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Only Speaking Professionally | On Line

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If you’ve been following my twitter feed (and let’s face it hahaha why wouldn’t you?) you would probably know that for the last six weeks or so I have pretty much been without functional internet.

I was hoping that by the time I returned from my copious travels that the telecommunications companies would have sorted something out to make it work again. But alas, they have been reticent. And that’s me being polite about it.

So here I am, stuck with a 200kB/s download speed on a good day, largely just complaining about it. Curse you infrastructure monopolies and public privatisation!

But more importantly for me – and my presence here on OnlySP – it means that I am basically unable to play games.

Okay okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I can still play Vita games, and many of the titles I have installed on my PC. Some games work on my PS4 – when I can turn it on. Xbox One is completely out of the question, though – I only have Titanfall at the moment.

That’s beside the point. I can play games on my PS4 when I can turn it on. I can play games on my Xbox One (if I had any) when I can turn it on. And I can play games on my PC when I turn it on.

I can’t turn any of them on.

Well I can, but not really.

Here’s the problem – I can play games on PC with Steam in offline mode. That works fine. That works okay. I have never really had many problems with offline mode for Steam and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately for me, I usually have Steam set to start online, when I forget to switch it. And, due to my own stupid habits, I generally forget that I have set Steam to automatically update games. Because I am an idiot. Sure, I can change that setting, and it’s my own darn fault, but once a one gig or so update starts for a game I have installed, I can’t stop it.

Well, I can stop it, but I can’t play the game until it’s fully updated. And, to download one gig at under 200kB/s takes… quite a while.

This is similar on my PS4. I have it set to automatically check for updates like the idiot I am, and it starts updating files automatically. Luckily, on PS4 you can play games while they’re updating, so it’s not as big a deal.

But here we run into another problem – one that is shown clearest through my Xbox One.

Sometimes, you have to update the OS.

Again, on PS4, this isn’t a huge deal. I can still play a bunch of games without online features pretty easily. I can’t access the store, or any network features, until the update has been applied, though, which can cause complications.

On Xbox One it’s even worse.

I can’t do anything until it’s downloaded the update.

Nothing at all.

And, since the update currently in pending is a few gig, it means my Xbox One is almost entirely out of commission.

See, along with the slow speed, I am also infrequently and randomly dropping connections. Sometimes downloads resume, sometimes they don’t. And when I can’t even turn on my device to get to a menu to tell it to NOT DOWNLOAD UPDATES, my Xbox One is effectively bricked.

Sure, I could have set all my consoles and devices to ignore automatic updates. I could have done that. If I had known that my internet would stuff up I would have done that. But now I can’t even get that far into my Xbox One to do that, and, well, okay I can do that with Steam and my PS4 so that’s completely my own dumb fault.

Either way, a lot of games won’t work if I can’t login to their proprietary platform (Origin, uPlay, whatever Squeenix’s thing is called), which means my gameplay is restricted anyway.

If you hadn’t noticed, this is basically a long-winded rant about how bad my experience with video games is at the moment and I am grumpy and tired and ill at the moment so forgive me this indulgence.

My point is, communication infrastructure is currently not at the point where we can make online connectivity a necessary feature for all experiences. We can’t always depend on the copper in the ground to be in one piece. We can’t always assume that our service providers act with competence.

Any third-party barrier (in this case internet connection) that is out of my control between me and my gaming experience is a consumer unfriendly thing, and developers and publishers should remember to consider this before shoehorning in arbitrary features that do more to serve publishers than consumers.

I do not want to connect to your platform to play a game, when your platform does nothing for me. Because sometimes, I can’t. And if I can’t play your game, then I will play someone else’s.

Lachlan Williams
Former Editor in Chief of OnlySP. A guy who writes things about stuff, apparently. Recovering linguist, blue pencil surgeon, and professional bishie sparkler. In between finding the latest news, reviewing PC games, and generally being a grumpy bossyboots, he likes to watch way too much Judge Judy. He perhaps has too much spare time on his hands. Based in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on twitter @lawksland.

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