Ever since the official Need For Speed Twitter account broke the news that the reboot of Need For Speed would require an always-on connection to play both single-player and multiplayer, gamers have been asking EA and developers Ghost Games “Why?”, well the answer has finally arrived and you may not like it.
Games Radar pulled some quotes from the upcoming Official Xbox Magazine where Ghost Games' executive producer Marcus Nilsson explained in the interview why Need For Speed needs an always-on connection, saying...
We’ve been pretty big with Autolog throughout the years and, as we know, it’s a really powerful feature,[...] This time around we’re going to give it more of a human voice. It will treat your friend’s play as if it is part of the narrative experience.
So the reason the Need For Speed reboot needs to always be online is for Autolog? That featured was more of an afterthought in the previous Need For Speed titles and anytime it was offline it made it next to nigh impossible to log-in and play certain Need For Speed titles. That's not to mention that if you didn't have friends who played often the Autolog was practically useless.
That's not to mention that not everyone cares about Autolog – a system that records and matches up your data and progress against your friends. EA used the Autolog system in previous Need For Speed titles to help setup multiplayer meta-games – for instance someone could set a record time on a track and Autolog would record it and you could attempt to beat that time. It wasn't really all that great and it certainly doesn't justify an always-on setup.
Yet here we are, two years removed from the SimCity fiasco and three years removed from the Diablo mess and Electronic Arts is still pushing for the always-on functionality in a series that historically functioned quite well without it.
Of course, the whole point of always-on is so that the publisher can control the end-user experience. If you get too attached to a really fun game and refuse to get the sequel or upgrade, the servers can be shutdown on the old game to help migrate those players over to the newer one. Always-on also controls how companies like Electronic Arts can monitor and directly gauge the demographic of their titles – what their ages are, how long they play, how much DLC they buy, etc., etc., etc. It's a great tool for marketers since everyone has to have a registered profile and everyone has to be online.
According to Nilsson these online-only functions will benefit the community, and the tie-in with other Xbox One features will make it worthwhile...
We also have a new snapshot system as well, […] Which is taking pictures of a lot of different moments – [they go] out to the Need for Speed network where people can ‘like’ them, and those likes are being pushed back into the game as currency. So you get progression from sharing your photos. The Xbox One has really good built-in systems to make videos and stream them, which we are also going to use.
I have no interest in always-on games but if you like those sort of titles you can look for the reboot of Need For Speed to launch on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC starting November 3rd.