Boy did the Xbox One make a splash when Microsoft revealed that the console had to be connected to the Internet to play games past 24 hours.
We decided to talk to a few Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers about what this will mean for gaming in the military.
It’s worth noting the military is comprised mostly of males, ages 18 – 35, the key demographic for video games.
“I predict a major shift to PlayStation Marine Corps-wide,” said a former Marine who’s done two tours aboard a carrier strike group at sea and who has beta-tested games for various companies. “Xbox is going to tank in the military.”
At any given moment, tens of thousands of service members do not have active access to internet where they live, at home, abroad, and at sea. Factor in shoddy barracks connectivity, and that number may just jump into the hundreds of thousands.
“Hell, even in barracks its a pain,” the Marine said, “what about training ops, shifting rooms, and all manner of … moves that are going to mess with a necessity for being always online?”
The solution is simple as far as Microsoft is concerned: then don’t get an Xbox One.
At E3, a reporter bluntly asked Microsoft Chief Of Interactive Entertainment Don Mattrick, “So stick with 360? That’s your message if you don’t like it [having to always be connected]?”
Then Mattrick went on to say this:
“Well, if you have zero access to the internet, that is an offline device. I mean seriously, when I read the blogs and thought about who was really the most impacted there was a person who said ‘Hey, I’m on a nuclear sub’ and I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub but I could imagine that it’s not easy to get an internet connection.”
Mattrick used troops serving aboard a nuclear sub (for which they justifiably get hazardous duty pay) as a punchline to a joke about not having Internet.
This isn’t just an issue about being confined in a submarine. At ship, there is absolutely no Internet. And yet, the Xbox ruled all.
“Xbox was the previous favourite,” the Marine said. “‘Halo’ has always been an essential team LAN game aboard ship. It was almost a standard. Lots of people had it so easy to link Xboxes for 4 on 4,” said the Marine.
“Xbox was king of social gaming aboard ship.”
The king could fall. Hard.
A group of gaming Marines, Soldiers and Sailors broke down some numbers for us, and it turns out that somewhere around 25 to 30,000 troops do duty aboard ship at any given moment. Another Navy Sailor pointed out to us that there’s at least 6 to 7,000 troops aboard those submarines Mattrick so flippantly referenced.
Not to mention the majority of the stateside military living in barracks rooms, where random room changes occur regularly.
Barracks Internet connections are hit or miss at best.
Counting the Coast Guard, the number of active duty military, most of which lives in barracks housing, rests at around 1.4 million. That’s a lot of units sold or not sold — [take our POLL] — even more of a reason Mattrick might want to step tenderly around the subject of uniformed members.
We contacted Microsoft for a statement about Mattrick’s punchline and its implications. In specific, we wanted to know if there was any consideration at all for troops serving in austere conditions.
This was the Microsoft response we recieved:
“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection. Although we’re very excited about Xbox One, we remain dedicated to Xbox 360 now and for years to come. In fact, we are expecting some of the greatest blockbusters of 2013 and 2014 to come out on Xbox 360 such as ‘Grand Theft Auto V,’ ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts,’ ‘Madden NFL 25’ and ‘FIFA 14.'”
The canned statement can be boiled down to two things: Microsoft still thinks the XBox 360 will be cool for at least two years, and if you don’t have Internet, don’t buy an XBox One.
We responded and pressed for a statement in specific addressing troops who might want to buy an XBox One console and then take it with them on a deployment or, in many cases, just plug it into their barracks room and play.
The response we received was that Microsoft had nothing more to say on the topic.
So if you’re in the military and a gamer (likely) with the potential of having spotty internet (we’ve been there), Microsoft wants you to buy 10-year-old old Xbox 360 technology. For those troops not at all too keen on having a non-playable XBox One 24 hours after disconnecting it from the web or a “new” old generation 360, there’s always the next generation PS4 which is playable offline.
Watch Mattrick’s comment below. Starts at 1:30.
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