Following speculation that Microsoft’s hotly rumored next-generation console might feature an "always-online" requirement for its customers, one Microsoft executive has taken to the Internet in an attempt to make his case for this controversial sort of digital rights management (DRM). Or, rather, Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth told always-online’s detractors that they should just "deal with it."
"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on'console," Orth tweeted early Friday morning. "Every device now is ‘always on’. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit"
"I want every device to be 'always on,' Orth went on to say, telling one vocal critic whose friends don’t have regular access to the Internet but own Microsoft’s current generation console, the Xbox 360, that they should "get with the times and get the Internet."
Fellow game industry insider Manveer Heir, who currently works as a designer on “Mass Effect” at BioWare, also took Orth to task for his response, saying that "deal with it is a sh**ty reason" and asking if Microsoft had not learned anything from the disastrous launches of "SimCity" and "Diablo III."
"Sometimes the electricity goes out. I will not purchase a vacuum cleaner," Orth said in response. "The mobile phone reception in the area I live in is spotty and unreliable. I will not buy a mobile phone."
Heir later qualified his disagreement with Orth, saying that he was a "dear friend" and "one of the good guys."
Orth’s statements on Twitter came shortly after popular gaming site Kotaku ran a story that claimed two Microsoft sources had all but confirmed that the company’s upcoming Xbox 360 successor would feature some kind of always-online requirement. This type of DRM has formed many longstanding feuds between gamers and video game publishers, most recently with the botched launch of "SimCity" and the developer’s own admission that, while the game could be run offline, it wouldn’t let gamers use it that way anyways.
Most prominent cases of unloved DRM in the video game industry have centered on individual titles such as "SimCity" and "Diablo III," or game publishers such as Ubisoft which last year decided to abandon DRM for its PC games entirely after several years of brutal spats with its players. If Microsoft does make the entire Xbox 720 device function with some sort of always-online requirement, the entire conflict over DRM will become a question of hardware, not just software. This may help game publishers like Ubisoft or Electronic Arts save face in the eyes of their most ardent fans, but placing more requirements for the “proper use” of a device on its users will undoubtedly rankle those same players — and could even come to disturb fellow game developers as well.
Orth's Twitter account has since been made private, but one enterprising NeoGAF user posted the relevant social media exchange on the forum for posterity.
When we contacted Microsoft for comment a spokesperson replied "We are aware of the comments made by an employee on Twitter. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views are not reflective of those of the company. We have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email email@example.com.