Posted on May 21, 2013, Ian Miles Cheong UPDATE: Xbox One Needs Internet Connection Once Per Day
For complete Xbox One coverage today: follow Game Front on Twitter for live-tweets during the reveal, and stay tuned to gamefront.com for full coverage and analysis.
UPDATE II: In a statement to Polygon, Microsoft representatives have characterized Harrison’s statements (see below) as “potential scenarios.” The company’s response is as follows:
“There have been reports of a specific time period — those were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be,” Microsoft said.
UPDATE: According to a report on Kotaku, the Xbox One won’t require a constant internet connection, and you’ll still have access to key services and features if you’re internet goes down, but it will need to connect to the internet at regular intervals. Once every “24 hours” to play single-player games, according to Microsoft Vice President Phil Harrison.
Here’s Harrison explaining the general concept:
There are many devices in your life that require the Internet to function. Xbox One is no different in that it requires, at some point in the beginning and at various times through its on state, to connect to our cloud and to our Internet. That is to deliver Xbox Live functionality, that is to deliver download content to you, that is to deliver some of the innovations around TV and entertainment that we showed today. But it doesn’t require it to be online all the time.
For single-player games that don’t require connectivity to Xbox Live, you should be able to play those without interruption should your Internet connection go down. Blu-ray movies and other downloaded entertainment should be accessible when your Internet connection may be interrupted. But the device is fundamentally designed to be expanded and extended by the Internet as many devices are today.
When asked specifically about playing single-player games, and how often Xbox One would need to connect to the internet in order to enable play, Harrison had this to say:
I believe it’s 24 hours.
Original story below
Microsoft provided a wealth of information about its new Xbox One console this morning; you can read Game Front’s comprehensive coverage here. That said, the presentation left many things in doubt. Despite mentions of the console being “connected and ready” for “connected experiences,” there is still no definitive answer to single question which has dominated pre-release conversation about the Xbox One: will it require an “always-on” internet connection?
The short answer, thankfully, seems to be “no.” Soon after the big reveal, Microsoft posted an FAQ on the official Xbox website that responded to the question directly:
Q: Does Xbox One require an “always on” Internet connection?
A: No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet.
This confusing response was then updated, and these two sentences were added.
“We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.”
The quote echoes remarks made by Xbox LIVE general manager Marc Whitten to the Official Xbox Magazine UK, which shed further light on the situation:
“So much of the experience is based on things that come from the internet, and obviously I will tell you that if you’re not connected, those things will not work…You will not be playing multiplayer, you will not be surfing the web, all those sorts of things. It is built to be a box that is a digital native of the web, it always wants to be connected, it always wants to be up to date, so you can get these great experiences. That said, we understand how the internet and the world works, and the box will operate with movies, TV, Blu-ray or whatever, you can play the single player side of your game while there’s an outage.”
According to the article’s author, OXM Deputy Editor Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, “one analogy for the new Xbox is a modern smartphone…a device that’s clearly at its best when hooked up to a network, but not one that’s dependent on it.”
The issue is further complicated by an article posted by Wired writer Chris Kohler on the magazine’s Game Life blog. According to Kohler:
“Xbox One will give game developers the ability to create games that use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, which means that they might be able to offload certain computing tasks to the cloud rather than process them on the Xbox One hardware itself. This would necessitate the game requiring a connection.”
Kohler also asked Whitten to address the issue:
“Are developers forced to create games that have these online features, and are thus not playable offline? They are not, Xbox exec Whitten said to Wired — but ‘I hope they do.’ So the always-online future may come in incremental steps.”
Despite Whitten’s remarks and the official response on the FAQ page, it’s still not quite clear, exactly, what kind of connection system Microsoft is describing. Does it work like Steam does on the PC, asking users to log on, register, and install a game, then play it with their internet connections enabled at least once before the game becomes available in offline mode?
The situation raises a number of key questions:
- Will it be possible to log onto the Xbox and play a game without having an internet connection at any point?
- Is it necessary to log onto the internet every time you launch a game?
- Will each game come with a registration or serial code that’s somehow tied to the player account?
- Are certain features disabled if the user’s Internet connection is down? If so, which ones?
Until Microsoft elaborates further on how this system functions, answers to the “always-online” question and descriptions of the connectivity requirements are reduced to the level of speculation and guess work. As we did with the day’s other big controversy — the possibility of the Xbox One including a built-in “online pass” feature — Game Front is reaching out to Microsoft for comment.
Read more of Ian Miles Cheong’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter:@stillgray and @gamefrontcom. Ben Richardson (Twitter:@B_C_Richardson) contributed to this piece. You can follow his work here.