Microsoft Studios creative director debates 'always on' game console stance

While Microsoft continues to keep quiet about its plans for the next Xbox game console, the rumors continue to fly that the hardware will include a feature that will require the console have an "always on" Internet connection to play games and use its apps. On Thursday, a creative director at Microsoft Studios took to his Twitter account to offer his personal opinion on the subject, and it's a stance that's not proving to be a popular one.

Adam Orth, who joined Microsoft Studios in 2012 after previously working at PopCap Games and LucasArts, posted the following message on his Twitter account Thursday.

While Orth has since protected his Twitter account, a forum poster at NeoGAF collected his messages on the subject, which included his exchange with BioWare game designer Manveer Heir. As you can see, Heir points out that solid Internet connections are not universal in the U.S., but Orth seems to brush aside that argument, basically saying that people who live in those parts of the country should not live there.

It's important to point out that Orth was expressing his personal opinion on the "always on" debate and his views should not be construed as an official stance from Microsoft itself. However, the fact that his statements have been slammed universally by gamers in lots of message boards and news comments should give Microsoft some indication on how gamers feel about this feature possibly being put into the next Xbox.

Source: NeoGAF

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This man is extremely annoying. He clearly is just at MS for the money, no passion for tech/video games. It's people like him which give MS a bad name, his snobbish attitude is what I'd expect someone from Apple to say. Hope he gets fired.

pmdci said,
"Electricity goes out too". Fantastic. A moron whit the logic reasoning of a jelly fish.

For some people in the country like myself who have FiOS the internet connection is actually a lot more stable and reliable than electricity. I understand what he was saying. What I don't understand is how unreliable most people's connections are. I can only go by what people say is so. My experience is that internet for the past decade has been a rock solid reliable thing. I've seen countless internet streaming services thrive from Netflix to Spotify to Amazon Prime to Vudu and tens of million subscribe to online gaming services like Xbox Live. I've seen devices that rely on streaming like Roku and Apple TV and SmartTVs sell by the millions. So it's a little hard for someone who lives in a world where his body scale has wi-fi to relate to people who freak out at the notion of requiring it to play video games.

Avatar Roku said,

For some people in the country like myself who have FiOS the internet connection is actually a lot more stable and reliable than electricity. I understand what he was saying. [...].

I understand that he is an idiot. Electricity goes out too? What sort of imbecilic justification is that? So that basically means that the console has now two possible points of interruption: electricity and broadband. If my internet connection gets interrupted for a couple of days (it happened to me before), I would like to spend some time by (among other things) playing my damn console.

And you can't compare Roku and Netflix with playing video games. What's next? A car that only works with broadband? Perhaps a fridge? We can always argue that Netflix sells a lot.

Also, some people prefer to have 3G based internet connection and have little to no interested to use their consoles online. An some people might have not so stable internet connectivity. Microsoft just gave Sony and Nintendo a key differential advantage.

JHBrown said,
Can someone tell me the the advantage of an always on console? I don't get it.

I can think of many. Well in the case of OnLive it is pretty obvious; games are completely run off the server and the hardware sold to customers is very inexpensive. This is the only way Xbox 360 and Windows PC games could be playable on the next Xbox since they won't be using the same architecture or OS.

Maybe they need to do server side processing for Kinect voice and gesture recognition. Microsoft has done voice recognition demos recently showing how much better and accurate it is when they have an Internet connection. It has been rumored that one of the main sales points of next Xbox is to control your whole entertainment center; taken away accurate voice processing and the feature is crippled. Maybe they have some persistent achievement points system that constantly compares or a required system that connects community progress in games to your single player game. Maybe SmartGlass is required for every single game and pulls down data from the server.

I don't know, you're asking me to speculate about a system that hasn't been announced yet. People are prejudging the system before Microsoft even has an opportunity to announce their plan. This is really wrong. I hope to God Microsoft ignores all this garbage people are saying and stick to their plan because changing product vision at the last minute is guaranteed failure.

Edited by Avatar Roku, Apr 5 2013, 6:51pm :

whats funny is most of the people "outraged" all have 24/7 internet. I hope this rumor is true, it will instantly get rid of dirty pirates. you can all say you wont buy the next xbox,but if this pleases developers,guess where they are going to start putting their resources? exactly. you can have your ps4 that wont have all the latest and greatest games.

vcfan said,
whats funny is most of the people "outraged" all have 24/7 internet. I hope this rumor is true, it will instantly get rid of dirty pirates

No, no it will not.

vcfan said,
whats funny is most of the people "outraged" all have 24/7 internet. I hope this rumor is true, it will instantly get rid of dirty pirates. you can all say you wont buy the next xbox,but if this pleases developers,guess where they are going to start putting their resources? exactly. you can have your ps4 that wont have all the latest and greatest games.

I think you hit the nail on the head. People complaining on the internet about needing to be on the internet is one of the strangest things I've seen in my life. This outrage has ulterior motives, these people are worried about DRM or a DRM system not functioning. The outrage people are expressing is absurd. Netflix has over 25 million subscribers for its streaming service in America. There are tons of successful streaming services in the world. There is no way these services would be so successful if everyone was so afraid of relying on the internet connection. People are against the next Xbox out of pure ignorance. They have no idea what Microsoft is even trying to do with their Azure server side computing platform. I hope Microsoft is building the console around some advanced server side calculations and making it as powerful as possible. Where was this outrage when OnLive was announced? Microsoft should build what they want to build, not be forced into serving a million entitled masters.

wow "electricity goes out too", yeah we humans also die!
and also bad decisions should make microsoft fire someone!
**** happens!
life happens! in ancient greece you'd be a philosopher cause you're soooo 'deep'.
And when you get fired, then lets see why on earth you'd have to live 'there' or anywhere else worse!

tomasse said,
wow "electricity goes out too", yeah we humans also die!
and also bad decisions should make microsoft fire someone!
**** happens!
life happens! in ancient greece you'd be a philosopher cause you're soooo 'deep'.
And when you get fired, then lets see why on earth you'd have to live 'there' or anywhere else worse!

So a guy can get fired for making a joke about not wanting to live somewhere?

That's pretty insane. This public lynching is disgusting. I could understand if the guy said something racist, sexist, or homophobic, but over a ridiculous joke like that? I hope Microsoft isn't that silly to fire someone working on a game over something so trivial.

"electricity goes out too" is mockery.
"why on earth would i live there?" is diminishing and 'racist'.
He is a creative director at Microsoft Studios.
One person, staining the name of a company, is not trivial.
But as he replied later, his tweets were a friendlly trolling between him and Manveer.
In case this was serious, yeah, he should've been fired.

Edited by tomasse, Apr 6 2013, 12:39am :

what an idiot... his argument isn't helped with the whole why would I live there comments.... maybe because other people do?....

So I guess NO ONE is even addressing the idea of ALWAYS ONLINE VS REQUIRED Online.

Seems people would rather complain without even understanding the difference between the two.

Electricity is an inescapable technical requirement for a vacuum cleaner.

Internet access is not essential for a games console, it's only required because the manufacturer chose to make it that way.

There is a big difference.

Also, insulting where other people live is pretty idiotic. He probably doesn't have a leg to stand on under corporate social media policy.

singularity87 said,
Electricity is an inescapable technical requirement for a vacuum cleaner.

Internet access is not essential for a games console, it's only required because the manufacturer chose to make it that way.

There is a big difference.

Also, insulting where other people live is pretty idiotic. He probably doesn't have a leg to stand on under corporate social media policy.

People are saying Internet is not required without even knowing how this system works. How do you know that? What if games rely on some kind of constant server calculations to function? What if the machine uses server side voice calculations for the Kinect sensor. What if their smartglass platform is a requirement for every game and it needs to pull down data from the net to be functional. People are in essence saying that Microsoft can't design the game system they want to because everyone is assuming the desire for DRM is what is driving the need for always on.

So because EA and Blizzard did something terrible with DRM on PC, Microsoft can't be trusted on Xbox?

Typical close-mindedness from Microsoft employees. It shows in a lot of their products these days, pretty sad considering most the time they are way off base... If these rumors are true I'll be getting a PS4, at least I won't get charged extra for stupid things like Netflix and Internet Explorer (more proof that Microsoft employees are on crack if they think they can charge for some of the worst software to come out of Redmond). I hope this decision will be the fall of Xbox. Screw you Microsoft. I guess killing Windows wasn't enough?

While this may not be an "official" statement from Microsoft on the matter, it shows where things are sitting right now. There WILL be an always online requirement, and non-connected users are going to be SOL if they want to use it. Well, too bad MS, you are driving the last nail in your coffin here. I will not be buying one, and I am sure that many, many others will do likewise. If Sony does the same thing, I won't buy a PS4 either. I am sick and tired of companies that treat the users like a replaceable commodity. You are taking your user base for granted, not just on Xbox, but on Windows as well...and I hope it means the death of your company if you don't change.

OK I'm seeing this blow up all over the net and still no one has clarified the following

Does ALWAYS online mean REQUIRED online?

Because ALWAYS online could simply mean if the console is in the presence of a wifi connection or plugged in via Ethernet it will always be connected to the wifi\ethernet connection even in sleep mode to download updates etc.

REQUIRED online means a TOTALLY different thing and is completely separate from ALWAYS online.

REQUIRED online would mean the console will not function, games will not play unless it is connected to the net.

It sure seems that people in the know are mocking the outrage of ALWAYS online because the general public is being stupid and thinking it is REQUIRED online.

So where is the clarification that Durango is REQUIRED to be Online?

Thank you. I'm sure publishers are seeking this feature on next gen consoles as an option. There's no reason for the console manufacturer to enforce it globally. But it would also be bad business if they did build-in the option for the ******* publishers who want to use it.

AmazingRando said,
Thank you. I'm sure publishers are seeking this feature on next gen consoles as an option. There's no reason for the console manufacturer to enforce it globally. But it would also be bad business if they did build-in the option for the ******* publishers who want to use it.

I'm sorry but you can't say there is no reason to do this system wide when they haven't even explained what the machine will do. There are a million reasons why you might want the system to be always on and make use of data or server side calculations. Let Microsoft build the system they want and then decide if it's capabilities please you or not. Prejudging the system and requesting they cut features without knowing what they are is incredibly stupid.

While I agree that this exchange is weird and not tasteful, I am also not understanding the drama.

Your DirecTV / Dish receiver is "always on". I don't see the sky falling???

Now, on the other hand, if they made it so that 100% of connectivity is 100% REQUIRED or else you get no gaming - well, that is a different story and it would be a bad thing obviously. This is not what anyone is saying though, that I have seen.

Moron. Even it is was a 'joke'. It's not about being PC. It's about your words having certain meaning when you are an employee of a company.

idiot indeed. he thinks the world is only NY. try to go to another country. there are places there isnt internet and people want a console to have some fun. but if he dont make it another company will so less sales from them

techbeck said,

Still doesnt negate what he did. Joking or not, he works for MS and this made them look bad/worse. He shouldnt publicly talk about a company he works for in a bad light.

Perhaps true but give him a break! We wouldn't even have seen this if it hadn't spread to these sites because it was relevant to the next xbox and the stupid rumour of "always on" as in required to connect to the internet to play games.

techbeck said,

Still doesnt negate what he did. Joking or not, he works for MS and this made them look bad/worse. He shouldnt publicly talk about a company he works for in a bad light.


Judging by your post history I'm sure you're hoping to make this look as bad as you possibly can.

techbeck said,

Still doesnt negate what he did. Joking or not, he works for MS and this made them look bad/worse. He shouldnt publicly talk about a company he works for in a bad light.

Regardless, he's allowed to make a joke. People need to at least try to be less sensitive...

jakem1 said,

Judging by your post history I'm sure you're hoping to make this look as bad as you possibly can.

What are you talking about. Adam Orth is making this look bad enough. I was just commenting and giving my opinion. I doubt anything I say will have a negative impact on MS.

jakem1 said,

Judging by your post history I'm sure you're hoping to make this look as bad as you possibly can.

Well it's true, initially Orth was making it look pretty bad. I see he cleared things up but the word is out. What will MS do? Depends on their policy on social media.

laserfloyd said,
Well it's true, initially Orth was making it look pretty bad. I see he cleared things up but the word is out. What will MS do? Depends on their policy on social media.

And this is why I feel Microsoft's PR department needs to do something. You let things like this hit Reddit, with an average score of over 4000+ points of karma to it, people are going to remember this as a member of Microsoft being a dick.

Orth clearing things up after the fact won't reverse that wildfire... And now Microsoft has some cleaning up to do in making sure whatever approach they take, that it's well established and understood by the consumers, especially those teetering on the fence.

If you read some later tweets it's actually pointed out that he was having a laugh with the guy he speaking to, who is a close friend.

There are 2 different issues here.

The conversation currently on the frontpage between Adam and Manveer, which is obviously meant as a joke and there are the OTHER ones which are not explained; with his weird analogies and conversations with other people where he makes "always-on" sound like a feature which is 'expected' and 'not an issue at all'. <- that's the bad one, coming from an microsoft employee. Those don't get addressed at all

xstex said,
If you read some later tweets it's actually pointed out that he was having a laugh with the guy he speaking to, who is a close friend.

Agreed. I think people are a little too sensitive anymore.

Indeed, this makes them look like ignorant fools (that of course; learnt nothing from Diablo III and SimCity). Ballmer should put a stop to this personally, which he probably won't. But he should.

While I have a great connection.. it does go down from time to time. I would also like to be able to bring my xbox to our cabin or whatever. It would give kids and myself a second thing to do. So there's a scenario they're ignoring.

pantera9 said,
Indeed, this makes them look like ignorant fools (that of course; learnt nothing from Diablo III and SimCity). Ballmer should put a stop to this personally, which he probably won't. But he should.

While I have a great connection.. it does go down from time to time. I would also like to be able to bring my xbox to our cabin or whatever. It would give kids and myself a second thing to do. So there's a scenario they're ignoring.

The problem with SimCity and Diablo III wasn't always-on DRM, but if you're going to have it, it NEEDS to work flawlessly on day one. If the problem was just the DRM, no one would have bought it. It's not as if they hid that requirement until launch day from people.

Wow. He didn't score any points there... LOL Thank god he doesn't speak for Microsoft... He'd make a horrible representative... LOL

I am waiting to get the next Xbox; however, I would think twice if it is required always on. I have both Diablo 3 and SimCity, so I would want to deal with that again.

torrentthief said,
If it requires always-on or kinect always connected then ps4 is hands down the way to go, it has better hardware too.

I'm sorry how do you know it has "better" hardware already?? Could you please share with everyone the exact hardware specifications for both consoles to enlighten Neowin readers!

ingramator said,

I'm sorry how do you know it has "better" hardware already?? Could you please share with everyone the exact hardware specifications for both consoles to enlighten Neowin readers!

+1. I am constantly perplexed by people that espouse rumor or opinion as fact... Why are they so incapable of starting a statement with "I believe" or "My opinion is"?

go to vgleaks.com, the specs are there. All the specs they posted for the ps4 that have been announced by sony were proven EXACTLY correct.

torrentthief said,
go to vgleaks.com, the specs are there. All the specs they posted for the ps4 that have been announced by sony were proven EXACTLY correct.

For starters, Sony barely revealed anything about internal hardware at their event and if I believe correctly, that site listed the console as going to have 4GB of RAM

ingramator said,
I'm sorry how do you know it has "better" hardware already?? Could you please share with everyone the exact hardware specifications for both consoles to enlighten Neowin readers!

Anyone could tell you that: it has the Sony name on it!

This guy should be fired. I hope he's fired. He's an idiot.
Whether or not you agree with him, he had no tact and made Microsoft look terrible.

He certainly put his foot in his mouth and managed to tell some customers they are insignificant. I am sure that MS has some discipline measures for social media use on personal time that impacts the company.

yardmanflex said,
Why should he be? He replied to a blog story on his personal twitter account...poking fun at a rumor.....relax already...

Doesnt matter. He works for a company and needs to represent them professionally no matter what. People have gotten fired for what they post about their work on Facebook and other places.

His words and actions reflect directly on his employer and they have every right to fire him for causing a PR ****sTORM of epic proportions.

Bleedorang3 said,
His words and actions reflect directly on his employer and they have every right to fire him for causing a PR ****sTORM of epic proportions.

Exactly this. It was a public statement, if he wanted to keep it between him and his buddy they could have skyped.

Almost every work place that I've had the luxury of working for or hearing about from friends have some sort of policy of expressing yourself off the clock regarding the company you work for. Even off the clock on your own personal dime you reflect the company and the company has every right to hold you responsible for your actions if it impacts the company you work for.

I understand he was expressing his opinion, but his opinion also says that customers who apparently don't live in major cities or don't have a internet connection are basically "worthless and shouldn't play the new xbox". I can see Microsoft releasing a statement based on Orthy's opinion that he publicly stated as it definitely reflects how people look at Microsoft regarding the new xbox.

yardmanflex said,
Why should he be? He replied to a blog story on his personal twitter account...poking fun at a rumor.....relax already...

I'm sure MS has a social media policy and what he did could have crossed the line. Gotta be careful because look at all of us going bananas over this. Companies don't like playing damage control but when they do, they start at the source. So who knows? Just gotta be careful these days.

This guy's a creative director at one of the biggest company in the industry; he broke his NDA, revealed confidential business information and publicly shitted on his customers. Yeah, I think he should get fired.