Five Problems Console Online Networks Need to Solve

We love consoles here at Gamma Squad. We really do. We also love the Internet.

What we hate is how the two have combined in this godawful, unholy alliance to make actually playing a video game a nightmare.

It’s worth noting that Sony and Microsoft see your console buying habits as a Trojan horse: the idea is that you buy the console, hook it up to your TV…and start transacting your entire life digitally. This is why they’ve got Netflix, Hulu, and are constantly trying to one-up each other with streaming video.

But with that presence come problems, and not the least of those problems are…

#5) Patches

This is more the fault of developers and publishers than console makers, but we’re calling them out on it because it’s a problem that console makers could stop, and don’t.

Take, for example, the problems Bethesda seems to have making a game that works properly on a PS3 right out of the case. The attempt to patch the lag problem introduced a whole suite of new bugs and didn’t even fix the problem. And this was a problem Bethesda knew it was going to have, because serious problems have happened before.

The worst part is Xbox users will have it automatically downloaded and installed whether they want it or not. PS3 users, on the other hand, get to experience the joy of a patch alert appearing, and then having the download hang about a dozen times over five days before the patch actually fully downloads.

We’ve really got to ask this: since software is supposed to be where these consoles, sold at a loss, make up the difference in price, why are broken games tolerated? Seriously, all you have to do is say “No, your game has to pass our quality tests. None of this ‘buy a new game, put in the disc, immediately see an alert for a ‘1.01 update’ garbage.”

#4) Custom Browsers

Yes, we get it, our consoles are connected to the Internet, and the Internet is awesome. But do you have to make it so painful to use?

Is there a particular reason we need a custom browser? Don’t hand us any line about software, or processing, or anything: there’s no reason your box couldn’t run Chrome, or a fine Mozilla product: you just won’t let it.

Sony in particular has no excuse because it’s not like they’ve got any money staked on the software game: they’re a consumer products company. They don’t even have a browser. Why do we have what amounts to a steaming pile of crap?

And while we’re on the topic…

#3) Flash

We are all against Flash in the abstract; it makes restaurant websites suck, it’s got security problems, the constant updates and refusal to play nice with non-Windows/OSX systems is annoying (just ask a Linux user how they feel about Flash’s yearly crap-the-bed)…but it’s a necessary evil, because it’s everywhere.

We know why it’s not allowed on XBox; Microsoft wants you to download their games. But the PS3 implementation is so crappy, it might as well not be on there. Of course, this means, by total coincidence, that Amazon Instant Video doesn’t work well on the PlayStation 3. GEE I WONDER IF THAT’S RELATED.

#2) The Babysitter Problem

We get that gaming is popular among kids and adults alike, and we get that idiot parents buy their children inappropriate games all the time…but is having an area where ostensible adults can play games with other ostensible adults really too much to ask?

It’s not even the fifteen-year-olds calling themselves PorkSword420 that’s really the problem, it’s the fact that legions of them get bought the hot new game, which is invariably rated Mature, and unleashed in a community that centers around shooting people in the face. So, the actual adults in the room, who just want to play the game, wind up having to teach some brat that just because you have the Noob Tube doesn’t mean you get to run around hurling racial slurs and being a douche.

Babysitting other people’s children is not our job. Why are you making it our job? Is it so hard to just ban anybody below a certain age from multiplayer on certain games? You can’t tell me that wouldn’t go over well with the general public: “Preteen boys no longer allowed to shoot total strangers and perform homophobic acts after doing so on the Internet.” That’s a headline with no downside.

#1) Network Stability

Out of all the problems, this is the most offensive, by a country mile.

PS3 users in particular are used to seeing “There has been an error and your console has logged out.” You can expect to sign back into the network at least once. But 360 users have it worse: after all, they have the exact same problem…and they have to pay for access.

Come on guys, running a stable network over somebody else’s cables is not hard. Everyone does it. Most people run freaking wireless networks in their home with no problem. You can’t have a console talk to a server without stuttering? What is this? 1993?

If you want to dominate our living rooms, have the decency to have a network that works. That simple.

How about you, gentle reader? Any console network problems you’re having?