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Ubisoft's Mallat says audience is ready for always-online

Head of Montreal studio says services need to provide clear benefits, but people already embrace other always-online devices

Regardless of the outcry over SimCity's troubled launch and controversy surrounding the idea of an always-online Xbox 360 successor, the gaming audience could accept an always-online generation of consoles. That's the assessment of Ubisoft Montreal head Yannis Mallat, as he told The Guardian in a new interview.

When asked if gamers are ready for consoles with constant connections, Mallat said, "Well, that's a question you should put to Microsoft and Sony! I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices. I would suspect that the audience is ready."

Of course, part of that readiness involves publishers and hardware makers providing appropriate support and making sure such processes work as intended.

"As soon as players don't have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that those services bring," Mallat said. "And I agree, these services need to provide clear benefits. It's important to be able to provide direct connections between us and our consumers, whether that's extra content or online services, a lot of successful games have that."

Ubisoft is no stranger to the always-online debate. The company used always-on DRM for a number of PC games several years ago, including The Settlers 7 and Assassin's Creed II. Both of those titles, as well as others released with the same DRM, ran into issues at launch that left owners of legitimate copies of the games temporarily unable to play them. Citing user feedback, Ubisoft abandoned always-on DRM last year, instead requiring a one-time online activation.

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Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.