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Xbox 720 to be always-online?

Xbox 720 to be always-online?

The Xbox 720 (Durango) may require a connection to the internet to be used.

It is again being suggested Microsoft's upcoming new console, the so-called Xbox 720, may require a constant internet connection in order to play games. This follows official online documentation about the device being leaked online.

Screenshots of the documentation for the software development kit (xdk), used by game developers to understand how to write games for the console, shows it saying the console "will always maintain a network connection."

Further to this it uses lines such as “With this, Always On, Always Connected,” design”, leaving little doubt that Microsoft is more than a little keen for users to be in constant contact with the outside world.

However, the document doesn't explicitly say whether or not the Durango (the codename for what's expected to be called the Xbox 720) will actually be unusable without some sort of connection. Indeed lines such as "users will quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates," suggest the requirement may simply be there for the convenience of keeping the console prepared for action.

The news follows the disastrous launch of the city-building game, SimCity, which requires an always-on internet connection to be played. At launch, and for some days afterwards, its publisher's servers were completely overloaded, leaving users unable to play their brand new game, even in single player mode. With this stark sign of the potential pitfalls of the always-online approach, many potential customers will be wary of Microsoft also taking the Xbox 720 down this path.

Xbox 720 to be always-online? Xbox 720 to be always online?


What cannot be doubted at this stage is the wording used to describe the requirement for the second generation version of Kinect to be constantly attached. The webcam-like tracking device can be used to control the console using gestures, suggesting perhaps that users will be expected to activate the device by speaking or waving to the machine, rather than picking up a controller.

Likewise the documentation explicitly describes how games "will be installed on the hard drive", and that, "Play from optical disc will not be supported."

The Xbox 720 release date is expected to be in the latter part of this year with an initial unveiling at E3 in June. As well as a new, always connected version of Kinect, the new console is also strongly rumoured to use an AMD APU, alongside the recently announced PlayStation 4 and Wii U.

Would an always-connected requirement be the death knell for the Xbox 720 or do you like the idea of everything being always up to date?

Below is the full text, as best we can make out, taken from the screenshot:

The Durango console is designed to offer game developers modern hardware that is more powerful than the Xbox 360. It uses a familiar x64 architecture and tools, and compared with Xbox 360 development time and effort spent on performance optimisation. Hardware accelerators, including ‘move engines’ for common tasks, will be added to the console. Move engines can perform common game tasks like compression and decompression while moving data around the system. The console also has dedicated hardware support form common audio processing tasks that reduce the amount of CPU time that must be devoted to audio. The GPU provides considerable computing power, and supports Direct3D 11.

Durango will implement different power states so that it can always be powered on, but will draw minimal electricity when not in use. The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current. With this ‘Always On, Always Connected’ design, users will quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates.

Every Durango console will be sold with a new high-fidelity Kinect Sensor, which will be required for the system to operate. The console will provide HD videos, and will use new depth sensor technology to provide better screen resolution and less noisy depth data. Active infrared illumination will provide high-quality monochrome images even in low ambient light conditions. A wider field of view allows play in smaller spaces and removes the need for a tilt motor.

System software will offer a full set of system API for Natural User Interface (NUI), and the API set will be corresponding API used by Xbox 360. Skeleton tracking, identity, and other NUI functions will be performed by the system and for that reason, titles no longer need to allocate title resources to NUI.

The Durango controller will make the best-in-class Xbox 360 controller even better. It will have low-latency wireless connectivity to the console, and improve ergonomics. System interactions that use the controller will be simplified to make them easier for noncore gamers.

Every Durango console will have a hard drive, although its exact capacity has not been chosen. It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games. All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from optical disc will not be supported.

Durango consoles will have Blu-ray disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay, games will not use content from optical disc. An installation system is being designed that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete.

Audio from Durango will be all digital – 7.1 discrete PCM output through HDMIU and S/PDIF. Hardware accelerators will be included for decoding and decompressing common audio formats. There also will be a dedicated processor to perform common signal processing in hardware.

31 Comments

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Mankz 20th March 2013, 16:19 Quote
I imagine, like the article says, always online means it will download updates/patches in the background when it can, rather than require an internet connection to let you use anything.

It'll need a connection to authorise a game, and to patch etc, but I think that'd be it.
steveo_mcg 20th March 2013, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
"will always maintain a network connection."

My PC will always maintain a network connection, whether it can use that connection to get to the internet is a different story.
damien c 20th March 2013, 16:30 Quote
Seen allot of consoles gamers saying that if this is true it's the death nail for the console.

Makes me laugh, because PC's have a constant online connection and 99% of games now require you to be signed in to some form of system such as Steam or Origin in order to play them.
dr-strangelove 20th March 2013, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Article
Durango (the codename for what's expected to be called the Xbox 720)

Is there any evidence that it will be called the Xbox 720 or is that just what we've taken to calling it?
Tyrmot 20th March 2013, 16:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mankz
I imagine, like the article says, always online means it will download updates/patches in the background when it can, rather than require an internet connection to let you use anything.

It'll need a connection to authorise a game, and to patch etc, but I think that'd be it.

+1 - this is how it reads to me as well - it enters a low power state rather than turning off, and is connected to download patches/updates etc when you are e.g. asleep, so that you can turn it on and game straight away.

Can't see anything about game validation - think you might be reading bit too much into this particular source..
Hamfunk 20th March 2013, 16:48 Quote
If all games are going to be installed on the HDD surely these things will have to ship with a pretty hefty HDD, sounds like it's becoming more and more like a PC! :D
jrs77 20th March 2013, 16:49 Quote
The only games that should require an online-connection for playing it are multiplayer-modes and MMOs imho.

BL2 was the only game I've bought so far that required a service like Steam, but after plaing it for three month I've deinstalled it together with Steam. This was the first and last time I've played such a restricted game, as I couldn't play the damn game, when my network was down due to environmental influences (-40°C killed my line for a few days).

The game-industry is digging their own grave, just because they think that they're selling more copies when they cut down the illegal copies.
JFTI. People who illegally copy games usually don't have any money to buy the games in the first place most of the time.

When I buy a game, especially games with single-player-mode, I want to be able to play it, even if I don't have an internet-connection to start with.
GeorgeStorm 20th March 2013, 16:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by damien c
Seen allot of consoles gamers saying that if this is true it's the death nail for the console.

Makes me laugh, because PC's have a constant online connection and 99% of games now require you to be signed in to some form of system such as Steam or Origin in order to play them.

Not the same, I can lose connection to steam whilst playing games with no issue, but some games with an always on style DRM means I can't. (Heroes 6 is a good example, kept getting kicked from my single player game because my internet is iffy at home) :(

It's also the principle, I hope it's as Mankz suggests and you don't actually need to be online to play.
Also not a fan of it always being on, so hopefully that's not needed (although then again I'm very unlikely to be buying this console, but it sets a bad example in my opinion)
Ryun 20th March 2013, 17:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from optical disc will not be supported.

I'm surprised you guys didn't make this the title of the article. Maybe I've just been in the dark, but this is huge for the xbox console.
Ayrto 20th March 2013, 17:07 Quote
As mentioned already, it'll probably be for activation only as with PC. Not allowing any offline play at all would be stupid. And you'd expect only so many activations per game, again, as with some PC games. Both MS and Sony have been pretty coy about second hand games . Technically multiple activations(possibly higher than with PC) won't stop used game sales, but in practice it does, and it certainly ends rental.

More troubling is the fact that the Durango machine needs Kinect switched on to work according to the documents . MS has patented Kinect DRM tech, that detects number of users quote: "the users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken." - as a summary of the patent says.
Harlequin 20th March 2013, 17:14 Quote
it`ll want an allways on connection for random authentication.

its what will happen ; games with 1/2 the content server side.
Tyrmot 20th March 2013, 17:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryun
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from optical disc will not be supported.

I'm surprised you guys didn't make this the title of the article. Maybe I've just been in the dark, but this is huge for the xbox console.

Agreed! This is the first I have heard of this?? Surely this is the actual news here!
rollo 20th March 2013, 17:43 Quote
If all games are installed on hard disks that would effectively end second hand games sales, as you would have nothing to sell. You can hardly take a USB stick into game for second hand trade can you.

Sounds alot like steam and origin.

Don't see the issue.
erratum1 20th March 2013, 17:47 Quote
It sounds like it can sit in a low power state and still download updates/patches so when you turn it on (full power state) it's ready to go.
true_gamer 20th March 2013, 17:51 Quote
I really can't wait till these consoles are finally released. It's been so long! I'm not bothered if it needs to be connected continuously, as my internet has always been reliable, and fast.

Everything Media gets connected to the internet these days, and will all use a cloud system to keep everything in sync. So hurry up already! Life is short and I want Photorealism graphics before I die! :D
Tynecider 20th March 2013, 21:01 Quote
SpyBox 720 more like it.

Remember this....

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/139706-microsofts-new-kinect-patent-goes-big-brother-will-spy-on-you-for-the-mpaa

Not rocket science to see where this is (more than likely) going.
SexyHyde 21st March 2013, 03:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tynecider
SpyBox 720 more like it.

Remember this....

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/139706-microsofts-new-kinect-patent-goes-big-brother-will-spy-on-you-for-the-mpaa

Not rocket science to see where this is (more than likely) going.

They can't spy what they can't see!
Waynio 21st March 2013, 07:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tynecider
SpyBox 720 more like it.

Remember this....

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/139706-microsofts-new-kinect-patent-goes-big-brother-will-spy-on-you-for-the-mpaa

Not rocket science to see where this is (more than likely) going.

I'd just stick chewing gum in it's eye or eyes so it can't see you & if it has ears do the same for those lol.

If that disables console from working demand full refund.
Corky42 21st March 2013, 08:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by true_gamer
I really can't wait till these consoles are finally released. It's been so long! I'm not bothered if it needs to be connected continuously, as my internet has always been reliable, and fast.

And when its not ? my guess is if you do ever have problems with your connection you will be cursing the always on connection because you cant play the game you want to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by true_gamer
Everything Media gets connected to the internet these days, and will all use a cloud system to keep everything in sync. So hurry up already! Life is short and I want Photorealism graphics before I die! :D

The only cloud i use is where i have control over my data (my home) and if you want Photorealism graphics you will have a long wait with console's, my guess is we are going to be stuck with these consoles for almost 10 years.

And with NVidia saying we will have Volta in 2016, i predict we will be in the same situation we are in now. I.E Three year old consoles crippling what can be done on a modern PC.
BLC 21st March 2013, 08:57 Quote
Couldn't really care less about the next Xbox to be honest, but... Isn't that photo the mockup/concept of the *original* Xbox? :p
Xir 21st March 2013, 10:21 Quote
Hmmm, when I use my console (okay, it's a WII, but it's a console) 2/3 of the time I've got no internet connection available. (On the move, at friends houses, in Hotels, Campervan)
The other third I've got it available, but it's not connected to the console.

To me, at least, it would therefore be a no-go criteria. (Unless they come up with a Worldwide free wireless scheme) :D
ModSquid 21st March 2013, 10:50 Quote
Not sure if I'm mis-reading this, but doesn't the " non-optical" stipulation merely demand you install games to the HDD from the disc you have bought? I assume this is something to do with user experience (ie. faster load times, ability to scan HDD for games owned and therefore patchable etc.) rather than anything else. At least, I hope so. If this is the case, then the second-hand market shouldn't be affected, unless developers start using one-time only activation keys that subsequent owners will need to re-purchase, like BF3. Which is shady, in my opinion. £40 a game isn't enough?

Of more concern to me is the Big Brother Kinect issue...
Ripitup121 21st March 2013, 14:15 Quote
The whole activation thing and always online thing will probably pay a part in stopping/restricting pre ownded games sales too i'm thinking. Is it just me or is the red tape around gaming/ piracy/console/hardware lockdown becoming a bit too ridiculous....
mal 21st March 2013, 16:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ModSquid

Of more concern to me is the Big Brother Kinect issue...

Plus, Forcing "Always On" FORCES XBOX LIVE MEMBERSHIP.

I rarely play multiplayer. I have no GOLD membership. Its MY choice. Take away my choices, I take my money elsewhere.
BLC 21st March 2013, 17:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mal
Plus, Forcing "Always On" FORCES XBOX LIVE MEMBERSHIP.

I rarely play multiplayer. I have no GOLD membership. Its MY choice. Take away my choices, I take my money elsewhere.

Xbox Live Silver...?

Admittedly I take your point about not having a choice in the matter, but not even having a Silver profile makes even the current Xbox quite limited - you get almost nothing beyond just playing the game, IIRC.

EDIT: Well OK, "quite limited" is probably the wrong way to characterise it, but you'd still miss out on a lot.
Xir 22nd March 2013, 08:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
you get almost nothing beyond just playing the game, IIRC.
Which is what it's there for in the first place, isn't it? ;)
Griffter 22nd March 2013, 09:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrmot
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryun
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from optical disc will not be supported.

I'm surprised you guys didn't make this the title of the article. Maybe I've just been in the dark, but this is huge for the xbox console.

Agreed! This is the first I have heard of this?? Surely this is the actual news here!

have to be since the new xbox has blue-ray discs and the read speed on these hight volume discs are wayyy to slow to play on the fly. ps3 has to install games all this time becos of it so no real surprise for me and i guess others that had that blue-ray/slow read info... but i can see how it can be big news for others.
Harlequin 22nd March 2013, 11:09 Quote
*sigh*

the sustained transfer rate of the BD drive in the PS4 (and likely the next xbox) will be 6x BD - that's sustained 27 MB/s (that's 216mbit/s)

which is faster than all IDE HDD`s.

so carry on spouting that blu ray isn't good enough.
Corky42 22nd March 2013, 13:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
*sigh*

the sustained transfer rate of the BD drive in the PS4 (and likely the next xbox) will be 6x BD - that's sustained 27 MB/s (that's 216mbit/s)

which is faster than all IDE HDD`s.

so carry on spouting that blu ray isn't good enough.

Not sure where you get your numbers for HDD transfer speed from but going on storagereview.com benchmark even the worst HDD manages 35.3 MB/s and the best is 135.0 MB/s
BLC 22nd March 2013, 13:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Which is what it's there for in the first place, isn't it? ;)

Well yes, if you want to be pedantic! ;)
Hrodwulf666 24th March 2013, 14:13 Quote
I imagine that this no play from disc feature prevents backward compatibility between the new console and the 360. If this is the case then its the final straw for me. After 4 360's, numerous hardware replacements (controllers, batteries, chargers etc) and a hell of a lot of patience with their backwards ass mentality I wont give MS any more money if they take my sizable investment and throw it away before my very eyes. My current 360 is on the verge of death as it is, yet have around 80 games on my shelf destined for landfill if this new console wont support them. The insult could not be more comprehensive.

Plus, a few years ago I lost my job and was unemployed for a few months, I couldn't afford the upkeep for my internet connection, if that happens again, with this new system no job = no play.

Never mind the complete debacle with almost every other area they choose to have a half arsed crack at (Games for windows anyone?).
I'm not going to wait for any more revelations regarding Microsoft's misguided decisions for their next living room fascist box, I've decided right now, I'm done with them. I might consider a PS4, however I'm now questioning the validity of owning a console at all, what with the rising expense and also the decreasing life span of content and compatibility.
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