functionality.
DRM is an extremely expensive endeavor. And these days, publishers add extra services to soften the deal for it. But it somehow is still seen as a bad thing. If the whole DRM thing could be forgotten, the price of games could easily drop up to 25%. Even more over time.
There is nothing wrong with DRM, it is good business. Sure, it has been done badly too, or it was underestimated, like Maxis experienced with the release of Sim City. Or how Apple did not use DRM for a long, long time, to make sure you had the rights to play it, but built into it made sure you could only play in on Apple devices. These, and some others, are of course rotten scenarios. But with the concept itself, there is nothing wrong.
The public opinion is just off balance for it. If done well, there is no problem with DRM. Nor with always online.
The biggest problem is, actually, the mix of always online with pirated software, that users have no idea about what kind of malware is coming along with it that can only benefit from the always online feature.
And then the last public inconsistency; which I picked up last time and is by far not an original thought, but it made me wonder; people are willing to pay $500-$1,000 for a brand new tablet, and replace it with every new version… but they only use it to play free apps in the app store.
I give up. I need some coffee.