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Is online only the future of video games

DRM is limiting access to many games for players who have unreliable or no internet connetion
DRM is limiting access to many games for players who have unreliable or no internet connetion

Video games have been improving by leaps and bounds over the years, graphics are getting better, stories are becoming more dynamic, controls are becoming more fluid, but what does the future have for video games? Many games being release now are sold purely through online digital distribution, without being able to run to Wal-Mart to buy the game. With the transition to online everything, it is natural to assume that users wont mind using the internet for everything.

For some games an always on connection makes sense, such as; World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and other MMORPG games, as the entire game is played with other players online, but for others the online requirement makes much less sense. Games like Diablo III have been using a required internet connection even when playing single player. Yes, in order to play Diablo III single player, by yourself, you have to be connected to servers. SimCity's latest game coming out in March also requires a constant internet connection to play, even if you don't want to play with other people.

For some, this is no big deal, they live in areas where high speed internet access is stable and easy to gain, but for others access to the internet is not so reliable, or maybe more expensive than they can afford each month. For the latter group, that makes games like Diablo III and SimCity unavailable to them, even if they do not intend to use any multiplayer features.

The reasons given for requiring online are varied. Diablo III was trying to encourage multiplayer and use of the "auction house" systems online, SimCity will do certain calculations on a server that effect a "global economy" that effects all players, but some games do not give any explanation. Many UbiSoft games for instance only require you to be online to launch the game, such as Far Cry 3, to authorize you and ensure it is not pirated. While anti-piracy seems to be the biggest reason, its seemingly ineffective.

For many players, terms like DRM (digital rights management) make them cringe. It means that in order to play a game that they paid for, they have to be authorized online. This also tends to prevent things like mods or cheats, which is fine to most for multiplayer, but makes no sense to tell people how to play alone. Another reason was the horrible release of Diablo III, one of the first games to use this type of setup. Between server issues, horrible lag, and unexpected maintenance many players who just wanted to play the single player were faced with similar issues to MMO players. A common complaint is experiencing "lag" when playing alone since the game must get information over the internet, another is server maintenance making it impossible to play the game for a few hours. While these issues are common in MMOs, and expected in order to keep the game in top shape, many are quickly angered when dealing with those to play by themselves.

Whether you think online only games are a grand improvement leading to a bright future or gaming, or a horrid plague in a vain attempt to stop piracy, it seems DRM and online only is here to stay. With groups like Skidrow breaking DRM on games with apparent ease, and apparently sometimes before the game is released, it appears to be an ineffective measure that simply causes more harm than good.


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