There are few certainties in life. These include death, taxes and the reality that your Internet connection will go down from time to time. It has been feared that Microsoft’s next-generation gaming console, codenamed “Durango” but popularly referred to as "Xbox 720," would ship in an “always-online” state. This would render it useless in the event that it lost an Internet connection. Microsoft has reportedly confirmed that this won’t be the case.
An alleged internal memo circulated by Microsoft, which was obtained by Ars Technica, confirms that several of the Xbox 720’s functions will be available for use even when it loses connectivity to the Internet. Here's an excerpt from the memo:
"Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet. 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."
Always-on is a serious issue for gamers for a host of reasons. Players don’t like the fact that they have to be tethered to the Internet to use something that they paid a lot of money for, which is understandable, especially when it comes to $60 games. Players are also dependent on a game’s servers to play the game, so in the event of server downtime, the gamer loses out and is unable to play. The same goes for when a gamer’s router goes on the fritz or their ISP drops the ball and can’t provide service, which is a nearly universal experience, even if it occurs every so often. What’s more, since content isn’t processed on a gamer’s local machine, the player is forced to rely on the game’s servers, hoping that they'll deliver the advertised gaming experience. As we’ve seen with the recent SimCity launch and the Diablo III release, always on games and high server performance don’t always go hand in hand.
While we’d be happy to report that the memo obtained by Ars Technica is accurate, this alleged memo makes statements that are contrary to Microsoft documentation reportedly obtained by VGLeaks in March, which refers to Durango being “Always On, Always Connected.” At this point, until Microsoft makes an official statement or Ars Technica publishes the memo, we’re not sure what to believe considering the mixed information that we’ve seen.
We’re eager to see what other features will be available for use without an Internet connection. In the meantime, what do you think of this news? Are you relieved? What sorts of things do you want to be able to do with the Xbox 720 when it’s not hooked up to an Internet connection? Does Microsoft not go far enough to support the Xbox 720’s offline experience? Sound off in the comments below.