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LOS ANGELES — Don Mattrick doesn’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear submarine. That’s what the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division told GameTrailers in an interview Tuesday during the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
What do submarines have to do with consoles such as the Xbox One? Well, the executive was talking about Xbox One’s online requirement, which has the system checking in every 24 hours. If the system fails that check, then the console will no longer work with games. And this could be a problem for members of the military who serve in remote locations (or gamers who live in areas with poor or nonexistent broadband Internet support) — or under the sea.
“When I thought about who’s really the most impacted, there was a person that said he [serves] on a nuclear sub — I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub,” said Mattrick. “I’ve got to imagine it’s not easy to get an Internet connection.”
Sure, it’s a little cold for Mattrick, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, to laugh off the plight of someone who simply can’t use an Xbox One for months because they are serving in the military. But the idea that Mattrick doesn’t get what it’s like to live for months at sea isn’t a crazy one. I don’t really know what that’s like, and I bet most of you don’t know, either.
Now, I don’t have the resources of Microsoft, but I was able to contact a U.S. Navy sailor to actually find out what it’s like to live at sea for months at a time and what the Xbox One’s daily online check-in requirement will mean for his downtime. The serviceman asked to remain anonymous.
“Nothing should only be playable over the Internet,” the submariner told me. “We work all the time. Now, I work harder than most, but I check e-mail once a week and play games every few days. Mostly it’s Call of Duty or other shooters — which is hilarious to me — or sport games so that four people can play at once. But if you get lucky, you can play a campaign-based game. I like long open-world games that you can just do what you want. It’s relaxing, so if games require online, I would hate it.”
I told him about Mattrick’s comment and asked him if the consoles can connect to the Internet.
“Hell, no! Come on, man,” he told me. “We’re not on a cruise ship.”
Mattrick suggests that someone like this sailor stick to Xbox 360. That console doesn’t require an online connection.