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The thing that scares me the most about the future of gaming... *Wall of Text*
Is how dependent games are becoming on an internet connection. It's not even the fact that games in the future may or may not require a constant connection. That discussion is completely irrelevant here. But rather how much is tied to being able to connect online: Patches, DLC, and content that is hosted exclusively in one place (ie Microsoft's servers and the like). Microsoft put out a fairly good solution to the patch problem by allowing newer games to create the patch as a savable object on your hard drive, but this has only happened in the past few years and there are tons of games that have their patches stored in the cache (which can only hold a finite amount of patches and that number is pretty low).
Think right now, how would some of your favorite games would look if you have to play them without patches? Skyrim, New Vegas, Far Cry 2, and there are tons more. Games are being released in broken states that require day one patches and even multiple patches. It's the whole idea of "release it now, fix it later" is what irks me the most. Not because I don't like patches or because I can't connect to LIVE. But because there will come a point in time that I will no longer be able to play games with all of their fixes, or even be able to access DLC content. Microsoft isn't going to keep hosting content forever. Once they stop supporting the 360, or once they stop hosting the content, well, that's it. What happens if your Xbox dies and you decide to pick up another one? Or when your hard drive dies? You won't be able to connect to their servers to verify your account, which in turn will disable all of your content even if you still have access to it.
Some games will become unplayable because of the sheer amount of problems it had in its unpatched release. Some games will now be subject to save data corruption again. Any piece of DLC content that requires a patch to play (which a lot of content does), will become unplayable, even if you have the content on your hard drive. Some games will revert to a less fun game, because all the cool stuff that was added or fixed in a patch, is now gone.
It's a bit of a double edged sword; I love the ability to have fixes for my games after I have already purchased it, and I love that developers are able to and do support their games after releasing them. But there will be a point in time where I am no longer able to get them. This might not happen for a while or it might happen when the next generation comes around. What makes it so scary is, we are at the mercy of companies who decide when it's no longer in their best interest to host content for its users, and can effectively render property unusable even though it was bought by a user and currently in their possession.
What do you guys think? Not a big deal, overreacting, spot on?
I think just a tad overreacting. Don't get me wrong, you make legitimate points, and it's not wrong to see it that way, but I just don't see it as such an issue.
If a few decades ago you had a computer and no Internet you could still do many many things with it, but now if you have a computer and no Internet it's kind of a "why would you do that?" moment. I think as our Internet infrastructure grows we'll get to a point where having a console not hooked up to the Internet creates the same kind of reaction.
Also, concerning games like Skyrim and Fallout, they are indeed filled with bugs at release but those are massive games considering. I think if one is worried about unplayability they just shouldn't buy those games.
In regards to being able to play content in the future, you only own a license that can be cut off at any time for a number of reasons. And though some gamers do like to go back and play really old games, the vast majority probably don't. I will say the vast majority of people who play games probably won't play a game after like 2-3 years and moves on to other, newer things. Isn't it in the companies best interest to allocate resources to fixing and streamlining the process for the majority of their customers? It sucks that your old content may eventually become playable, but a company isn't going to go out of their way to allow you to play when it's not making them anything back in return.
So I understand where you're coming from, I just don't see it as being as drastic an issue as other things.
"No control beyond these skies"
The main concern to me is the growing shift from games are products to games are services.
Perfectly reasonable worry, and one I used to share, so I did some digging a while back. There's sites out there that host title updates, and there's ways to install them via usb. So, it'll be a bit of a pain and take a bit of know-how, but if you're determined you should be able to play your patched Skyrim long after Live is gone.
What I personally worry about are the indie games. I really hope that they get patched to not require an internet connection before MS turns off the server, but I can't say I have a lot of faith in that happening. What % of 360 players even know the indie marketplace exists, much less give a damn about it?