The always online stuff is the reason I didn't get Sim City 5. There was tons of backlash around that event and for good reason. That said, there are situations where Always Online makes sense, in a kind of duh-thats-obvious way. MMO's, for example. They're a game where you have to be online to play, because thats the point.
There's a lesson here. The reason why there's so much backlash against Always Online stuff is that its being put into games without any associated value to the players to soften the blow. If you had a game that requires Always Online, but actually built its game-play around the online component, I think people would object much less. And even then, it just has to look like its supposed to be an online game - all of those grindy solo things people spend 90% of their time in WoW doing could just as easily be part of an offline game, if you think about it. But people don't question having to be online for that, because as a whole the thing is an MMO.
Another model that is far more palatable is 'online-enhanced'. This would be a game that is completely playable offline, but some parts of the game require being online to use. An example that comes to mind is the map designer/map exchange in Disgaea 4. Another example, one I personally find kind of repellent because it doesn't really seem to add any actual value, is the Steam Trading Card thing - it only tracks your hours played if you have steam online in the background.
So really the issue is that the big forces in the industry are basically saying 'you will be online and you will like it and you're too weak-willed to not buy our games'. Thats a slap in the face to their customers, and its no wonder that its causing PR disasters.