Apr 11 2013 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Will the Next-Gen Xbox Have an Always-Online Requirement?

Gaming Roundup Xbox Next-Gen Durango Always-Online

A series of reports claiming that the next-gen Xbox, codenamed Durango, would have an always-online requirement recently made waves around the gaming world, prompting many gamers to outrage and frustration driven by lessons seemingly unlearned from the launch fiascos of always-online AAA titles such as SimCity and Diablo III. It has certainly been an eventful week for Microsoft, to say the least—ranging from initial reports, to outspoken employees, to a firing, and now to a conflicting report. Let’s take a look back.

Kotaku first reported rumours of the next Xbox’s always-online requirement, citing two sources who claimed that the console requires an “active internet connection to be used,” that no apps or games can be started without an online connection, and that any active games or apps are suspended when an interrupted connection is discovered. Microsoft refused to confirm or deny the report when contacted by Kotaku. Microsoft creative director Adam Orth later added fuel to the fire via his Twitter account, openly mocking anti-online-DRM advocates and telling those expressing concern to #dealwithit. Microsoft acted quickly to distance themselves from Orth’s comments, issuing a statement apologizing for and disclaiming his Twitter posts. In fact, a recent report from Joystiq suggests that Microsoft went so far as to release Orth, though Microsoft has issued no comment on the matter. Microsoft’s lack of comment on the issue, coupled with Orth’s subsequent comments, would seem to lend some credence to the possibility of an always-online Xbox. In the wake of these rumors, Sony has taken this opportunity to confirm that the PlayStation 4 will not require an online connection to run or play games.

However, gamers should be careful not to jump the gun quite yet. As noted, there has been no official word from Microsoft on the issue at hand, and further, CVG now reports that the next Xbox will not require an always-online connection. This report is also unconfirmed as of yet, but even if true, it remains to be seen as to whether this has always been the case, or if this is an about-face by Microsoft due to gamer backlash.

Until more concrete information comes our way... what are your thoughts, dear reader? Would you buy an always-online console? Why or why not? Let us know below.

In other gaming news this week, thatgamecompany plans to change the industry—again, EA is named “Worst Company of the Year”—again, and ShackNews investigates the current whereabouts of a forgotten classic—No One Lives Forever.

  • Eidos Montreal claims that the PC version of the next Thief game will not be merely a cash-grab, throwaway console port. Developer Stephane Roy states that “the PC version is very important” and that Eidos will be sure to fully optimize the game for PC.

  • So, um, remember that Halo movie that District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp was spearheading? He still wants to do it. Get on it, studios.
  • Gaming Roundup No One Lives Forever CoverFinally, ShackNews asks: whatever happened to No One Lives Forever? NOLF, an intellectual, charming, and flat-out fun spy caper/shooter, was one of the best games of the early 2000s, and we’ve made it a personal mission to pester the good folks over at Good Old Games on pretty much a weekly basis to check in on the availability of the game. Sadly, according to ShackNews, the status of the game’s IP rights is currently unknown, which likely remains the largest stumbling block in the game being re-issued. Old school PC gamers, keep your fingers crossed....

If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

1. Noblehunter
"Every device is always on"? My consoles and PC, sure. Their servers?

Look at SimCity and Diablo3, the problem wasn't caused by consumer's Internet connection.
2. RobertX
My money is going elsewhere.
3. The Fine Print
Not to mention, if their servers are on you get the constant lag on the best days. Wonderful extra loading screentime as the servers check to make sure you haven't dared to change anything. And I have limited bandwidth, everything might always be on but everything doesn't need to be on and running bandwidth just so you can try to prevent someone else from pirating...

And you know what spend half the time you waste on developing DRM on making a good game/story and more people will buy it because it's good.
4. graftonio
I'll #dealwithit by not buying an Xbox whether it has an always online requirement or not. Companies that hire people dumb enough to go online and mouth off like that to run things for them don't inspire me to buy a lot of their products.
5. Thoughtnaut
If the new xbox requires users to be constantly online and the PS4 doesn't, Microsoft is basically selling PS4s and doing Sony's advertising for them. When we were kids, we used to take the Nintendo with us on long trips to relatives' houses and places like that. If one system can be used at granny's house and one can't, it's going to be like when the Dreamcast lost the console wars because it couldn't play DVDs.
Brent Longstaff
6. Brentus
Usually that kind of thing is pushed by content producers (look how Tor ebooks could go DRM-free), so if they aren't making Sony do it, then they are not likely to make Microsoft do it. If Microsoft insisted on putting always-connected DRM despite game producers' wishes, it would be like if Amazon decided to put DRM on Tor Kindle books despite Tor's asking them not to. That doesn't seem likely. What actually could make sense would be for some Xbox cloud service to provide a DRM service with lots of servers behind it, so if a clueless game producer wants to plague gamers with always-connected DRM, they could just opt in to a robust system that could handle the load, instead of throwing together an insufficient server setup and getting hammered like SimCity did.
7. RobertX
Orthy no longer works at Microsoft.
8. TomT
Well hopefully the Xbox 720 won't be always on. But if it is I certainly won't be buying one to replace my Xbox 360. I have a PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii on the table next to my TV so I'm not seeing the reason I should bother upgrading to an always on device. I avoid cloud based systems as much as I can. If I buy software I want it on my computer and not needing a server somewhere.
Noneo Yourbusiness
9. Longtimefan
The problem with the statement claiming that "always on" is the way things are missed the point.

Things do not have to be that way.

Thunderstoms and high tides are the kinds of things that one has to "deal with". Technology is created and therefore can be better or worse, accomodating or obstinant.

The future is not about being online all the time. The future is and has always been about having a choice. Not the binary have or not choice but the wide range of options that civilization brings through cultivation of ideas and technologies.
10. jasonw
this is such an old story, so much has happened let me add the links

Xbox response

o yea that guy got fired
13. Tumas
A Batman Arkham game without Rocksteady or confirmation from any of the voice cast of their return? I'll remain cautiously optimistic for now.
14. Steve Mortimer
When it comes to the xBox stuff, always on would be a deal breaker for me, but then so would mandatory Kinect installation (I don't have enough space for a kinect to work at all in my room and as it's a shared house I can take over the living room) so I had pretty much written off the whole thing anyway.
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
Here's EA's brilliant response to being named again.
Pritpaul Bains
16. Kickpuncher
@10 jasonw - Thanks! Those links are also available in paragraphs 2 and 3 of OP. :)

@13 Tumas - I'm a bit skeptical myself, even though it has Rocksteady's blessing. Will monitor closely...

@15 Aeryl - God I want that to be real. Fantastic.
Marcus W
17. toryx
Always online would be a dealbreaker for me. That kept me from buying Diablo 3 and it would keep me from buying any console that required it.
Kat Blom
18. pro_star
the always online thing is just silly. Guess what guys? Sure, the majority seem to live in areas with plentiful broadband connections, but what about those of us in rural areas? I'm only 45 minutes outside of a major city, we JUST got broadband this past year. Not everyone has it. Sure, there's satellite internet...which throttles you to no end, and the gods help you in slightly iffy weather...but really?
Jenny Kristine
19. jennygadget
I'm the youth specialist for my local library. We currently have an xbox w/ kinect set up in our program room for teens to use (among other things) afterschool.

An always online requirement could be a dealbreaker, depending on the details of how it works. These aren't MY kids. Also, the room is open to some kids under age 13. Aside from the fact that I just don't want to be making that decision for other people's kids (even if it's the library account they are using), we could be violating COPPA by doing so.

Also, what pro-star said @ 18. Do they think people come to use our computers because we have the latest software or something? As if.
20. jasonw
@16 well last night when they posted the atricle it was not, there was no mention of it at all.

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