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Microsoft Creative Director 'Doesn't Get' Always-On DRM Concerns 572

New submitter SoVi3t points out comments from Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth about the debate over always-online DRM, brought to the fore recently by the disastrous launch of SimCity and rumors that the next-gen Xbox console will require it. "Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? 'Deal with it,' says Microsoft Studio's creative director. In what he later termed a 'fun lunch break,' Orth took to Twitter to express his shock at people who take umbrage with the idea of an always-on console. When quizzed by other Twitter users about people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.' He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out. While Orth later apologized, saying it had being a bit of banter with friends, it did raise awareness that there are more than a few people who are very unhappy with the possibility of an always-on future version of the Xbox. Orth has also now switched his Twitter account settings to private."
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Microsoft Creative Director 'Doesn't Get' Always-On DRM Concerns

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  • Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:36AM (#43367665)

    Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? Don't get one!

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:39AM (#43367675)

    Microsoft has a very long history of not understanding what customers want.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:39AM (#43367685) Journal

    He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out.

    So if we were to fulfill that analogy you would have to expect there are vacuum cleaners that already exist that run without electricity -- as almost all the games I own run without an internet connection. Now, a new vacuum cleaner comes out but it is required to always be plugged into the wall and it will only work if it is connected to a service that costs me a monthly payment. Correct, I would not buy this "new" vacuum cleaner as I have tons of old vacuums that somehow manage to get the job done without the need of electricity.

    Unsurprisingly I have purchased none of these always-on for the sake of DRM games.

    You're introducing a feature that none of your customers want -- a feature that complicates a product and causes them inconvenience for unclear benefits to you. A feature that introduces a new dependency and more moving parts to run the game. And how are you surprised, exactly, that there are many people upset about this?

  • That explains it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scotts13 ( 1371443 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:42AM (#43367709)

    See, I've always expected people like this don't ignore our concerns, they just can't comprehend we HAVE concerns. "I don't understand why you're all 'Argh, I'm starving!' Why don't you just get some food?"

  • by Kelerei ( 2619511 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:43AM (#43367713) Homepage
    To turn the article title around: "Gaming Console Users 'Doesn't Get' Always-On DRM Requirements". And based on the SimCity launch (there's been other examples, but this one is, in my opinion, the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back), this has been the reality for a long time.

    Adam Orth has quite possibly done a fair bit of irreversible damage for the next-gen XBox's prospects.
  • "Deal with it" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:43AM (#43367715)

    This is why Microsoft is losing market share and why so many analysts are worried about the company's long-term future. "Deal with it" seems to be Microsoft's mantra not just in the console market, but with Windows as well. They let their employees' pride and stubbornness override basic business considerations. Metro must be shoved down everyone's throat, even if not a single desktop user wants it. Because if they backed down, then the people who worked on Metro would feel bad, and we can't have that, can we? The thing is, Microsoft can no longer get away with this kind of behavior. They're being pressured in the consumer space by tablets and smartphones and in the business space by evangelists of "the cloud". Just as Windows started out as a toy and then grew to dominate the market, we may see the same thing happen with Android – especially since, as an open-source product, anyone (not just Google) can take it in the direction they see fit.

    Orth, Ballmer, and those who think like them are soon going to figure out that "deal with it" isn't an acceptable answer when you're trying to get people to buy your stuff.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:44AM (#43367731) Journal
    Whilst the customer isn't always always right, in this situation, the customer is. The customer doesn't want an always on connection. This applies to a lot of potential customers. Telling the customer they're wrong isn't going to make the customer change his mind. It's going to result in the customer not being a customer any more.
  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:46AM (#43367745) Journal

    I know that's what I'll do.

    He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out.

    This guy is proof that you can be a retard and still get into high positions in the corporate world.

    (1) A vacuum cleaner is almost a necessity, a console is a luxury. While there are other ways to clean a carpet, they are generally much more effort intensive.
    (2) you don't lose your state when the electricity goes out, with a vacuum.
    (3) electric is less prone to flicker than internet connection, if nothing else, because a flicker of electric will not cause the same for the internet. Excepting with UPSes, but these aren't exactly ubiquitous.
    (4) many people travel, and bring their consoles with them... They don't always get to bring an internet connection.

    Even if there were no other issues with DRM, this addition would provide enough to make it a deal-breaker for many.
    You can stick your always on DRMed XBox720 up your ass. Sideways. After adding spikes.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:46AM (#43367749)

    That is true, but this situation is even more perverse. They now not only have to pay to keep the server running but the second the next version of the console/game ships they have a direct incentive to kill off the old DRM server. So not only can they deprive you of your game, but they have an incentive to do so to get you to upgrade on their schedule not yours.

  • I'm not buying it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:50AM (#43367803)
    As a long term Xbox user, I can safely say that between the need for an always on connection plus the blocking of 2nd hand games AND the increase of per game costs forecast, I'm not going to be buying their next gen Xbox any time soon if at all. I love the 360 but whatever the 720 gets called is a huge turn off for me because of these issues.
  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:52AM (#43367819) Journal

    I doubt it will be any better of a selling point when Sony does it than when MS does it...

    And if you think Sony won't... do you remember the last time Sony had a chance to screw their customers for profit and control, with a reasonable (or even only slight) chance of success, and DIDN'T take it? Neither do I.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:53AM (#43367831)

    video games on a camping trip?
    that just seems so...unnecessary. so wrong.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lxs ( 131946 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:54AM (#43367843)

    That's the drawback of living in a society. Sometimes you have to suck it up and submit to the majority even if they are dumbasses. The whole agriculture, technological progress, culture and not being eaten by wolves aspect mostly makes up for it however.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:55AM (#43367851) Journal

    First, using the 'Gee golly shucks, that's just the way the world is' argument when you are part of making the world that way is a smarmy cop-out.

    Sure, it is realistic and pragmatic to deal with conditions that are not within your power to change. However, if you change the conditions and then tell anybody who protests to just be realistic, that's the way it is, as though the matter is somehow one of historical inevitability, you are a shirking little weasel.

    Second, during the exchange screenshotted here [] he responds to the "some people's internet goes out" argument with "Electricity goes out too". Yup, no shit. However(as I hope some MS datacenter or operations people will be willing to take him into the hot aisle and beat into him with spare rack rails) Downtime is additive. If somebody says "Downtime source A exists." the correct answer is not "Oh yeah? Downtime source B also exists!". That isn't a refutation, that's just a confirmation that your uptime will potentially suffer from at least two weak links, rather than just one. Every system-critical component you add is a component that can reduce your uptime. 'Always on', just means that MS' datacenter operations and the customer's ISPs are now system-critical components.

    Third, has this guy taken a look at any market penetration numbers for wireline broadband vs. cell-only users and console vs. PC gaming in less connected and/or poorer areas? Whether he likes it or not, Gaming, especially console gaming, is now cheap entertainment(per hour). It also requires minimal technical aptitude or interest, and has historically had low costs of entry and relatively low and flexible ongoing costs. Having adequate wireline broadband, by contrast, tends to require the sort of steady income and financial footing that allows you to keep on good terms with the phone or cable company each month, every month. Is he trying to alienate everyone who has some disposable income and a desire for amusement; but not enough income(or at least not enough stability) for wireline broadband, a golden retriever, and a white picket fence in the suburbs?

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:56AM (#43367871) Journal

    Five years from now, just two categories of game will be made: Multi-player for consoles, solo (with multi-player functionality) for mobile devices.

    I wouldn't be surprised if some of the "gaming by the numbers" studios and publishers move that way. But I can guarantee that the people pouring millions of dollars into independent Kickstarter and greenlight games, and getting DRM-free software written by devs who care in return, will still be doing it in five years.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:58AM (#43367901)

    That is not how markets work.

    There will still be single player DRM free games, they might not however be AAA console games. Smaller developers will take to this market in droves if it appears in anyway viable. As we have already seen via kickstarter and HIB this market exists and will pay. It however will not be able to fund AAA games, but the barrier to entry using tools like Unity is coming way down. We will once again have very small studios making the games we love.

    Personally I could not be more excited about that. No longer will our games be choices be limited to what is most popular, genres that the AAA publishers left to rot will be revived. Unless the only thing that matters to you is graphics you should be excited as well.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:00AM (#43367911) Journal
    people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.'

    Just because you make $100K+/year and live in an area which has decent broadband doesn't mean the rest of world does. When you make $40K/year, have a mortgage payment, maybe a kid or two, car loans, maybe student loans, having to pay anywhere from $70/month or higher for slow broadband is not high on ones priority.

    This dismissive attitude, "I have it so it must be the best thing in the world!" is symptomatic of the tech culture. People who are glued to their screens as they check their Twitter feeds every ten seconds, Facebook updates every 30, and can't wait to stand in line for the latest and greatest gadget which will works .01% faster than the last gadget you bought six months ago, live in a wonderland world. They have no clue, nor understanding, of people who don't care one wit about tweeting their latest shit or posting their latest cute puppy picture.

    It may be hard for those who are heavy tech users to understand, but there are large and vast numbers of people on this planet who don't give a flying fuck about what you're doing. Certainly some are technophobic, but a large portion of those people just don't care. The treadmill of upgrading equipment, having to figure out how to use the latest and greatest piece of crapware that some developer, or company, thought was the be all and end all, the relentless drone of having to be always connected or you're not living life to its fullest, doesn't appeal to them. They want to know: how is this useful to them (aside from online banking or research), yet no one can give them a good answer.

    The usual response is something along the lines of, "You can keep in contact with your friends!" or, "You can find out where to eat before you get to some place." I guess it never occurs to people who have grown up on the pablum of technology that if one wants to communicate with friends they don't need to tweet, "We're coming over in 10 minutes! LOL" to communicate. A simple phone call or prearranged meeting is all that is necessary.

    Further, one doesn't have to plan out where they're going to eat when they visit a place. Exploring can be fun in and of itself. Besides, if one wants to know where to eat, they can ask someone at a gas station or on the street. Granted, this means having to TALK to a LIVE HUMAN BEING, but that is one of the dangers we all must navigate.

    If you don't get why people may not have an internet connection, let alone broadband, Mr. Orth, then that says all one needs to know about you and your company. You live in a fantasy land with only the barest of tendrils touching reality. Your deluded sense of self-importance is a shining example of what is wrong in tech, yet its lesson will go unheeded because if you're not connected, if you don't have the latest and greatest gadget, if you're not spending every waking moment staring at 3" screen, then you're a loser, right Mr. Orth?
  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:06AM (#43367983)

    Bullshit. If gamers will put up with generation after generation of faulty hardware, and paid online services (as if a console is an MMO), they'll eat always-on DRM with a smile on their dumb little faces. Anything for Halo of War Duty VII, where they can share screams and racial insults with their prepubescent peers.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cnaumann ( 466328 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:08AM (#43367991)

    You missed the main failure of the analogy. A vacuum cleaner requires electricity. Anybody can generate that electricity. It does not require special electricty from the Hoover Corporation's electricity server. It would not be illegal to modify your vacuum cleaner to work off of batteries or a portable generators.

    It is not the Internet connection part that bothers me. It is the long-term availability of the DRM servers and the control that they have over my purchases, long after the sale.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:12AM (#43368037) Homepage

    This has squat to do with "society".

    This is all about "vendor lock" and computing platforms not being able to co-exist. The market dynamic of petty monopolies can manage at best 2 or 3 options assuming it's not just a crushing hegemony like Windows.

    This "society" problem is actually generally not a problem for most other things.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) < minus pi> on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:16AM (#43368071) Homepage

    Better but not quite right.

    The vacuume cleaner needs electricity.... to service my needs. I need it to suck shit up off the floor, I give it electricity, it does that.

    In this case, what is the "always on" doing for the consumer? The owner of the device?

    Its restricting him, its making requirments of him, what is is doing FOR him? Being ABLE to connect to the internet is one thing, being required is another entirely, and I would submit whats really wrong about this is simple: The requirement is not for the benefit of the user.

    If my XBox breaks, warranty aside, I own it. M$ wont be replacing it. Nowhere on the sales slip does it indicate the xbox is a rental. Its something the user buys. Everything it requires to work, should be what is required for HIS benefit SOLELY.

    Otherwise, it is a trojan.

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:17AM (#43368089) Homepage

    IBM passed their monopoly baton off to Microsoft.

    Microsoft's entire current business is based on servicing IBM's 1981 attempt to prevent Apple from taking over the small computing market.

    "It's gotta be DOS compatible man"

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:29AM (#43368215) Homepage Journal

    Ah, yes, the 'Marie Antoinette Allegory.'

    Hopefully with a similar ending...

  • Re:Better answer (Score:0, Insightful)

    by RocketRabbit ( 830691 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:41AM (#43368327)

    Perhaps the only choice is choosing not to buy a next-generation console. I have this sneaking suspicion that from now on all consoles will require persistent net connections. This much was intimated during the PS4 intro as well.

    Steam games will still work without Internet access, so the Steam Box may be the console of choice from here on out.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MareLooke ( 1003332 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:45AM (#43368355) Homepage

    I beg to differ. With gaming becoming more and more mainstream we've reached a critical point where mainstream games have turned into such generic appeal-to-everybody-and-their-lolcat that it leaves hardcore gamers seriously wanting.

    Multiplayer (and more specifically *competitive* multiplayer) has become such a required tickbox for publishers that it very often comes at the detriment of the single player experience. While I'm sure most of us enjoy playing games with other people there are just so many genres where single player is crucial and/or competitive multiplayer doesn't make sense (like story driven RPGs). Many of these genres have been watered down to such an extent by now that they're barely recognisable, others have just pretty much died out entirely in mainstream publishers' catalogues (like adventures, not the "action adventure" kind).

    The second problem is the "consolification" of everything, some genres are just not fit for controllers (sure you can attach a kb/mouse to a console, but if you do that you just have an underpowerd PC with horrendous limitations anyway) forcing them in a format that "works" for console controllers just turns them into something they aren't and that people often just do not want ("Hi Dragon Age 2!")

    Thirdly are the horrendous limitations consoles impose, sure the mainstream gamer might not care too much, well, until he/she sees how you can mod some games (like Skyrim...) often fixing bugs the developers can't be bothered with, fixing broken game mechanics and just generally improving the game experience. The gaming PC isn't dead yet even though publishers might be trying very hard to kill modability in the mistaken belief that mods kill DLC sales (well, they will, if your DLCs are trivial drivel).

    This explains imo the huge success of crowsourcing for games lately and frankly I think there is a market for both groups, the big publishers can keep on cranking out Hollywoodstyle appeal-to-all games while the crowdsourced developers can keep on producing interesting, innovative, oldschool or just generally off-the-beaten-path games. It's happened with film, I don't see why it would be a problem with games.

    tl;dr Single player is not dead and PC gaming is far from dead either.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:45AM (#43368363)

    His comment was very much like "let them eat cake".

    The portion of the USA not on the coasts still has slow, spotty Internet. While you are zipping along the highway on your 4g phone many of the houses right there have no high speed available at all. An XBox or PC is simply too wasteful of bandwidth to use with a 4g modem.

    Good devices work within constraints. iPhone/iPads are "always connected" but The phone companies push Apple to make sure they only "sip" the data.... Not gulp it like PCs do.

    This whole attitude that game makers have to push 500MB to 5GB of data WEEKLY just to play their game is going to push people right out of the market. It's like 25% of Anericans that don't have bandwidth Avalible for things like always-on games... Or not at REASONABLE prices.

    Too many of Microsoft's employees are still running torrents from moms basement or their dorm room and don't have to PAY for their own bandwidth.

  • by duckgod ( 2664193 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:57AM (#43368447)
    For me when DRM(especially Always-On) gets involved I no longer own the game. I am just licensing the game. The company may take away my license at any time.

    I don't mind licensing a game. But lets get it straight that in no way shape or form should I be expected to pay the same amount for a license of a game and a copy of the game which I can do whatever I want with. I think this is why Steam has had so much success is because I often feel like their prices are taking this concept into thought.
  • Re:Better answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:59AM (#43368459)

    Because hosting servers and running the software ain't cheap.

    Better description would be let players contact each other directly, IP-to-IP without needing a Sony/MS/etc middleman with their consoles.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:33AM (#43368767)

    Sometimes you have to suck it up and submit to the majority even if they are dumbasses.

    That's why education is so important.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:39AM (#43368813) Journal

    A vacuum cleaner is almost a necessity,

    #firstworldproblems. A vacuum cleaner is a luxury that helps you manage another luxury, carpet. Most people don't have carpet.

    The Mexican government has a program to help poor people upgrade to concrete, because dirt flooring is even worse. So please, whine about DRM on consoles, but remember your life is overall pretty good.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:46AM (#43368899)

    Just like most women don't know how rape feels like. Doesn't make it a right thing either.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hotawa Hawk-eye ( 976755 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:01PM (#43369053)

    The average American that has internet access may not lose access for very long, unless they get hit by a strike. [] But what happens when it's the other [] end [] of the connection that fails? I don't want EA's or Blizzard's underestimate of demand or inability to provide sufficient server capacity to handle the early load to keep me from playing a game.

    I also enjoy playing older games, and I don't want a company's decision to shut down [] old servers they don't want to pay to maintain [] to prevent me from doing that.

  • Change of Focus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <> on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:09PM (#43369119) Homepage

    It's a change of business focus. The point is that they do not make any money selling consoles, and they do not make as much money as they want off of selling games. That business is dead. What he is really saying, is that they are using the console to drive their new business, where all the profits come from on-line content. In other words, their is no product without an internet connection, because the real product is network based. The console is just a way to access the content.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Feyshtey ( 1523799 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:28PM (#43369301)

    The government would never get anything done...

    Good. When was the last time they did something that increased freedom? I'd rather they butt out and let us live our damn lives.

  • Re:Better answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberfunkr ( 591238 ) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:28PM (#43371675)

    "Hi, this is the Microsoft Vacuum Inspection Division. I see you're trying to turn on your vacuum. Let me just double check to make sure everything is in order."

    "Oh? That's cool. So you're looking for defects, making sure that my device is going to give me a great experience?"

    "Ah... yeah... no. That's not what we do."

    "Oh. Well then you're going to double check the settings to make sure that I'm not using the wood floor setting on my shag rug, right?"

    "Not so much."

    "Are you at least going to make sure that the filter is installed correctly and warn me that it needs replacing?"

    "No, but we will make sure that you're using official Microsoft Filters. Use of any other brand will void your warranty and cause the vacuum to overheat and burn a red ring into your carpet."

    "I see. Well, speaking of carpet, I had to change out the wheels because the default wheels keep getting snagged on my rug. But I figure, I'm only vacuuming my own rug so it's no big deal."

    "Oh? Is that so? Guess we're done here."

    "Thanks for stopping by! Time to get back to... Hey... How come my vacuum doesn't work any more? I can turn it on, but nothing is getting clean."

    "Since you modified the vacuum, that would give an unfair advantage to your abilities, so we had to stop you from using your vacuum."

    "Unfair advantage? I'm cleaning my house. My own house! What does that give me an advantage over?"

    "I'm sorry but we need to make sure that all customers of the SuckBox 720 have the same experience. Allowing you to use yours would cause problems if you ever vacuumed with your friends."

    "Vacuumed with..? You really think I'm going to bring this to a friends house and have a race of who can do suck dirt better?"

    "Sorry, but your vacuum is equipped with an Always-On Dirt Regulator Mechanism to prevent tampering so Microsoft can monitor vacuums to make sure no one is cheating or trying to give a bad experience to other owners."

    "How do I cheat at vacuuming? And it's just MY OWN F'N CARPET! Who cares how I do it? Fine. I'll put the old wheels back."

    "Sorry. But your vacuum has been marked as banned and will never work on our system again. If you wish to purchase a new vacuum, we will allow you get back on-line. However, we also flagged your registration information, and the credit card used to buy the vacuum. You'll have to register under a different name and use a different credit card or your new vacuum will be deactivated also."

    "Hello, big name electronics store? I'd like to order a DysonStation 4..."

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama