Always Online Consoles: Good Or Bad?

Is being always online a good or bad idea for the future of consoles?

Some industry insiders say it’s a terrible move, while technologically, it makes things more convenient. It could also be a deciding factor for the next generation of consoles.

Starting with the pros, being always online means that your console will be able to update firmware on the fly, or even alert you to new contests that might earn you free games. The Xbox 720 is said to require an internet connection to operate, which might be useful in getting quick and easy access to technical support on the fly in case there is a bug in a game or the system isn’t working right. An always online connection can ensure that patches will be downloaded as soon as they are available. SimCity requires an always online connection in order to be experienced in the way it was intended.

Are you a regular DLC player? Being always online can make it easy to know when DLC might enhance the game before you get to a crucial point. Imagine getting toward the end of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and there is another chapter available that will give you even more missions. An always online connection will make it possible for Xbox Live to alert you to the possibility and download it before missing out on something that could have given the game a week’s worth of gameplay in addition to what you have already seen.

Now the flip side, the cons if you will, of needing an always online connection can be what keeps future console owners from buying that Xbox 720 they wanted. The PlayStation 4 apparently doesn’t require an always online connection, making it possibly the console of choice for owners who don’t want to be bothered with DLC and just want to focus on the core game itself. Maybe you’re just happy to have a high-definition single-player game of Tetris going.

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What if you just moved to a new apartment or house and your internet connection hasn’t been installed or activated yet? What if the only internet access you can afford is the local library’s WiFi connection? In a case like those, the PlayStation 4 is going to look a lot more attractive. If Microsoft does make the Xbox 720 with always online in mind developers may have no choice if they wish to make games for the system.

What do you think about the future of always online consoles?