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Plugged In

Xbox One will require regular connection, not ‘always on’

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(Credit: Microsoft)

Over the past few months, the hottest hot-button issue in gaming concerns always-on internet connections. Requiring users to be online to play offline games isn’t popular among gamers, to put it mildly, particularly after tech issues surrounding this very topic pretty much doomed the anticipated SimCity back in March.

So when rumors began swirling that the next Xbox (now called the Xbox One) would indeed require an always-on connection to function properly, the web went nuts. Would such a seemingly draconian practice really be part of Microsoft’s future?

We finally got some answers today, though they’re still a little confusing.

First, to clear up the most persistent rumor: Microsoft says the Xbox One will not require a constant internet connection. If you want to play a single-player game offline, you'll be able to do so without any troubles, for the most part.

[Related: Xbox One will play used games, but it might cost you]

But here’s where things fly off the rails. In answer to the question, “Does Xbox One require an “always on” Internet connection?” the official Xbox One FAQ gives a perplexing answer:

"No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet."

Ah yes. How helpful.

Here’s the explanation. The Xbox One will require some sort of Internet connection for the bulk of its functionality, such as for cloud components and automatic system updates. And some games -- those that offload processing tasks to the cloud -- will indeed require you to be connected.

“The majority of the usage scenarios actually do require the internet,” Craig Davison, Senior Marketing Director for Xbox Live, told Yahoo! Games. “Playing a multiplayer game, streaming content, having a conversation on Skype -- all of those thing require the internet. That said, we know that everybody every once in a while has an internet outage, so we’re not going to ‘turn off the box’ if suddenly that internet connection is interrupted.”

“If you are playing an offline game, or playing a movie you downloaded, or a Blu-ray, we’re not going to stop those things,” he added.

However, you apparently will have to connect periodically to ensure that the system works correctly. How often? According to statements Microsoft VP Phil Harrison made to Kotaku, once every 24 hours should do it.

Yikes.

Clearly Microsoft has yet to nail down the messaging here. Having to be connected once per day isn’t the same as “always-on,” but that’s still a heckuva lot more often than “whenever I choose” or “never.” And what happens if you don't connect?

Hopefully we’ll get further clarification in the coming days, as this particular issue isn’t likely to go offline any time soon.

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