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Ubisoft: Market ready for always-online services

Ubisoft: Market ready for always-online services

Mallat qualified his comments by saying that always-online systems would require good support and benefits to always being online.

The gaming market is ready for always-online services and hardware according to Ubisoft Montreal studio head Yannis Mallat.

Talking to the Guardian, Mallat suggested that the market is most of the way there already, but qualified that the question would be better put towards hardware manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony.

'I would say that a lot of people are always online through other devices. I would suspect that the audience is ready,' he said.

He also stated that a decent level of support needs to be implemented in order for online services to be viable.

'As soon as players don't have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that those services bring,' added Mallat. 'These services need to provide clear benefits.'

The comments come in the wake of Microsoft executive Adam Orth failing to understand why some people might be a little sceptical about the prospect of the next Xbox requiring a constant internet connection, stating that if anyone wasn't happy with this setup that they should just 'deal with it'.

That this statement comes from a prominent figure in Ubisoft is a bit of a surprise as the company abandoned its notorious and unpopular persistent-connection DRM last year, having run it on prominent titles including Assassin's Creed 2, The Settlers 7 and Anno 2070.

Always-online services have also been a hot topic of conversation in the gaming media thanks to the spectacular launch of SimCity which was plagued by server outages and frustrated players. Maxis and EA argued that being online was a core part of the title and that it would not work without it, despite fast-acting modders proving them wrong by making the game run offline. EA's acting chief executive Frank Gibeau even went as far as to state that the game was an MMO.

36 Comments

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Phalanx 16th April 2013, 08:28 Quote
And what the hell would the worst publisher in existence know about this?
Gunsmith 16th April 2013, 08:34 Quote
yeah cause thats going down well isnt it?
Phalanx 16th April 2013, 08:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
yeah cause thats going down well isnt it?

"I love always-online singleplayer gaming!"
- No one. Ever.
proxess 16th April 2013, 09:06 Quote
Ubisoft: keep telling yourself that.
mi1ez 16th April 2013, 09:13 Quote
Well, looks like city-boy has fairly reliable internet!
Snips 16th April 2013, 09:20 Quote
Just a quick question, How many of us here disconnect our internet connection for single player gaming?
Harlequin 16th April 2013, 09:24 Quote
blizz trail blazed the way , and sorted the issues they had - EA did there usual and messed it all up badly , then blamed everyone else.
Phalanx 16th April 2013, 09:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Just a quick question, How many of us here disconnect our internet connection for single player gaming?

That's not the point. What happens if your service has an outage? You're not allowed to play a game you purchased.

What about if you're on a laptop and have no connection at the time?

The problem isn't when we disconnect it ourselves manually; it's when the service has issues and stops you doing what you're doing, even though it has no bearing on what you are doing other than being an annoying system. Or there is no service at all, as per laptop.
Adnoctum 16th April 2013, 09:43 Quote
I want to thank Ubisoft for their always-on DRM. Thanks Ubisoft.

They have changed they way I buy and enjoy my gaming. I used to have to wait and save up to buy the games I played, but then when I had an income I had the means to immediately sate my gaming needs on release.
But Ubisoft has taught me to deny myself the games I want to play, and this has helped me to regain my old skills of patience and simmering anticipation with other publishers, and the savouring of old classics rather than gorging on the shiny new baubles.

I rarely buy a game on release now, and will wait a while for the kinks to work themselves out. And I'm happy with this! Meanwhile, I am working through my back catalogue of unplayed Steam games, and just completed SiN: Emergence (what 13yo modelled those huge, bouncing boobs?). I just purchased System Shock 2 on GOG, and I've downloaded some mods for it. What do I need Ubisoft for?

Soon Far Cry 3 will be $5 on Steam/GMG/Other and I will have to decide if $5 is too much to pay to inflict myself with Uplay.
damien c 16th April 2013, 09:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adnoctum

Soon Far Cry 3 will be $5 on Steam/GMG/Other and I will have to decide if $5 is too much to pay to inflict myself with Uplay.

$5 is to much for Far Cry 3.

Even if it was free I would not touch it, since I have tried to play it after paying for it.
Corky42 16th April 2013, 10:07 Quote
eVoPhantom 16th April 2013, 10:13 Quote
You know what? I would not mind this online requirement if there was some kind of road map for the games to have the online need patched out once they felt the pirates had been stopped long enough. It is the thought that I can purchase something which I may well really enjoy and years later not be able to use when the servers have been switched off.

Yes I bought Sim City and suffered some of the connection issues but it was not a massive deal for me. I live in a rural area with a connection which is pretty horrendous and even that has not caused me problems yet.
Xir 16th April 2013, 10:13 Quote
If handeled the way Steam handles it* it's okay.
You play online unless you select "offline", and it works.

I can see there might be benefits to playing online (for some), but it shouldn't exclude the possibility to play offline
adidan 16th April 2013, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Just a quick question, How many of us here disconnect our internet connection for single player gaming?
* puts hand up *

The internet goes off when it's not being used.
XXAOSICXX 16th April 2013, 16:25 Quote
Here we go again. Let's just remind ourselves of something I bleated on and on about when D3 came out...

"Always-online" has absolutely ZERO benefit to the consumer and provides benefits ONLY to the publisher/manufacturer/developer.

Why are people so quick to defend the limitations imposed on us by publishers with the argument that it doesn't affect them personally so why should they care? If it doesn't affect you, then great, but it still doesn't offer you anything POSITIVE whilst, at the same time, negatively affecting others, so how can you argue that that's a good thing?

It's ridiculous. Single player gaming->always online->lots of people stop being able to play through no fault of their own.

Some people DO live in rural areas.
Not everybody lives in the UK/US.
Many people on deployment with the armed forces enjoy gaming.
Lots of people endure a long commute on a regular basis.

And 3G/4G dongles are not the answer.

We shouldn't need to be always online to play the single-player portion of the game, even if many of us are.

</rant>
rocknroll237 16th April 2013, 16:50 Quote
Always on internet is one of the worst ideas I've heard.

It will limit the amount of people who are able to play games (e.g. people living in a rural area with an awfully slow or unreliable internet connection), the amount of people losing data because of outages will cause mass frustration (as it already has in Sim City) and what happens when you want to play a game somewhere where there is no internet?

Extremely stupid idea Ubisoft, get real.
rollo 16th April 2013, 18:58 Quote
Diablo 3 is an online game not really sure how playing it single player is getting the best out of it so thats a null argument.

Starcraft 2 is effectively online only ( was till blizzard made an offline version of which heart of swarm breaks again ) dont see anybody complaining about it.

Ive played mmos for 10 years + and never had any issues if you care that much about been online then you make sure you live in an area with good connectivety. ( kids who live at home with mam and dad are already online on Xbox or PS3 )

Yes theres been some issues Anno 2070 ( which if you want to play correctly needs an internet connection ) had some launch issues, Sim City did also, But not heard a whisper of complaints about Anno 2070 since launch.

People just hate EA enough to complain, Whilst D3 had so many players there was bound to be issues ( none that i personally saw)

Ive played the 4 biggest online games in the last few years and all have been fine for the most part.

Sim city Issues at launch now runs fine

SC2 Issues at launch with login server now runs fine

Diablo 3 issues at launch with login server now runs fine

World of warcraft game did not allow registrations for 18 hrs due to a major reg issue it was fixed i played the next day and got a months free time for it.

Future is here im connected 24/7 anyway with either phone or tablet.
XXAOSICXX 16th April 2013, 19:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Diablo 3 is an online game not really sure how playing it single player is getting the best out of it so thats a null argument......snip...... if you care that much about been online then you make sure you live in an area with good connectivety.....snip.....Ive played the 4 biggest online games in the last few years and all have been fine for the most part.

Are you for real?

Not everybody has YOUR particular set of circumstances. Not everybody has YOUR particular set of tastes.

I live in the UK...I have 120Mb cable....my net connection is "always on".....but I still see the perspective of those who do not share my circumstances.

My father, for example, works in Malaysia, and has to live there 48 weeks of the year. He plays games as much as I do - 5/6 hours a day - except his connection is up and down like there's no tomorrow.

He plays Company of Heroes (amongst other games) daily - a game most would see as a multiplayer/skirmish RTS - and, thankfully, he can do so offline with the disc in. You might see that as pointless, but I can assure you he doesn't. When his net connection dies - which it does frequently - he can continue to play "offline". This is how it should be.

Should he simply move back to the UK to get a better connection? Perhaps he should give up his six-figure salary and live back over here just because the likes of Diablo 3 don't let him play the game uninterrupted.

Have a think about the wider world before you casually instruct people to "live in an area with good connectivity". If my ISP gives me erratic service and I can't get it sorted, do you suppose I should just sell my house (which is in negative equity, thanks to the recession) and just find somewhere else to live because a damn publisher can't live with me playing their game offline?

What nonsense. What you are suggesting is selfish and naive.
Adnoctum 16th April 2013, 20:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
[Passive Aggressive Paraphrasing]Arguments about why always-on doesn't affect rollo in the slightest. These arguments are valid for rollo and gamers just like rollo who use the Internet like rollo does and play the games rollo likes to play. rollo then extrapolates that soon everyone will live just like rollo does now, and that 24/7 connections will be a normal human condition that everybody will want and have access to.[/Passive Aggressive Paraphrasing]

My reply is not really aimed at you, but using your post to rebut the "It doesn't bother me"/Adam Orth argument.

My situation illustrates MY position on always-on.
I live in a technologically advanced country near a major metropolis with a population >5million people. People in some parts of my country have 100mbps fibre connections, and talking about faster.
Can I get copper-wired Internet? Can I *$#@!
Can I get 3G/4G? Not any more, not since the dominant telecom provider mucked around with their tower network and the signal strength plummeted.

My "choice" is satellite (with the stupidly high prices and latencies and stupidly low data allowances, oh and the signal can drop out regularly with atmospheric changes) or move to a new house. I have lived at my current location since everyone (including me) was using dial-up to access the Internet - I don't want to have to move just because the same dominant telecom won't remove the pair gain set-up they installed 30 years ago, or upgrade copper of the same vintage in the storm-water drains (they call them "ducts", but I know better!). Great "choices".

I am lucky because by chance I found a small ISP that had a Wimax tower about 20km away, and although I'm not in their coverage area and the signal is "marginal", it is far better than satellite. It is faster and cheaper, the data is reasonably generous, and it is (for the most part) always-on. It suffers from atmospheric drop-outs - Wimax doesn't like moisture (or trees, or moist trees) so very high humidity, low clouds and heavy rain will cause the signal strength to drop too low to maintain a connection.
I can browse the internet quite fine, download large files quickly and Steam games in a few hours/overnight. I rarely notice the limitations of the connection.

What I can't do is stream video (360p) without halts to buffer the stream. For YouTube this is fine, but HD films? The latency is marginal for MP games. It is do-able but hit/miss and not really enjoyable. I'm not fussed because I don't really like MP games.

So, my always-on Internet connection isn't always-on. And I'm not alone. There are many others who, for various reasons, don't have an always-on connection, and despite our "connected culture" and advances getting ourselves even further "connected", aren't going to have that always-on connection any time soon. There are even some luddites [witches!! burn them!!] amongst us gamers and enthusiasts who don't WANT to be connected 24/7.
Personally, I would get a fibre connection to my home if I could, but there is no pagan god who will hook me up, I've already tried and wasted a perfectly good goat.

If game makers and console makers want to make always-on a requirement, go right ahead and good luck to them. Just don't expect me and others like me to buy your product if I can't use it. I don't think we are going to be an insignificant number to ignore.
rollo 16th April 2013, 20:57 Quote
I know your reply is aimed at fokes like me but that is alot of the gamer population now.

On the pc at least the biggest sellers are all multiplayer games now a days and as the market heads towards this the single player only games will get less and less.

Football manager is my favourite game because it does not need an Internet so i can play it away from home which I am with work alot. But most the countries I vist now have stable Internet and there's a few that don't but in my line of work we vist 1st world countries only that could afford our tech.

But let's be honest would a game like bf3 have even been made as just a single player game when a report by ea said more than 70% of the players have yet to even complete the single player game.

Metal gear solid, final fantasy series. Skyrim style games are all great games single player but they are a dieing breed.

Even the most look forward to game on these forums planetary annihilation has no single player campaign and will only come with a skirmish mode offline.( wonder how many actually knew this before they pledged to it)

Once again I don't here an outcry over the fact that you will need to be online to play it unless skirmish mode is good enough for you.

People seem more inclined to moan at big companies like blizzard ea and ubisoft but they are hardly the first publishers to do it.
Adnoctum 16th April 2013, 22:04 Quote
But no one has a problem with needing an always-on connection to play BF3. You can't use it without a connection - it is an essential requirement. You can't keep using MP games as a reason for always-on DRM on SP games.
Nor can you use the "we'll always have a connection anyway" excuse either. It is plainly a crutch to justify having it, that ignores the reality that NO ONE has an always-on connection (not even EA, Ubisoft or Blizzard the dimwitted fools), we all of us have a MOSTLY-ON connection, although some of us have a "usually-on" or even an "occasionally-on" connection.
The reason there are so many complaints is for the SP experiences where the requirement is purely and only to restrict your ability to play the game. There is no other function to always-on for SP games.

Secondly, I'm going to call nonsense on SP games being a "dying breed". What a load of rubbish, and would you care to back up such a ludicrous statement? As long as there are people buying SP games there will be people making SP games. And people will always like playing SP games.

Also, I believe* EA when they say 70% of people haven't played SP BF3 . . . because it is a steaming pile of crap that I haven't even played so I am relying on hearsay for my opinion.
No one bought BF3 for SP, unless they were pecking at their keyboard with their nose because medical authorities had fitted them with a straight-jacket. Nobody sane will be buying BF4 for SP either.

(* Naturally within certain sensible limits considering they are compulsive liars)

If a game requires an always-on connection - I'm not going to buy it. If a game is MP only - I'm not going to buy it. If no more games are made SP or with an off-line mode, then I'm no longer going to buy games.
This is not hyperbole on my part, I am not going to be a customer simply because the products will no longer interest me.
Maybe I will be that old fart yelling at all those young connected kids to get of his lawn with their 3D HD VR BS, but **** 'em, because I'll be the old fart with multiple redundant backup caches of disc images and install files and a spare room full of hoarded vintage hardware to run it all - I have enough stuff lying around to see out my pitiful lifespan.
rollo 16th April 2013, 22:11 Quote
Theres very few single player games with always on DRM thats the point i was trying to make.

Diablo 3 is not a single player game. ( you dont even have the data to play it offline as the games monsters are stored on blizzards servers)

The only game of recent memory is Sim City.
XXAOSICXX 17th April 2013, 08:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Theres very few single player games with always on DRM thats the point i was trying to make.

Diablo 3 is not a single player game. ( you dont even have the data to play it offline as the games monsters are stored on blizzards servers)

The only game of recent memory is Sim City.

That's the whole point!

There might be very few games that need "always-on" right at this moment in time, but it's becoming more and more common...Ubisoft...Blizzard....EA are saying "I don't get what the big deal is"....Microsoft and Sony are talking about it for their hardware....the point of the above arguments is that we're slowly creeping towards a position where it doesn't become something debatable and it becomes the norm and, at that point, I'll be making the same choices as Adnoctum with regards to my gaming purchases (albeit minus the goat).

I have no idea where you're getting this "single player is dying" idea from either.

A quick look at the Steam "Featured Items" slideshow (AAA titles only)....

Company of Heroes 2 (which will have a strong SP campaign)
Arma III (with a SP campaign)
Dead Island Riptide (with a single player/co-op driven campaign)
Bioshock Infinite (SP)
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (SP)
Skyrim (SP)

Doesn't seem to be dying to me.

So, if Valve do a u-turn tomorrow and decide that Steam will no longer have an offline mode, will no longer allow games to continue to play if your net connection drops etc, will you be coming online singing the praises of that decision?

As Phalanx said right near the top of this thread...

"I love always-online singleplayer gaming!"
- No one. Ever.
rollo 17th April 2013, 12:27 Quote
All the games you listed do not require an always online connection for the record.

So as i said at the start. How many True single player games have come with always online connection in the last few years. I can think of 3 Sim City and AC, SC2.

Cant name another Single player game with always online required.

People are making a mountain outta nothing, The main games that have setup to be always online were always going to be online anyway. Outside of the 3 i listed above there is very few games that have ever required it.

Most games require some form of authentication the first time you run them be it steam or origin after that they could not give a monkeys if you had an internet or not.

More and more commen would indicate more than 3 games that require permanent online internet to play. that were ever based for single player to begin with and not added on as a secondary concern.
Phalanx 17th April 2013, 12:41 Quote
I think you're missing the point, rollo.

It's not a problem with games that require authentication. I'm happy to go online, register a game on steam to prove I own it, download it, then play it. But if during my playtime in a SINGLEPLAYER game, my connection drops, Steam won't suddenly kick me out of the game for it.

However, games like SimCity and Diablo 3, which have a singleplayer component in them and require the machine to be always online, are the problem. There might not be a lot now, but the problem is if they become dominant, it will affect the industry dramatically. Relying on an always on connection, for something that doesn't need to be played online, is just stupid.

BF3 is a misnomer, as people go online to play multiplayer! That's the point of MULTIplayer. But if you play BF3's singleplayer and you lose your connection, the game doesn't cry about it and kick you out.

Imagine if one of your favourites, Football Manager, required an always on connection. You couldn't play it on a quick break without a connection, or on a plane, train, in a car, out at work during lunch. You would HAVE to have a connection, just to load a game that doesn't actually need one.

That's the point of this thread. We're not discussing games that are singleplayer or multiplayer, and which is best. We are discussing a SINGLEplayer component of a game that requires a connection just to play on your own!
Harlequin 17th April 2013, 13:13 Quote
you missing the point of this Phalanx - its about piracy.

if 50% of the game is kept online then you need to hack the servers to copy the AI and `mobs`
Phalanx 17th April 2013, 13:21 Quote
DRM kind of assumes anti-piracy. I didn't miss it. :)
rollo 17th April 2013, 14:20 Quote
DRM can be broken. If half of your content is stored on servers like Diablo 3 is then no matter what you break the game will not function.

If you have ever been on a wow private server and entered a raid zone none of the bosses do anything except melee attacks as the AI is disabled due to none connection to blizzard servers.

Sim City works alot like Diablo 3 does most of the City Functions are not even on your pc.

Thats why games like Sim City and Diablo 3 have never been Torrented as they are basically uncrackable. ( for a developer this is Win Win, They stop piracy and can control the content users are gaining access too)

Its the next form of Anti Piracy. Piracy is the real problem and till they find DRM that can not be cracked the paying customer ( aka us ) will have to put up with wierd and wonderful counters to it for example Always online connections, Or requirements for battle.net to be perm running in the background.

Always online is 100% better than the DRM that GTA4 on PC came with on release thats for sure, It was easier to run the game pirated than it was to run it as a paying customer.

One day eventually id imagine the worst will happen and all games will require an online connection but we are not there yet, We are not even close.

When every major release comes with it enabled by default then ill be the one helping you complain till that time I think people are worrying about nothing. ( only 1 game requires Online all the time this year and that was Sim City where now 4months into the year )
XXAOSICXX 17th April 2013, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
One day eventually id imagine the worst will happen and all games will require an online connection but we are not there yet

This is why some of us are so upset. As consumers we often conveniently forget that it is we, ultimately, that shape the future of the industry. Each small step towards "always online" leads us closer to the scenario above. Every time we buy a game that uses a method of DRM that's too intrusive we tell the publishers it's ok because we give them our money.

There is no point complaining about it once every major release comes with an "always online" requirement - because by then it is too late. So, us grumbling types complain NOW to try and help people to understand that it's not a good direction to be heading in, and to do something about it whilst we still HAVE a choice.
fargo 17th April 2013, 17:03 Quote
this will only work if it is done like its done on steam, where you can play steam single player games
online or offline otherwise single player games will take a big hit retail wise.
IvanIvanovich 17th April 2013, 21:38 Quote
The biggest problem I have with this is, as you know they will pull the plug on the server, so you spent $60 to rent the game for a few years and then it is totally useless. That is what is wrong with this system. You know most of them are not likely to release a 'patch' to make the game work for it's fans to keep enjoying after they want to kill the servers, it will just be the end.
I'm still hard advocate of there would be less piracy if they charged $6 instead of $60, make the money on volume not a smaller amount of higher value sales. They need to pull thier heads out of thier asses and use common sense to address thier losses instead of dreaming up ever more convoluted and annoying DRM systems to piss off the paying customers they have left.
Corky42 17th April 2013, 23:41 Quote
Always online games will more than likely lead to a decline in people buying game for all the reasons already put forward by everyone.

The sad thing is piracy is blamed for the decline in sales so they use DRM to address this perceived problem and in turn people buy less, so they turn to always online games thus causing people to buy even less games.

It seems like a slippery slope that will end with publishers hesitant to release games at all :(

Not that it probably matters but my vote goes to they way ID Software done it back in the day with DOOM, shareware for the first episode and pay if you want the rest.
XXAOSICXX 18th April 2013, 08:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Not that it probably matters but my vote goes to they way ID Software done it back in the day with DOOM, shareware for the first episode and pay if you want the rest.

QFT!
Harlequin 18th April 2013, 09:38 Quote
we have that now its called `F2P` - bulk of the game is free , but if you want any of the `cool` toys you pay in micro transactions.
SirFur 18th April 2013, 17:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanIvanovich

I'm still hard advocate of there would be less piracy if they charged $6 instead of $60, make the money on volume not a smaller amount of higher value sales. They need to pull thier heads out of thier asses and use common sense to address thier losses instead of dreaming up ever more convoluted and annoying DRM systems to piss off the paying customers they have left.

QFT

I'll be honest years ago, before HL2 was released and when I had a mere interest in games most of my games were DOS based or cracked copies I'd gotten through family/friends. I remember using http://www.gamestracker.com/ to help find cheap copies of games, but if I couldn't get hold of it for £10 or so (I was 2 years behind the current stock of games so wasn't looking at newly released stuff), I would end up getting a cracked copy.

However, ever since I got introduced to steam about a year after HL2 was released and some of kinks of steam had been ironed out, thanks to their at first infrequent sales, I've never had a cracked copy of a game since. The cheap nature of the sales is where I get most of my games now. Steam finally made me into a hardcore gamer who actually bought all my games. The crux of it is? Well the sales were so good it was NICE to have a full no hassle copy of the game for not much out of my pocket. 90% of my games collection has been brought from sales, and most of the games at -75% off. As a result, I have felt inclined to buy some games at higher prices at times. Price matters, just ask steam....I believe some games which had been released 2-3 years ago, when they went on -75% sale made MORE money that one time than all the years before put together.....so yeh price does matter....and I'm glad and happy to have contributed to that income, further reinforcing to those developers that if they treat us right, we will treat them right!
DLDeadbolt 18th April 2013, 17:39 Quote
Here's a lovely new article about EA:

www.techdirt.com/articles/20130417/08024722740/ea-shuts-down-social-media-games-without-refunding-money.shtml

My favorite part, and this is all about "Always-Online" games:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
If you have no interest in Facebook gaming, these closures may not seem so tragic. But keep in mind that the push toward online-only games doesn't stop with Facebook or with massive multiplayer games that have always been susceptible to shutdowns. EA's SimCity requires a server connection, which has caused all sorts of problems with the game's launch. The same was true for Activision's Diablo III. What happens when the publishers of these games don't feel like keeping them up and running anymore?

.....
Games that rely primarily on social constructs and multiplayer come with an understanding that they can't go on in perpetuity. But when the primary game mechanic is not social and the company still requires a connection? Well, that's just holding you and your money hostage, friends.
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