Xbox 720 always-on rumor appears untrue

Martin Brinkmann
May 7, 2013
Updated • May 7, 2013

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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  1. ikke said on May 7, 2013 at 5:56 am

    There is one other option, that I would seem resonable.
    That is that de Durango DevKit were expected to be always online.
    This I would find a good protection for DevKit leaks ans misuse by 3dr party developers.
    And that some (stupid) guy(s) have interpreted this that the Xbox720 should have this too.

  2. Nebulus said on May 7, 2013 at 4:44 am

    It is not the first time when Microsoft backtracks on features that they deemed great for the users but nobody wanted. If they really decided to give up always-on for the new XBOX, it means they listened to the future customers, and that is good news.

  3. anon said on May 7, 2013 at 4:29 am

    Looks more like backpedal.

    Something I’d like the OS division of MS have.

  4. Leaving The G said on May 7, 2013 at 2:34 am

    It’s not that the rumor appears untrue. It’s more like this memo is being sent/leaked to make sure that this feature DOES work offline after the recent uproars.
    If it weren’t something feasible, this “memo” would not have any need to be sent. The thing is that MSoft, actually could have desired the consumers to require an internet service to be always on, and did have this requirement for a few who have their devkits already.
    I’m waiting here to see what MSoft does, but I’m not sure I’m going to be getting their next console as my main relaxing device, I’ll get one to research it, and jailbreak/modify it offline.
    It seems MSoft has lost their way in almost everything.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 7, 2013 at 2:53 am

      I really liked the first Xbox. While it was loud and maybe not the fastest, I was able to turn it into the main entertainment device in my living room.

      1. Leaving The G said on May 7, 2013 at 4:56 am

        I know what you mean. Just last week, I was playing Ninja Gaiden with the Hurricane Pack DLCs. Ah, back in the day when DLC was still free.
        I absolutely refuse to participate in the current customer milking generation.

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