^They may have to when sales start to take a nose dive. At least, we can hope they do.
Sales already have
taken a nosedive. MS doesn't care, apparently.
Robert Maxwell wrote:
I would point to Microsoft's handling of Windows 8 as a perfect counterexample. Before release, people using the Metro interface complained about how it was unsuitable to a desktop. Post-release, people complained even more about this. Now, we've seen previews of the next version, and lo and behold, Microsoft has doubled down on Metro.
Yeah, they really give a shit what their customers think.
That's true, but all the complaints about the Metro interface online have led to the perception that Win8 is a "bad" OS entering the general consumer consciousness, the same way it did for Vista, which has in turn hurt sales for Win8. Its market-share is less than a third of Win7's during the same period following its release. Microsoft clearly believes they can take that hit because of the monopoly they've held in PCs for the last two decades, but Xbox isn't nearly as well established as Windows is. Ignoring the Wii, MS have roughly half the console market from this generation, and they incurred billions of dollars in losses across a decade to reach that point. They don't have a monopoly to leverage, they have to compete with a resurgent Sony, they have to offer gamers something we want or they'll fall by the wayside like Sega did.
I'm one of those people who doesn't think MS ever had a particularly smart strategy for their consoles. The Xbox was a joke that only succeeded (depending on your metric) because MS dumped fucktons of cash into it and basically force-fed it to the market. The 360 was a much better console in terms of hardware design and OS, indicating that they learned some lessons, but the real "killer app" was Xbox Live. The smartest thing MS did was figure out how to build a paid gaming subscription service that works well. They still get lots of praise for that.
It could be that they want to zero in and focus on that particular market, as it provides the holy grail of the software industry: that delicious, delicious recurring revenue. They may find it worth the cost to lose customers who refuse to sign on for such a console, I don't know.
Also, it's worth keeping these things in perspective. There was voluminous complaining about the PS3's price and using it as a BR trojan horse. In the end, it still edged out the 360, because it turns out complaints on the Internet represent only a tiny fraction of a product's total market base. Hell, the 360 still managed to move plenty of units even though it had severe manufacturing defects that, at one time, were bricking about half the consoles sold. You'd think that would be unforgivable, but nope. They still sold, and continue to sell.
I don't know whether MS' next console will require a constant Internet connection, and if it does, what that might entail in terms of the user experience. Only people at MS know that, and they aren't talking right now (on pain of termination, apparently.) What I can
say with some confidence is that, if the console turns out to have such a requirement, it will not impact sales to the degree people here assume it will. And that is for one simple reason: people willing to take the time to complain in detail on the Internet are more savvy and demanding consumers than 90% of the people who are going to end up buying and using these consoles.
Do you think most people buying 360s and PS3s knew or cared about the BR vs. HD-DVD format war? Nope. Do you think most knew or cared about the PS3's dramatically more complex hardware which made it difficult to develop for? Nope, they just cared about how much it cost and how expansive the library was. What did
people care about? Curiously enough, the extended PSN outage. Turns out people actually like
always being connected, and get upset when they suddenly can't be, to the point of Sony giving people free stuff to placate them.
Your average consumer wants to be more and more connected, not less. This is why I don't expect "always online" to be nearly as much of a dealbreaker as is constantly being speculated in this thread.