PSN and Xbox Live Attacks Show the Folly of Always-Online Games

From SimCity 2013 to Diablo III, always online single player games have caused gamers nothing but grief. This past Christmas saw the worst connectivity crisis in years, as Playstation Network and Xbox Live were both hit by hackers. The outage has caused severe damage, as new gamers eager to play their new Playstation 4 or Xbox One on Christmas Day were met with error messages before they’d even taken off all the wrapping paper. As long as problems like this are a possibility, always-online games will never be able to function as advertised.

Sure, the Xbox One and PS4 don’t require an internet connection to function (thank God). Even when you can’t use Netflix or download updates you can still play games – but not all of them. Many AAA titles like Destiny and The Crew are designed with network play in mind and aren’t even playable without a stable connection. The networked aspects of these games are vital to their core experiences, unlike the now-infamous Sim City, but regardless of the reason behind it they still become so much useless code when taken offline.

Sony and Microsoft have invested vast resources into the online features of their consoles, but as we’ve seen this month, that’s no guarantee. Christmas Day 2014 isn’t likely to change the minds of companies that are already invested in this model, but it should. In a world where a few random jerks with axes to grind can bring entire networks to a screeching halt, always-online can never become the standard that developers seemingly want it to be.

  • Neil Q

    Agreed 1000%. At the very least, there should be an added effort by game makers to add more offline, 1-player options in video games that otherwise require a net connection to play them.

  • Dirkster_Dude

    Can you imagine what would have happened if the XB1 ridiculous launch policies were in place about always requiring an online connection and not being able to use your XB1? I suspect this is part of the reason why they scrapped such a policy in the first place but needed an additional reason to get beyond the egos of the people that are no longer at Microsoft.

    • daizyujin

      This is still not taking into account that many parts of the system are still behind a connection wall that shouldn’t be. Why can’t I earn achievements and then sync with the cloud later? Why do I have to be connected?

      • Dirkster_Dude

        I don’t have to be connected to earn my achievements on 360 or XB1. I do have to sign into the console but not be connected to the Internet.

  • RandomDev

    This is part of why I only develop single player offline games.

  • Nonscpo

    Agreed always online and DRM seem like a good business concept, however these days whats good for business isn’t necessarily good for consumers :(

    • zidan40o0

      And what is not good for consumers would not be good for business because business is nothing without its consumers.