Forced Discomfort

It is a term you might not know, but this term is central in the current Xbox One debacle. You see the Windows 10 update came with a massive setback, you now have to be online to validate your profile and to play games. The first of a few steps that Microsoft is undertaking, undoing the events of 2013 and to get back on track. Now if you look at Xbox support, you will find that the Xbox now has an ‘offline mode’.

The page (at http://support.xbox.com/en-AU/xbox-one/networking/using-xbox-one-offline), shows several parts, let me show just two that matter:

You need to be online to experience everything Xbox One has to offer, but when you’re offline, you can still:

  • Sign in to your profile, but only if you’ve signed in online before. This includes the Kinect automatic sign-in mode, if you set that up while you were online.
  • Play games, if you have a disk or you’re on your home console (see About My home Xbox to learn more).

Now the second part, a side that was NEVER an issue before:

There are some capabilities that you need to be online to use, such as:

Playing games that require online sign-in, even for a single player.

Now, this has happened with games that came from the Microsoft Store that is not a secret, but is that the only occasion?

As for the steps to do this:

How to go offline

  • Scroll left on the ‘Home‘ screen to open the guide.
  • Select ‘Settings‘.
  • Select ‘All Settings‘.
  • Select ‘Network‘.
  • Select ‘Network settings‘, and then select ‘Go offline‘.

Your network status will change to offline. To go back online, follow the previous steps, but in ‘Network settings‘ select ‘Go online‘.

Here is the massive issue as I see it. With computers and laptops this was never an issue. You go home, you either connect the network cable or the router could be automatically found. No interaction required. The Xbox360 had exactly the same parts. If I wanted to be inline, I connected the network cable for the time that it was needed. It was never an issue. In my case I had one network cable and one free connection and two consoles, this is why I did that. Even today I am faced with this on the PS4 and the Xbox One. In addition, I see no reason to be ‘connected’ all the time. So why is this now such an issue?

As I see it, this mandatory online is not really mandatory, but as I see it Microsoft is forcing us online, or to be connected and by changing the premise by having to set the network offline and online, we will eventually tire and be connected all the time. We do not win here, only Microsoft does!

This is called ‘forced discomfort‘. Which comes from the Forced Choice Scale of Discomfort. This we get from the 1987 work of J. H. Bernardin in the Academy of Management Journal, 30, 162-173. Development and Validation of a Forced Choice Scale to Measure Job-Related Discomfort Among Customer Service Representatives. This is only one approach to it all, but it is the foundation of what we often face today. The man is a decently brilliant Psychologist and has worked on many projects. In this specific case we use a force choice scale, which was developed to measure discomfort based on characteristics of a specific job. You get to choose 2 scenarios, which causes the most discomfort. For example:

  1. Having to listen to someone’s point of view with which you disagree (perhaps this blog).
  2. Your work is closely monitored (loads of examples).

Now knowing the forced scale will influence our reaction to the situation and Microsoft was entirely unpleased with our desire to remain offline when we prefer it. They prefer a steady stream of data. Now take the previous setting and consider the following statements

  1. Having to patch a game regularly.
    b. constantly adjusting your network settings.
    c. Having to synch save games.
    d. Having to change the disc of a game whilst playing.
    e. Switching the batteries in your controller.

Which two would be your most discomfortable ones? Now, in all fairness I should have added 15 more items, but the chances are really great that network settings would score high, which is what we face now on the Xbox One. There was no need for any of this on the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the PS4, so why is this an Xbox One issue?

Because Microsoft wants to return to the 2013 issue that they need data of many kinds. Even if they are not privacy driven. For them to know exactly how many gamers are online playing, the amounts of hours connected is all data they would love to have. None of it goes back to your identity, so there is no privacy issue, but that level of data details one that they can charge game makers for, and they could end up charging a lot.

This is why I am so angry with Microsoft, because as a consumer I feel betrayed! Now consider your desktop and laptop (if you have them), do you need to switch your settings to offline? No you don’t! So if Microsoft can figure this out on those systems as well as the Xbox 360, why make us go through these events?

As I see it, the only conclusion I get is that they have ulterior motives, motives that are not for the consumers that they should be serving as the consumer paid for the device. In this regard we could consider another paper by John Bernardin, namely ‘Conscientiousness and agreeableness as predictors of rating leniency’, you can probably guess the next part. Why should we show leniency towards Microsoft in any way, shape or form? Was their act of backwards compatibility a way to create agreeableness?

And as Microsoft stated on the 12thwe put fans at the centre of everything we do and wanted to make some big changes‘ (at http://news.xbox.com/2015/11/12/new-xbox-one-experience-begins-today/), then why do you keep on pushing for mandatory login through forced discomfort? It seems that you never had any ‘fan’ in the centre, only your own greedy need for a stable stream of connection data! The fact that the press remains oblivious to all this makes me wonder what else we might be forced to face and a third test will be done next week to ascertain a few more items. I do not know what the effect will be but I will explain that fully in the next (and perhaps final part) of all this.

I have no idea whether people will catch on before thanksgiving and Christmas in the US. Even purely Windows 10 has a few issues. Forbes reported: “While the option to disable is nice, ‘Windows Update Delivery Optimization’ (WUDO) is another example of where Microsoft should be more transparent with Windows 10 and let them know upfront what their devices will be doing behind their backs by default” (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2015/08/02/windows-10-vs-windows-8-vs-windows-7-whats-the-difference/), so what else does the new Xbox OS push for and Microsoft has not been upfront about it?

I still have an issue with non-stop online. This might be my own paranoia, yet as we see computers getting hacked into (often due to stupidity of the user), having a power core at your disposal as they turn your console into a botnet. Is that such a stretch? No!

Consider the following data: “the slides from Frank Savage’s presentation at Build 2014 along with the audio of the same. We noticed the fact that Xbox One runs Windows 8” Now this will be Windows 10, so having an app that becomes a remote botnet is not a stretch and by the time people start to consider that their console is doing a lot more than walk ‘the wasteland’, we are confronted with a few hundred thousand consoles, all playing ‘spam the neighbour’. Now I am not stating that Microsoft is not taking precautions, but so far every windows version has been breached multiple times. Soon consoles will be also forced to consider additional apps to protect against such intrusions, it is the price of being always online!

Is it an immediate danger? No it is not! I am not stating, suggesting or implying this, but we know that EVERY Windows system has had its flaws and so will the Xbox One. Often not dangerously, but when a console is always reachable that danger just increases. This is my personal issue with always being connected. It is why I am sparingly connected (and because I have one wire for more than one console).

But I diverged from the initial issue of forced discomfort, I did so intentionally so that you realise that consoles have many sides, they often have more options and powers than the average gamer realises. This is not a bad thing, but in all this that realisation is also linked to the sequence of events as they are now playing.

When you realise that your system can do more than you realise, it will give on the other side of the coin the statement: ‘you can lose more than you think because you never realised that you could have lost it’.

That requires a little explaining. Consider ‘you cannot lose what you never knew you had’ and ‘things can be removed from you when you realise that it was an implied gift, not an actual one’. The first one is often shaped into: “you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it“, a statement that might be true, but I do not agree with it. You see in my view, when you lose you never knew you had, you stop your own evolution. The realisation of new is at the core of growth, which takes me to the second part. An implied gift is still a gift, having it taken away is not wrong of debatably criminal, it is merely an act that stops your evolution. For as you lost elements of growth, your actions become empty. This is why I am so against the entire situation. For the most, I was never a multiplayer man, so I never missed multiplayer, yet I learned that Mass Effect 3 came with plenty of grudges and complaints, yet it also came with the best multiplayer experience ever! Mass Effect 3 was the founding father of me remaining a Gold Live member. Even if I no longer play that game in any way shape or form, that game put Gold on the map for me and as such I evolved due to a part I never knew I had. In that same instance, the implied ownership is still an issue, because even though I no longer play it, the Mass Effect 3 Cerberus system is an implied gift, not an actual one. At some point Mass Effect 3 will no longer be multiplayer, no longer work online. At that point our multiplayer evolution stops (until the next game comes along). Even as I ‘demand’ that my single player game will forever play on the intended console, I will never expect a service like multiplayer to remain active. In that same light I expect a game or preowned game to always unreservedly work on the console version it was made for, but in that same light I see multiplayer as a service, which means that a separate multiplayer is not transferable. This is my personal handle on the things that play, so in that same light, being able to play offline without forced discomfort is a given right, not a managed service. As Microsoft is pushing us to be all online (in the approach given to us in 2013), we should all lash out against Microsoft for leaving us betrayed.

There is also an additional issue when we consider ‘section 7b’ of Microsoft’s Services EULA where we see “may automatically check your version of the software and download software update or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorised hardware peripheral devices“, I do not have an issue with that. I buy my games, all my games! Yet these changes also allow for hunting those who ‘alter’ their Xbox so that they can do something that is called jailbreaking on iOS. These people (to the larger extent) are not interested in pirated games. These people want to play the latest games the moment they are released in Tokyo or the US. They do not want to wait a year for the ‘altered’ edition, they want to full Japanese experience. I get that and I am partially on their side too!

But these changes will not only make those acts no longer possible (which is debatable whether it should be allowed or not), but the second hand gaming world could in equal measure be blocked soon thereafter. Whether this will come true cannot be predicted, yet as Microsoft broke its word on not online gaming, what else will they regard as ‘flexible’?

The fact that the press is still not regarding the online login push as a fact is also a worry, because this was at the heart of the 2013 slump in pre-orders for the Xbox One. So why is no one else picking this up? One friend of mine did state that most people are always online and they do not care. Which is fair enough, yet those people chose this, so why force the others? Is that not a valid question too?

This all links to the premise behind this all. Microsoft marketing might state: “Microsoft will do what is best for you”, but from my evolutionary mind, the premise should be “I know what is best for me“, Microsoft has no clue what my needs are and they will never realise what they are when they push me for setting I am unsettled with, how can that lead to a good experience? I came from DOS, VMS and MVS and I grew into Windows 95 (and Mac OS), we all grew from one system into another one, yet if you allow yourself to be pushed into a system you do not understand, at that point we can only harm ourselves or what we represent (our data and our actions). So as we get pushed into a new system with new rules and changing terms of service we must start to realise that remaining agreeable and lenient is no longer an option, especially as the press is extremely willing to side with whomever advertises the most. Now it is time to address my own implied issues. You see, from my point of view this is not a mere issue, how come that the press is not all over it? I can’t be the only one who saw this element, I am not the only one confronted with the issues as presented with the latest OS update on the Xbox One. So why is no one seeing this? It could all just be me, but if that is the case, we could play online and offline by merely switching off a router and be able to play again without having to login, but that is not the reality I see. What I see is forced discomfort, is it just me or are you realising that switching off your Xbox router comes with setbacks and why is that?

We all need to start asking questions and Microsoft should give us some straight answers.

 

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