Microsoft confirmed that its Xbox One game console launching this fall will be an always-connected device. That will bring both benefits and drawbacks for users.
Microsoft will not require you to be online all of the time. They can play offline for up to 24 hours, but at that point, you must check into the connected service. Microsoft ran into a lot of objections from consumers over this policy and others that could inconvenience players.
The benefits of being connected include the capability for developers to create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you aren’t playing. The downside is evident in other always-connected games like SimCity and Diablo III, where service was completely shut down during the launch rush and the service quality was poor for some time after launch.
Microsoft said another benefit is that your games and apps will be easy to start again. You won’t have to wait for updates before being able to use your machine. You can stay connected with friends, who can call and interrupt your game or movie if you give them permission to do so.
Players will be able to access their entire games library from Xbox One, with no disc required. You sign in and install a game once, and then a digital copy of your game is stored both on your console and in the cloud. You can buy a game either as a disc product or a downloadable online product.
The machine will have minimum requirements for broadband connections, which could create a problem for people in remote areas. Microsoft recommends a 1.5 megabit per second broadband connection. Both digital subscriber line (DSL) phone lines and cable modems can hit that speed without problems. Wi-Fi networks may have a harder time, but you can also connect via mobile networking if necessary.
Games that require cloud connectivity will require an always-on connection. You can watch TV, a DVD, or Blu-ray movies offline.
Here’s Microsoft’s full statement on the issue.
Xbox One will deliver new benefits for gamers that are only possible with a system designed from the ground up to be ready and connected. Here are just a few examples:
A new generation of games with power from the cloud: Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.
Your Xbox One is always ready: Xbox One is designed to run in a low-powered, connected state. This means your system, games and apps are always current and ready to play—no more waiting for updates.
Stay connected to your friends: Never miss an opportunity to play games with your friends or to catch up with family on Skype. Use Skype in Snap mode to chat while you play games or watch TV. Or enjoy group video Skype calls with people around the world, all from the comfort of your living room.
Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud. So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.
Buy the way you want—disc or digital—on the same day: You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release.
A range of advanced technologies will make these scenarios possible, including:
Superior wireless performance and coverage throughout the home: Xbox One is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n wireless. With 802.11n, Xbox One can use the 5GHz wireless band which eliminates considerable interference from other devices in the home, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices and microwaves. Xbox One uses two wireless antennas, versus one in Xbox 360. This provides dramatically better coverage and sustained performance, which means faster internet speeds in more areas of your home.
Faster connection to a world of smart devices: With Wi-Fi Direct, Xbox One can speak directly to smart wireless devices and connect to them through the cloud. This means your smartphone or tablet will interact with Xbox One seamlessly.
Future proofed with power from the cloud: Microsoft has created a global network of more than 300,000 Xbox Live and Windows Azure servers, to help creators realize their visions of what is possible with a connected system.
To ensure Xbox One works optimally and can offer the experiences described above, it is designed with the following networking requirements:
For an optimal experience, we recommend a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps. (For reference, the average global internet connection speed as measured recently by Akamai was 2.9 Mbps). In areas where an Ethernet connection is not available, you can connect using mobile broadband.
While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection.
With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.
At Xbox, we’ve always believed in a connected world of games and entertainment. With Xbox One, we are planning for a connected future. We can’t wait to show you what’s to come.