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I despise always-online. I refuse to invest in any game that is completely dependent on having an online connection. It requires more than just a game, system, and the electricity to power them. It also necessitates that the triad of your connection, the game's servers, and the online service you're using to all be up and running, and if any one of those three go down for any reason, the game is absolutely useless to you. And eventually the game's servers will be shut down for good, rendering your game a $60 coaster (or a waste of HDD space if you purchased it digitally).

What's especially annoying is that many games that force always-online could have easily been tweaked to where they'd be able to be played offline perfectly fine. For example, Bungie could have easily tweaked Destiny to be playable offline, as most missions are playable solo. Likewise, I don't see anything that could have prevented Ubisoft from making The Crew playable as an offline single-player title (Forza Horizon does the open world racer just fine without online).

It seems to me that always-online games are designed specifically to hook players into a social gaming experience, one that they'll sink more hours into than they would for other types of games, one where the player is making some kind of recurring payment to the publisher (subscription fees in MMOs, and now microtransactions/F2P systems in "live service" games). AAA publishers increasingly want to make fewer games, games that get the player hooked and then milk them for as much money as possible.

Honestly, a lot of the bullshit we've seen out of the AAA publishers over the past two generations is due to the advent of online connectivity. And it's that bullshit that sometimes makes me wish the internet as a popular communication/distribution tool should have never existed. I can't say online is all bad, and it has done some good things. Playing with others online is far more convenient than getting a LAN session together, plus you have a larger pool of players, and the ability to patch a game after launch, while it may also encourage devs & publishers to be complacent and develop a "Just ship it even if it's broken since we can fix it later" mentality, can keep a game that's broken at launch from being broken forever.

But far too often it's done some things that are absolutely horrible for gamers. Even something seemingly innocuous and super-popular can have far-reaching impacts on an industry that's all to eager to chase trends and centralize control over the product. For example, PUBG and especially Fortnite has convinced publishers that battle royale games should be their primary goal. A popular online-only, multiplayer-only game where they can hawk microtransactions. But there can only be so many of those kind of games that can be successful. Resources that could have funded quality single-player experiences are instead funneled into making the next Fortnite or the next Destiny or whatever. Single-player games that are playable offline are still popular, but they can't be monetized post-launch, so the likes EA and Activision continue to pursue "live services" at the expense of other kinds of games.

"Live services," loot boxes, and all the other insufferable bullshit we've seen this generation was enabled by and probably an inevitable consequence of the ability to play games online. Publishers found new revenue streams, and sought to exploit them for all they're worth. Fortunately you still have companies like Nintendo, Sony, and even some third parties like Bethesda that continue to invest heavily in quality single-player experiences, which, despite some protestations to the contrary from some big AAA third parties, are still doing exceptionally well, as 2018 clearly showed.

Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 28 February 2019


In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").