2013/04/13

Always on - is a good thing! Unless ...

Always on. Scandal. Microsoft getting bashed. A good man quit his job at Microsoft due to his Twitter slip - but he just stated the truth.

Whats going on? Why did this shitstorm happen out of a simple thing called "Always on"?

Always on means that the console in question needs an internet connection in order to work. I.e. if you don't have a connection you can't play. Usually that is the case anyway, so why the anger?

Case 1: Some people only occasionally connect their XBox to the internet. That happens on dial in connections or if the console isn't near the internet plug (note that old XBoxes didn't have Wifi).

Case 2: No or flaky internet connection. You will be surprised that a lot of people do not have a stable internet connection. This happens mainly at country side locations.

Case 3: Short internet service interruptions. That happens occasionally on thunderstorms or simply outage from hardware failures.

Case 4: Limited bandwidth contract. That is quite common in many countries - even USA. A console with is always on can't be controlled about the amount of data it sends.

If a game stops working simply due to the above situations then this could be seen as a fail. But as the console should offer a good service it should handle those gracefully.

In other words the game should continue to work even if the connection is interrupted - for a while. Of course most games require a connection due to online features, but that's another matter.

What matters is that the customer does worry that he can't play when he wants to. You know, internet usually doesn't work when you need it. This worry is what Microsoft has to get rid of. But so far their PR & marketing sleeps.

This always on isn't new. Uplay, Origin from EA or Steam had the same issue as also Steam. But they fixed it so no one worries anymore - but still the bad message exists and some people refuse to even install services like these.

So the fail wasn't that the Microsoft employee spread the news, the mistake is the bad handling of the user worries.

1 comment:

Sebastian Gail said...

Always on is not a problem in general. Its the way it´s handled currently. No offline options, publishers underestimating ressources...all those things raise worries and fears in customers minds. They do not trust publishers´ promises that they learned from the past and guess what? Blizzard has been proven wrong, so has been EA with Sim City. You paid the price for the game but your depending on the publisher to be able to play the game...that must not be, especially as there hasnt been a REAL reason for always on DRM in those cases. It was just for DRM reasons.

And what about the possibility that publishers turn servers off. Your investment is lost, you cant play purchased games anymore. So far this just applied to single games, but with the Xbox this may apply to a complete console...which worries me honestly.

Always on can be sucessfull but it has to deliver improvements to the user. Either in usability (so the forementioned problems have to be solved) or in regards of gameplay improvements. So far gameplay improvements are just "social features" and guess what...users often feel annoyed by these features and would turn them off if they had the chance. But they don´t. That´s the real challenge in context of always on. Not implementing it as DRM but as product improvement. So far, the industry has failed here clearly.