Is the game industry ready for "always-on" consoles?

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Multiple claims that Microsoft's upcoming 720 (Next) console will require an "always-on" Internet connection for games to load have sparked both controversy and dismay in recent weeks.

Nevertheless, Yannis Mallat, the CEO of developer Ubisoft Montreal, went on record as claiming that the gaming industry is now ready for always-on consoles.

"That's a question you should put to Microsoft and Sony. I would say that a lot of people are already always online through other devices – I would suspect that the audience is ready," Mallat told the Guardian.

"As soon as players don't have to worry, then they will only take into account the benefits that those services bring. And I agree, these services need to provide clear benefits. It's important to be able to provide direct connections between us and our consumers, whether that's extra content or online services, a lot of successful games have that."

As TG Daily previously reported, VGLeaks disputed the above-mentioned claims, noting that games can in fact be played without an active Internet connection. Plus, says VGLeaks, pre-owned software will not be blocked.

According to the site, the above-mentioned rumor was sparked by the advent of a second Xbox console that will be launched the same time as Next. Dubbed the Xbox Mini by the site, the second console will purportedly be launched alongside the Xbox 720, and offer backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360, albeit without an optical drive.

In addition, the Xbox Mini - which requires an always-on Internet connection - will run Xbox 360 games downloaded over Xbox Live. The Mini, says VGLeaks, was designed as a TV and could potentially compete with Apple TV.

Now here's the interesting part - the Xbox Mini will apparently link up with the 720 to offer digital backwards compatibility. When connected, both devices will supposedly function on a single display, with navigation enabled via a single controller.

"Putting in an Xbox 360 disc into Durango will prompt the user to attach the supporting device that is sold separately. By separating the two devices and their functions it will ensure price competitiveness for both pieces of hardware," VGLeaks claimed.

Although Redmond has yet to officially confirm console specs, the Xbox 720 Next is widely expected to be powered by an AMD 8-core x64 1.6GHz CPU, a D3D11.x 800MHz graphics platform and 8GB of DDR3 RAM.