It’s always fun to see the world change. Most changes of the last decade revolve around the Internet.
It’s hard to imagine the world without the Internet. Where would you be without email? Google? Wikipedia? Youtube? Most students don’t know how to use libraries anymore, if these websites were to suddenly disappear, we’d be screwed.
But there’s the thing. Libraries still exist. If the Internet died, we’d still be able to function, if somewhat inconveniently.
That’s not true with games anymore.
IGN posted recent comments from XBOX ONE hardware developers about their thoughts on their Internet-only policies that were in motion a year ago. They still fully intend to implement that at some point. A online-only box, with no disc drive, download only, connect-to-Internet-every-24-hours-DRM, no model for used games. And one day, this will happen.
But that’s not the surprising part. Scroll down to the comments of that article and you’ll see that most commenters actually WANT this to happen. At the same time last year, there was enough hoopla and outcry about these rules that Microsoft took it back within weeks, having to completely change the software on the box for launch. And now? It seems over 80% of commenters actually want a online only future.
“… giving in to a always connected world that hasn’t been connected yet… “
Steam is the same. The most popular PC gaming service, almost all PC games, physical or digital, require Steam. And it is one of the worst forms of online DRM you can ask for. Connect once, and you have to download mandatory game patches that can be over a GB large before playing the game. Bought the game on disc? Steam will try to force you to download the game instead of installing the on-disc files, making the disc barely worth the material it’s made from. And yet, the world loves Steam. I can only imagine that it’s because Valve is a developer with a pristine track record, and they could do anything at this point without anyone giving them a second thought.
Some software companies are taking advantage. Unreal Engine has announced that their next-gen engine, UE4, will be available for only $19.99 a month, plus a small chunk of any profits you make. This is technically a price raise over the Unreal Engine SDK, which was $0 a month, plus profit percentage. But this is the latest in game engine technology, the same as the big boys use. Unity 3D also has a monthly subscription model, and with their latest (Unity 5) coming this year, it’s a good deal. Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk all have similar subscription models now, all at very affordable prices. The catch? You MUST be online. Else, it doesn’t open.
There are obvious merits to online-only. It’s convenient to not have to leave the house. It’s cheaper not to print physical copies, and hopefully those savings are passed on to consumers in some form. It’s a good thing. And it will happen.
Eventually. But not now.
Internet access still isn’t where it should be. Some countries still don’t have reliable access. Cities in developed countries still don’t have access. Bandwidth limits are still a thing. My home internet still breaks down every few weeks. We’re at least a decade away from solving this.
We all use electricity, phone lines, running water, and assume everyone we know has access to these things. We use that knowledge to assume certain things when selling stuff. But everyone has assumed that everyone in the world has unlimited access to high-speed data, and that is still only a fraction as accessible as other things we take for granted. Internet is increasingly being used to sell me stuff, for work, school and play, to the point where we can’t do any of these things without a consistent connection.
My response? The same as always… give me a small apartment hooked with high-speed Wifi, and I’ll jump on board. Otherwise, I assume there are still people without access, even if as low as 2% (much higher across the world). These companies are missing a huge opportunity by relying entirely on Internet access, and either they or the consumer will suffer until it is available globally. And yet, anyone with Internet access has given up fighting against this, giving in to a always connected world that hasn’t been connected yet. Oh well…