The latest set of information regarding the always-on nature of the next Xbox comes from Kotaku. "Unless something has changed recently. Durango consumer units must have an active internet connection to be used," two sources told Kotaku, "If there isn't a connection, no games or apps can be started. If the connection is interrupted then after a period of time - currently three minutes, if I remember correctly - the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started."
We've been hearing rumblings to this effect for a while now. If this is indeed true, the next Xbox would be the first console ever to mandate such anti-consumer functionality. The Playstation 4 will not require always-on functionality, nor does Nintendo's latest. We've of course seen the disasters caused by always-on, such as the latest Simcity and Diablo III.
As if persistent rumours about this kind of nonsense weren't bad enough, Microsoft's Adam Orth took to Twitter to defend the always-on requirement. Sadly, he did so in the most ungraceful of ways. He compared it to a vacuum cleaner not working when the power goes out, or a mobile phone having bad reception in some areas, rounding it off with "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console. Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in." He added that everyone should just "deal with it".
Bioware game designer Manveer replied by stating that while something like that is an easy thing to say if you've lived in big cities all your life, it's a lot harder if you live in places like "Janesville, WI or Blacksburg, VA". Orth's response was "why on earth would I live there?" While it's very likely the two were just joking around, the fact of the matter is that Orth works at Microsoft, and as such, should know better. This is what direct messages are for. Orth's Twitter account was set to private shortly after his tweets hit major sites - and became the top item on the frontpage of Reddit.
In any case, while this isn't an official word on the matter, I do think it's safe to assume by now that the next Xbox will require you to be always online in order to play "your" games. Apparently, Microsoft has its head so far up its own butt it completely missed Diablo III's troubles and the total and utter disaster that is Simcity.
I hope Orth's attitude is not prevalent throughout Microsoft, because even though I have the fastest-possible consumer internet with virtually no downtime in a country with some of the highest broadband penetration figures in the world, I still experience regular Xbox Live downtimes and random Xbox Live disconnects, and I know I'm not alone. The idea that I could not play games while Xbox Live is busy shitting all over itself again is a complete and utter showstopper.
One good thing has come of this: my choice for a next-generation console just got a lot simpler. Hurry up, Valve.