I'm paying close attention to the upcoming consoles of Microsoft and Sony, not only because I enjoy playing a game or two every now and then, but also because console launches are often controversially discussed. I'm not talking about "my system is better than yours" flame wars, but the one that is directly linked to what the systems have to offer, or lack.
For some time now rumors were floating around on various Internet websites that Sony's and Microsoft's, or only one of the systems, would require a permanent Internet connection for all activities.
The Orth incident back in April highlighted that a vocal part of the gaming community disliked the idea of systems that were online all the time. This was not driven only by users who did have to use dial-up connections or did not have Internet at all in times, but also by users who had fast stable connections. As you all know, problems can not only arise on the user's end, but also on the game server's or provider's end.
If Microsoft's Xbox Live service went down, it would render all systems useless. The recent launch of Sim City has shown that even established gaming companies like EA cannot guarantee the capacities needed to provide all gamers with access to games if those games require an Internet connection.
Ars Technica writer Peter Bright cites an internal Microsoft memo that the company sent to all employees that are working full-time on the next version of Xbox.
Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet." It continues, "There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game
The information need to be taken with a grain of salt, as they have not been confirmed by Microsoft yet (and won't be anytime soon).
If true, it indicates that Microsoft's upcoming system Xbox 720 will not require an always-on Internet connection for certain activities, including playing single-player games, watching Blu-Ray movies or watching live TV.
What is interesting about this is that Microsoft felt compelled to sent an email memo this close to the official announcement of the system. It is quite possible that the company worked on an always-on system all the time but decided against it after it felt the backlash of the Orth affair in April. This would also explain why the Xbox launch event was postponed by a month.
There are other possible explanations though, for instance to make sure that all employees are on the same page in regards to the system's capabilities.
Still, the memo hints at two other features that the next Xbox will feature: Blu-Ray support and cable box support.
Microsoft will reveal the next Xbox on Tuesday 21, 2013.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.