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Talroth

This is the future of video games? No wonder I've been buying so many board games lately.

112 posts in this topic

This sort of thing used to bother me, it really doesn't anymore.  Why is that?  Well, because the minute I see a single-player game requiring a permanent connection, well that game may as well not exist for me, it just leaves my brain and the possibility of buying it just disappears completely.

 

My curiosity for the trend in general is for 5+ years down the road.  I mean, I still regularly play games from the mid 90s... when its the year 2025 and no one plays this simcity game anymore, will there still be a server to connect to?  And if not, I really hope EA and those like them have the brainpower to realize that releasing a version that doesn't require said server for a bargain basement price is still good business seeing as it won't make a dime without the server.

 

EDIT:  Just looked over a page of the best selling pc games of all time by copies sold.  I realize you can't draw conclusions about an industry based on one game, but my god, how in the world has Minecraft sold that many copies?  It has no real DRM (at least, not in the sense we tend to understand the term), so if DRM is the only thing keeping pirates from ruining everything, how is it the 8th best selling game of all time?

Edited by Plethora
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if DRM is the only thing keeping pirates from ruining everything, how is it the 8th best selling game of all time?

Because, as we all know, reducing piracy is not the same as increasing sales. They're not opposites mellow.png

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And Minecraft didn't sell for 70-90 dollars. Plus, Minecraft is a different kettle of fish. Minecraft could have had DRM or been online-only, I think it would still have sold that many copies.

 

And this is why .... A lot of people don't care about online only and DRM. I mean when you give up on the politics and just want to play the game, well you'll forget about the DRM. I don't even know what DRM is other than an acronym. I don't have to know, I just know that when I want to play a game, I turn my computer on and start it up.

 

I'm getting sick to death of piracy and hackers. I want the industry to move to deployment and operational models that make piracy and hacking a rare thing rather than the usual thing. There might be some hickups, but I can put up with that.

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Disclaimer: I work for EA also, but also unrelated to this project.
 
While my feelings about always-on DRM are congruent with many of you, that aside server problems are to be expected on launch day. It happened with Diablo 3. It happened with GW2. It happened with Castle Story. I can't (off the top of my head) think of a game that had zero server problems on launch day (although I'm sure they're out there). Complaining about always-on DRM is one thing (although one could argue that hey, you knowingly bought the game). But if you buy a game, developed by any studio, that you know needs to connect to a server expecting not to see any problems on launch day you're living in a fantasy world. Yes, it's bad. Yes, it shouldn't happen. But you're an early adopter just as you're an early adopter if you buy a piece of hardware on launch not waiting for reviews to come out. You'll not only wait in line, but maybe find out that the store is out of stock and notice other issues with the product first. Let's be realistic.
Edited by Drakonka
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But if you buy a game, developed by any studio, that you know needs to connect to a server expecting not to see any problems on launch day you're living in a fantasy world. Yes, it's bad. Yes, it shouldn't happen. But you're an early adopter just as you're an early adopter if you buy a piece of hardware on launch not waiting for reviews to come out. You'll not only wait in line, but maybe find out that the store is out of stock and notice other issues with the product first. Let's be realistic.

I'm sorry, since when was buying a game on release considered being an 'early adotpter'?
What kind of bullshit reasoning is that?

Hardware can't be beta tested by large groups of people to find problems; games can. You can figure out load issues, check the server even WORKS before the game is released.

More to the point if I buy a graphics card and it doesn't work properly I can generally send it back for a refund - if you've brought this game, which hardly works at all, you are shit out of luck as you won't be getting your money back any time soon.

Trying to write it off as 'oh, you tried to play on release day, you are an early adopter, its a none issue' is frankly bullshit.

Basically all you've said here is "don't bother pre-ordering a game - it probably wont work so why give them your money".
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I'm sorry, since when was buying a game on release considered being an 'early adotpter'?

 

Since you were among the first people to buy the game. That's what an early adopter is.

 

I hope you had fun playing D3 on launch day. Or any other game that required a server connection. As I clearly said in my post - yeah, it's bad. Yeah, in a perfect world it wouldn't happen. If you want to wait until you're sure you won't run into server problems, maybe wait until you are not one of the thousands of people barging at the gates as soon as they open.

 

Edit: And please don't put words in my mouth. I don't know how you got "don't bother pre-ordering a game" from my post at all. I said only what I said.

Edited by Drakonka
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Edit: And please don't put words in my mouth. I don't know how you got "don't bother pre-ordering a game" from my post at all. I said only what I said.

Logical induction; If you don't expect a game to work on release day there is no point in pre-ordering the game.

Much the same as your hardware example; if you don't want to be an early adopter for a graphics card you don't pre-order the card (or buy it on release day) you wait.
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Edit: And please don't put words in my mouth. I don't know how you got "don't bother pre-ordering a game" from my post at all. I said only what I said.

Logical induction; If you don't expect a game to work on release day there is no point in pre-ordering the game.

Much the same as your hardware example; if you don't want to be an early adopter for a graphics card you don't pre-order the card (or buy it on release day) you wait.

 

This is true, though there are other reasons to preorder a game. Eg I preorder games just to know that I have a copy secured and not have to worry about it. If you preorder games that require server access for the purpose of being able to play them on the first day with no issues, then you're right - it is safer to wait :)

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We live in a world of digital downloads and mass production - pre-ordering to 'ensure you have a copy' really isn't a good reason to do it.

You pre-order because you want to play on launch day.
If you can't play on launch day then there is no point in pre-ordering.

In my case if I can't pre-order a game I want to play which doesn't come out for some time I tend to forget about said game and not end up playing it at all so a lack of pre-ordering can have a negative effect on sales.

BUT the point is when your game REQUIRES an online connection this SHOULDN'T be acceptable.
People should rant.
They should moan.
Because if they just go 'oh well, day 1...' companies will CONTINUE to pull this bullshit where you can't play a game you wanted to play.
I could almost accept problems in the first 12 hours or so after release as that is a horrible peak but when we are two days post release and people STILL can't get into the game for hours at a time... well... how is that even remotely acceptable? Even Guildwars 2, which had some launch problems, was playable with ease after the first 24h when the login/character creation servers had taken less of a battering.

And when you get situations where losing connection to the server during game play results in lost game play its even worst (one guy made sigificant changes to his city, it wasn't saved nor made clear it wasn't saved, so when he swapped cities from and then back to it to his surprise he'd lost all the changes.).
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We live in a world of digital downloads and mass production - pre-ordering to 'ensure you have a copy' really isn't a good reason to do it.

You pre-order because you want to play on launch day.
If you can't play on launch day then there is no point in pre-ordering.

In my case if I can't pre-order a game I want to play which doesn't come out for some time I tend to forget about said game and not end up playing it at all so a lack of pre-ordering can have a negative effect on sales.

BUT the point is when your game REQUIRES an online connection this SHOULDN'T be acceptable.
People should rant.
They should moan.
Because if they just go 'oh well, day 1...' companies will CONTINUE to pull this bullshit where you can't play a game you wanted to play.
I could almost accept problems in the first 12 hours or so after release as that is a horrible peak but when we are two days post release and people STILL can't get into the game for hours at a time... well... how is that even remotely acceptable? Even Guildwars 2, which had some launch problems, was playable with ease after the first 24h when the login/character creation servers had taken less of a battering.

And when you get situations where losing connection to the server during game play results in lost game play its even worst (one guy made sigificant changes to his city, it wasn't saved nor made clear it wasn't saved, so when he swapped cities from and then back to it to his surprise he'd lost all the changes.).

 

 

Thanks for enlightening me about why I should or should not preorder my games, but I'm not sure my preordering habits or reasoning are up for discussion here.

 

I see, so you do have a personal time limit for when server issues are acceptable and when they stop being so? This kind of sounds like we're on the same page here, except the period when you can "accept problems" may be shorter or longer than that of others.

 

You can rant and moan all you want - keep preordering games that require a server connection and ranting and moaning every time you're hit with connectivity issues on the first day again (as you most certainly will with most games for the near future) or just decide not to preorder those kinds of games for that purpose. Good luck either way smile.png

 

I hope that eventually we won't have these kinds of infrastructure issues on release days. I'm sure developers put in every possible effort to smooth out these kinds of launch problems. It's not like anybody enjoys having these kinds of problems with the game they've poured their sweat and tears into. Until developers find a way to improve infrastructure and server load handling on the launch barrage I'll be realistic about what and why I preorder, and my expectations of playing online games straight on release. Waiting a while won't kill me and that way I avoid a lot of stress and the subsequent ranting and moaning.

 

(PS: Other issues such as the game not notifying you when it's saved are in my opinion a totally different story. I would expect a notification in this case that the city is not safe to swap and would totally understand the frustration at there being no warning of any sort)

Edited by Drakonka
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I agree with Phantom that people should complain and rant about this - from an end-user point of view, having this sort of problems, regardless of when they are (at launch or not) is bad.

 

I wonder though what the alternatives are from the point of view for gaming companies. I was in on the early launch of the GW2 (having pre-ordered to play in the beta weekends, but that's a different story). There were indeed issues with the login servers being pretty badly overrun with a ton of players. Now, ANet had their pre-order numbers for that, and it's certainly plausible that they could have made a worse-case scenario that was much worse than the actual events that day (meaning, they could've anticipated 10x the amount of traffic on login servers), and its somewhat plausible that they could have prepared for it.

 

I thought about this on the launch day - but then it occurred to me - setting up redundant servers and anticipating worse-case scenarios is expensive. These extra servers and the setup would probably only be useful for launch day, after which the amount of traffic would die down (as it has) and the extra server setup would become unnecessary and probably only cost even more to maintain. 

 

I'm not saying that companies don't want to have flawless launch days, but there's a cost associated with everything, so in my eyes, there's got to be some cost-benefit analysis that probably results in the fact that some launch day problems are a better alternative than over-preparing, in terms of cost. After all, the launch day problems can be handled, usually fairly quickly, by allocating exactly as many resources as are seen to be needed at that time, and the people who have issues will often times still go back and play the game, regardless of the issues (like I have: I had to wait 2hrs to login at one point, and while annoying, i still went back to play the next day and so on)

 

Anyway, I'm not an expert on this stuff, but that's my two cents.

 

Edit: Also, more on topic, making the single player portion of a game require constant internet connection is something that's absolutely bloody absurd in my mind, and something I'll never understand. I've yet to buy any game that required that sort of setup, and I never will. It pisses me off, especially because I often travel and won't always have a reliable internet connection. Yes, I know the arguments for piracy, and maybe it really benefits companies - but I still have my right to not buy a game based on that.

Edited by Milcho
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Thanks for enlightening me about why I should or should not preorder my games, but I'm not sure my preordering habits or reasoning are up for discussion here.

*shrugs* It's a matter of logic.
10 years ago when games were stocked on shelves in shops pre-ordering to ensure you got a copy made sense.
These days when buying PC games digitally there is no reason to pre-order to 'ensure you get a copy' as there will always be a copy.
The only thing a PC pre-order gets you is a preload so you can play from the moment the game is unlocked instead of having to join the masses in trying to download X gig on release day to play as soon as you can.

If the game fails to work then pre-ordering to pre-load becomes pointless as you'll always be able to get a copy at a later date; of course at which point reviews come out, the game gets panned and you might not buy anyway.

With digital sales being worth 3 physical sales to a company (direct quote from an executive where I work) you'd really think that given they are getting 3x the cash back they would be able to ensure that the game works properly, that it can pre-load smoothly (seriously, how they screw that up when they own the chuffin' distrubtion platform?!?) and work right away.

I see, so you do have a personal time limit for when server issues are acceptable and when they stop being so? This kind of sounds like we're on the same page here, except the period when you can "accept problems" may be shorter or longer than that of others.

I said 'almost accept' - it would still be annoyed, I'd still be complaining about it but if they could get things settled quickly I'd be more inclined to buy a game from them in the future as it would show they can cope with the problems and hopefully learn from them.

Of course if you release another game which does the same thing then my likely hood of buying another game drop significantly.

Frankly given that I've not seen an offical statement about this and that they seem to have basically twisted the truth with regards to refunds for people affected my chances of buying an EA game in the future are currently at an all time low (and thats without the broken mess which is Origin being factored in).
 

You can rant and moan all you want - keep preordering games that require a server connection and ranting and moaning every time you're hit with connectivity issues on the first day again (as you most certainly will with most games for the near future) or just decide not to preorder those kinds of games for that purpose. Good luck either way smile.png

Amusingly I'm complaining about something which right now isn't directly affecting me; I didn't buy D3 (because I tried the beta and decided it was boring) and Origin puts me off buying EA games which are exclusive to it so SimCity was never really on my pre-order radar anyway (it could have been the game to get me using Origin, as I was intrested in it.. then I saw the price, laughed and closed the browser window).

Aside from games which ARE MMOs (Guildwars 2 for example) I've not had to deal with this kind of BS on release day - the reason I'm making a noise is because if people don't then this kind of thing will continue to happen and it's just bad for the consumer. Hell, if the company I worked for had the same problems I've be wandering around the office using the term 'bullshit' quite a lot and the only reason I wouldn't complain online is because I like having a job (although I wouldn't be defending them either...).
 

I hope that eventually we won't have these kinds of infrastructure issues on release days. I'm sure developers put in every possible effort to smooth out these kinds of launch problems. It's not like anybody enjoys having these kinds of problems with the game they've poured their sweat and tears into. Until developers find a way to improve infrastructure and server load handling on the launch barrage I'll be realistic about what and why I preorder, and my expectations of playing online games straight on release. Waiting a while won't kill me and that way I avoid a lot of stress and the subsequent ranting and moaning.

Unfortunately I'm not as optimistic.

Lets get it clear there I don't blame the developers for these issues - the guys and girls who made the game will have done the best they can I'm sure. Granted I don't agree with all their design choices but I don't blame them for the connectivity issues.

That blame lies with those who authroised the provisioning of hardware to deal with the login issues and those people are, more than likely, going to be the publishers and those in the publishers who deal with the cost side of things. Those guys are less likely to care (because they haven't put blood sweat and tears into the product) and only see 'cash out' vs 'cash in' and if the 'cash out' is less than the 'cash in' they won't care.

They will see the game sells even with the connectivity issues and will likely see no reason to fix it because for all the moaning if people are still buying the game then its fine for them. Heck if you buy the game and then don't play it because you can't get on its even better as they don't have to deal with the outlay to keep the game running AND they have your money. Win-win really.
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As for it being the future of games, sadly the answer is yes, for major games.For the projects I've worked on and the stats I have seen piracy is normally 90% to 95% for major titles. I have watched as my own work hit a 93% piracy rate on our server telemetry. Always-online requirements and SaaS are one of the best ways to combat piracy. For some reason people don't complain about it any more with Valve

Because Steam(mostly) does it right. I don't really mind DRM per se, I just hate crappy, bugged out DRM. Which is to say %95 of DRM. I don't consider Steam to be more inconvenient than "please insert disc to play". If most DRM looked like Steam, I don't think there would be a lot of hate for it.

 

I think steam is more convenient than "please insert disc to play", or even DRM free games from for example gog.com simply because steam makes accessing my games from any computer, anywhere, easy and the DRM doesn't get in my way. (I've never even noticed it).

 

It is 2013 now so i don't have a huge problem with the always online requirement itself (I am always online anyway), but if i pay for a product and/or service i do expect it to be delivered at the date and time promised to me, there are no excuses, there is no such thing as an unexpected initial rush, with digital distribution you know exactly how many copies you've sold and you can stop sales in any region at any time. Blizzard failed with D3, EA failed with SimCity and i don't even care if Ubisoft fails or not anymore (I don't buy their games because of their past DRM fuckups and both EA and Blizzard has to be careful or i'll stop buying their games aswell).

 

If EA wishes to go down the always online route they need to commit to it, servers need to be up and running and can't be taken down just because a game is getting old, To get my money they will have to prove that they can deliver, not just on launchday but also 10+ years after launch.

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*shrugs* It's a matter of logic.

 

You assume I am interested in only buying games digitally, that I am not interested in limited edition CE boxes, and a whole lot of other things. Like I said, my reasons for preordering are not really up for discussion - I'm not sure who you're trying to convince here. The fact remains that not everybody preorders for the same reasons you do.

 

That blame lies with those who authroised the provisioning of hardware to deal with the login issues and those people are, more than likely, going to be the publishers and those in the publishers who deal with the cost side of things. Those guys are less likely to care (because they haven't put blood sweat and tears into the product) and only see 'cash out' vs 'cash in' and if the 'cash out' is less than the 'cash in' they won't care.

 

The number of concurrent users in a game is likely higher on launch day than it will be from then on as people who have pre-ordered etc try to get in to play for the first time. Therefore paying to set up infrastructure that you won't need x days down the line seems extremely inefficient. It is a matter of balance and doing the best you can with the costs you're facing.

 

I'm sorry I can't reply to the rest of your post in detail right now, coming off the lunch break. Either way, I think I've expressed my opinion and I respect yours. Best of luck in your gaming adventures :)

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And I still can't play the frickin' game. Unfortunatelly is all about risk management and cost, perhaps it's cheaper to risk having those kind of problems and have your image damaged than spend money on testing and buying extra hardware upfront. 

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Because Steam(mostly) does it right. I don't really mind DRM per se, I just hate crappy, bugged out DRM. Which is to say of DRM. I don't consider Steam to be more inconvenient than "please insert disc to play". If most DRM looked like Steam, I don't think there would be a lot of hate for it.

 
I think steam is more convenient than "please insert disc to play", or even DRM free games from for example gog.com simply because steam makes accessing my games from any computer, anywhere, easy and the DRM doesn't get in my way. (I've never even noticed it).
 
It is 2013 now so i don't have a huge problem with the always online requirement itself (I am always online anyway), but if i pay for a product and/or service i do expect it to be delivered at the date and time promised to me, there are no excuses, there is no such thing as an unexpected initial rush, with digital distribution you know exactly how many copies you've sold and you can stop sales in any region at any time. Blizzard failed with D3, EA failed with SimCity and i don't even care if Ubisoft fails or not anymore (I don't buy their games because of their past DRM fuckups and both EA and Blizzard has to be careful or i'll stop buying their games aswell).
 
If EA wishes to go down the always online route they need to commit to it, servers need to be up and running and can't be taken down just because a game is getting old, To get my money they will have to prove that they can deliver, not just on launchday but also 10+ years after launch.


Just out of curiousity, what does steam do that's functionally different from Origin? I mean, I've had no problems with Origin. I've had problems with SimCity, but Origin performs almost identically to Steam. Origin/Steam are just delivery mechanisms. I don't see why they are relevant to a game's servers being down. There are plenty of games on steam that have bad launch days. We are starting to conflate issues, and the general negative EA bias is starting to show.
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My problem with this issue is [b]Not[/b] one of infrastructure and the server problems, but rather one of [i]game design[/i].

 

What does the server get me?

 

Cloud storage of my cities.

Interaction with friends.

A community feedback system where my game play is theoritcally enhanced as aspects are now drive by other players, and not merely the same computer generated data as it has always been.

 

And I really can't think of anything else for the time being, as I haven't gotten to play the game enough yet.

 

So, why on earth did someone think it was a remotely good idea to block me [i]completely[/i] from the rest of the game, that could very easily be played in an offline state with minimal fuss?

 

 

Current Flow of events:

Server is down: HAHAHA! You're [Censored]! Please sit there with your thumb stuck somewhere warm and uncomfortable while we do whatever it is we're doing.

 

What the flow of events [i]Should have been[/i]:

Server is down: Ah, sorry, you will have to manage your city with whatever external data you had at the last server sync. Your local save will be synced up with the server as soon as we are back online. It won't be as fun, or cool, but you will still be able to get some enjoyment from the game.

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I agree it's good to complain - I'm glad to be aware, so I don't buy the game. Even though most of the time I'm online, I might want to play if my Internet's down, I might want to play away from home without sucking up my mobile usage, I might want to play on a plane or in another country.

Any relevant laws for your country to get a refund?
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What the flow of events Should have been:
Server is down: Ah, sorry, you will have to manage your city with whatever external data you had at the last server sync. Your local save will be synced up with the server as soon as we are back online. It won't be as fun, or cool, but you will still be able to get some enjoyment from the game.

I'd agree with that, but that's the way it always works as new technology becomes pervasive. I mean, 25 years ago it would have sucked if a game you really wanted to play required a GPU. Today it's standard. If we run into people with a shitty/no GPU we just laugh them off and say, "well you're SOL". We're nearing the point where the internet can be thought of similarly. As there are fewer and fewer places where one can be expected not to have internet connections there are fewer and fewer reasons not to require them. Not saying it's ideal, but it's not any different than what's happenened with other technology.
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As there are fewer and fewer places where one can be expected not to have internet connections there are fewer and fewer reasons not to require them.

I know my last comment got lost inbetween a hailstorm of other comments, so I'll just comment on this point again:

Yes, most people have constant internet access. Some of us do a fair bit of travelling however, and constant internet access, let alone fast internet access is not guaranteed, and I would personally find it very annoying to be unable to play a single player part of a game due to lack of internet. And to be fair, I've yet to purchase any game that required this - for that very reason. I've gone on without reliable internet for up to a week at a time, and while annoying, I'd be even more annoyed if I couldn't play me some games.

 

There's also the principle of the thing - you're talking about making content dependent on an internet connection, even though it does NOT have to be. It's not the same with GPUs, since modern games actually CANNOT run without them.

See, one is a technological limitation, imposed by the very nature of a game, while the other is an unnecessary limitation forced on for reasons completely unrelated to the game itself.

And the way you're reasoning is, I'm sure, what EA would want people to reason like, so that they can continue imposing whatever restrictions they want.

Edited by Milcho
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Also if you once bought a GPU for your computer its always there and even if it fails you can replace it. If that game is only playable with the server connection and the servers get offline, cause the company goes under or decides the game is 3 years old and only 10 people per day playing is not worth it keeping it online you can do nothing but curse them.

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Exactly, my issue isnt with requiring a connection now... it is what happens once EA turns off the server once the product reaches end of life.
Sure the gamer zombie masses will slowly march to the next games in the meantime, but what about those who liked playing this game? Will they have to go back to SimCity 2000?
If you work at EA currently and have any say in the matter, your due diligence should really be in warning about this.

There is currently no system in place protecting gamers against *idiots* in the gaming industry and it is getting quite worrying. Though I am quite sure that SimCity is going to do very well... *sigh* Edited by Karsten_
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Exactly, my issue isnt with requiring a connection now... it is what happens once EA turns off the server once the product reaches end of life.

I'm probably going to get tired of SimCity well short of it's servers being shut off. What happens when your favorite arcade decides to unplug your favorite cabinet?

If you work at EA currently and have any say in the matter, your due diligence should really be in warning about this.

I have contracted with EA in the past, not on this, but my support of models with online features as a core component has to do with me believing it can actually give better/more meaningful/more valuable experiences for players.

There is currently no system in place protecting gamers against *idiots* in the gaming industry and it is getting quite worrying.

Was there ever such a system?
 

Yes, most people have constant internet access. Some of us do a fair bit of travelling however, and constant internet access, let alone fast internet access is not guaranteed, and I would personally find it very annoying to be unable to play a single player part of a game due to lack of internet.

Even traveling isn't that unusual anymore. A lot of planes have internet access. Almost every hotel I've been in has internet access. A lot of airports are getting free internet access. Cities are starting to seriously consider free open wifi coverage. Like I said we're reaching a point where there are fewer and fewer situations in which you will find yourself without internet access.
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