We’re not ready for an always online console

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Rumors of an always online requirement for Microsoft’s next console began to swirl up again as Kotaku’s sources reaffirms the software giant’s plans. Whether or not this will actually come to pass is up for debate but after SimCity, the instability of Xbox Live! in the past and the unreliability of certain ISPs, this looks to be a bad idea from a PR standpoint.

Consumers are not ready for such a requirement. It only takes a handful of disruptions to cause a frenzy of bad press. From personal experience, I’ve lost power more times than I’ve lost internet but even in 2013, that’s not the case for everyone.

I understand the notion of “games as a service” but people are not comfortable spending $300 on hardware and $60 on each piece software only to have it rendered useless with the absence of an internet connection. I cannot think of any other form of entertainment that does that.

Netflix requires the internet to deliver content but that’s a small flat rate for access to a huge library of content. There’s no initial investment other than the hardware device you’re streaming with. And chances are you did not purchase that hardware for the sole purpose of Netflix.

Microsoft can do whatever they wish but if they wish to curry favor with consumers, they will drop and debunk this “always online” requirement as soon as they announce the next Xbox.

Durango & Orbis Rumor Breakdown

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Next generation console hardware rumors have been going on for awhile now. However, in the last week or so, the rumors have become very specific and are being parroted by reputable sources.

Here’s a high level breakdown of what they’ve been saying:

Rumored Durango (Next Xbox) Specifications

CPUAMD 8-core 1.6 GHz (x64)
GPUAMD DirectX 11.1 class GPU running @ 800 MHz
Memory8GB DDR3 w/ 3GB reserved for OS & 32MB embedded SRAM
Optical50GB 6x BD-ROM
StorageHard drive always present
ConnectivityGigabit, HDMI, Wi-Fi
ControllerUnknown

Source: Eurogamer, VGLeaks

Rumored Orbis (Next Playstation) Specifications 

CPUAMD 8-core 1.6 GHz
GPUAMD GPU derived from Radeon 7970M running @ 800 MHz
Memory4GB GDDR5 w/ 512MB reserved for OS
OpticalBlu-ray
StorageHard drive
ConnectivityGigabit, HDMI, Wi-Fi
ControllerNew design w/ LCD touch screen & biometric grips?

Source: Eurogamer (1 & 2), CVG

It looks like both boxes are going to resemble the PC more than ever. Does this mean I will step away from console gaming and move exclusively to the PC? After all it would make more sense financially thanks to the cheaper games. The answer is simply: no. Unless something ridiculous happens and Sony and Microsoft brings their first party exclusives over to the PC, I will continue to purchase consoles. The only question is: sooner or later? And that is dependent on price and games.