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CliffyB: "Technology doesn't advance by worrying about the edge case"

The former Epic designer says an always online future is coming

In another post on his blog, former Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski defended the idea of an always-online console as the future of gaming. Bleszinski's post was partially about the internet reaction to former Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth's comments about always-online devices, and Orth's subsequent departure from the company. Bleszinski asserts that online features push game adoption by consumers, despite vocal outcries to the contrary.

"My gut is telling me that an always online future is probably coming," he wrote. "It's coming fast, and possibly to the majority of the devices you enjoy. SimCity, with all of its troubles on launch, seems to be selling briskly. Diablo 3, the poster child of a messy launch, is estimated to be at 12 million units. I would bet money that without the always online elements of Diablo 3 that it would have sold half of that."

Bleszinski believes that early adopters will be always-online anyway, and situations where a connection isn't available will become less common in the future or only comprise an almost-negligible number of edge cases.

"Sooner or later our government, or Google, or any number of providers are going to get their shit together and we'll have universally fast internet for the majority of the first world," he wrote. "I'd be willing to say that any early adopter for any new piece of technology is probably going to have some sort of solid internet connection. If you're on a forum raging about Adam's comments there's a whole new generation of kids who are growing up always online who won't really give a shit."

"My wife and I were discussing these issues this afternoon and she mentioned the example of 'Hey what if I'm a gamer who wants to go to a cabin in the woods for a week and I don't have online access there?' That's the edge case...the week-long vacation to the cabin is only 30 hours of not playing a game or a device that's built for much more," he added. "Technology doesn't advance by worrying about the edge case."

In the end, Cliffy B believes that consumers will support always-online if the featureset is enticing enough.

"If the ecosystem of an always-connected device is fantastic then suddenly people don't really seem to notice any more. When electricity came along and people had to have meters attached to their house they didn't mind because they loved the idea of light bulbs, electric ranges, and refrigeration," he explained.

"If we don't have devices that aren't fully always online you can bet your ass that we'll have devices that encourage you to return to the online ecosystem in order to 'check in' and make sure everything on the system is legit. Could you hack/jailbreak such a device? Sure, but that crowd will almost always be the die hard/enthusiast crowd that's not the average user and makes up a small percentage of the potential sales."

The full post can be found at Clifford Unchained, Bleszinski's personal blog.

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Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.