Microsoft’s next-generation console, Xbox One, won’t function if you don’t connect it to the Internet.
Following Microsoft’s big reveal event today, the company posted a series of answers to questions that many people were asking. The first issue the company addressed is the console’s Internet requirement.
“No, [Xbox One] does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet,” reads the FAQ. “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 wording of that answer is broad but telling. Xbox One can lose its online connection, but it requires one to function. They are “designing” it so you can still play your games if you lose your connection — something that the Xbox 360 is already capable of.
The FAQ goes on to say that the Internet requirement enables Xbox One to access the cloud to make games better.
“The cloud makes every experience better and more accessible,” the FAQ continues. “Because Xbox One is powered by the cloud, your games have more power available to create new gameplay, persistent worlds, and deeper experiences. Your games and entertainment are stored and saved in the cloud, so you can access them anytime from any Xbox One. Start a game, movie, or TV show on one console and finish exactly where you left off on another.”
We’ve repeatedly contacted Microsoft and asked its executives to clarify if this means Xbox One needs a connection to start single-player games.
“We cannot go into these specifics as we haven’t made any announcements about that yet,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me.
Immediately following the Xbox One event, Spike TV’s Geoff Keighley asked Microsoft’s Xbox president Don Mattrick if the system requires an “always-on” connection for single-player games.
“No, you don’t always have to be connected,” Mattrick told Keighley. “But for a lot of things, like multiplayer gaming and for streaming content from the Internet, you’re going to need an Internet connection. That’s the world we live in.”
Keighley accepted this answer saying: “So gamers can calm down?”
“Gamers can calm down,” said Mattrick. “We got you covered.”
Only Mattrick was very careful in his wording. He emphasized “always” in his response, which suggests an Internet connection is necessary to run a single-player game, but the game will still work if that connection is lost temporarily.
Kotaku seemed to confirm that today when reporting that Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison said that Xbox One requires players to connect once every 24 hours in order to function.
We asked Microsoft about that, and again, the company told us that its hasn’t announced any specifics, so we don’t know if that is true or what would happen after that 24-hour period.
And that’s the problem. Microsoft isn’t telling us anything. It thinks it can control the message about its exciting new box, but it’s left us worried and confused.
Finally, we asked Microsoft about the 30 percent of Xbox 360 owners who haven’t connected their devices to the Internet, according to a study by industry tracking firm IDC.
“The vast majority of our Xbox 360 owners have Internet in their homes, and we’ve built this platform to take advantage of the tremendous benefits of a connected device,” a spokesperson told us.
Or — in the words of a former Xbox employee — deal with it.