The next Xbox console will not require a constant Internet connection, it now appears.
Microsoft is out controlling its media cycle, at last it seems. Ars Technica’s Peter Bright has published information on the next Xbox console that he claims is cribbed from an internal memo. I believe him. One method to leak information to the media to drive a news wave to your credit is to send out an internal note that you are either sure will be leaked, or that you intend to leak yourself.
Among the tools available to companies to help craft a message, it’s a good one. Here’s what Microsoft is saying inside of its own walls:
Durango [the NextBox] 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.
A Microsoft spokesperson addressed Ars Technica’s article by saying: “We’re excited to share more about the new generation of games, TV and entertainment on May 21, but have nothing further to share at this time.”
The timing of this news isn’t accidental. Microsoft has several media events planned for the Xbox, including one this month and another in June. It can’t have a media cloud over its operations if it wants to generate the kind of coverage that it covets.
Column inches will be spent regardless, and Microsoft wants all of them singing its praise, not retracing old steps about issues that might irk part of its core constituency.
The issue of ‘always-on’ Internet connections being a requirement in the next Xbox came to the fore when a – now-ex – Microsoft employee took to Twitter blasting the idea’s opponents as Luddish. It caused a firestorm, as gamers protested that Internet connections go out, from time to time. In short, requiring an Internet connection is a form of DRM, allowing companies to ensure that a game being played is legitimate.
Not that piracy is too large an issue on consoles, naturally.
Expect the Xbox to be a key media narrative in the next two months.
Top Image Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images