So it appears that rumors and indicators that Microsoft’s next Xbox would require an “always online” Internet connection were untrue. According to a leaked internal memo obtained by Ars Technica, the next Xbox will NOT require an always on internet connection and will allow for offline play of single-player video games and Blu-ray Discs, among other content. The memo in question was reportedly sent to all full-time Microsoft employees who are working on the console and refers to it as “Durango,” the company’s codename for the system. The key section of the memo reads:
“Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today’s Internet,” the memo reads. “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.”
In that short paragraph, it appears that Microsoft has confirmed quite a bit. Not only do they seem to confirm that when the next Xbox ships to retail it shouldn’t use an always online architecture but with the mention of live TV it seems to indicate that rumors of the box being able to double as a cable set-top box are true as well. Not to mention the part about it playing Blu-Ray.
The truth of the matter is that when Sony came out and said they weren’t blocking used games and they weren’t going always on, it put Microsoft into a bit of a corner. Add that to the fact that average connection speeds in the U.S. in particular just aren’t there and it became a bit of a no brainer. As I said a while back, if Microsoft had went “always on”, they would have basically conceded this console generation to Sony from the jump. While this seems pretty legit, we will hear everything straight from the horse’s mouth in a few short weeks on May 21st when Microsoft finally reveals the next Xbox to the world.