Screengrabs seemingly taken from the Durango Xbox Development Kit describe Microsoft’s upcoming console as an always online device, as has previously been rumoured.
Posted on VGLeaks, one of the more reliable sources of next-gen information in the run up to the PS4 reveal last month, the documentation has been described as “entirely legitimate” by an Edge source, although it was said to have been provided to developers working with the console last year.
The "hardware overview" documentation states: “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 games.
“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 the optical disc will not be supported.
“Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay, games will not use content from the 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.
“Every Durango console will be sold with a new high-fidelity Kinect sensor, which will be required for the system to operate," it also says, latter adding: "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 improved ergonomics. System interactions that use the controller will be simplified to make them easier for noncore gamers."
Last month, Edge reported that games designed for the next Xbox “will require an internet connection in order to function”, and that all disc-based titles will include online activation codes with no value beyond their initial use, effectively eliminating the ability to play used games on the system.
It has been heavily rumoured that Microsoft will announce its next Xbox in late April.
The Next Xbox Will Require an Internet Connection To Start Games, Sources Say
"If there isn't a connection, no games or apps can be started," the source continued. "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."
Microsoft Creative Director on Always Online: 'Deal With It'
In the wake of new purported details about the next Xbox's always-online requirement, Microsoft Studios' creative director has spoken out on Twitter about negative reactions to the prospect.
Adam Orth's tweets are now protected, but a poster on NeoGAF saved them for posterity:
Orth also got into a minor spat with BioWare employee Manheer Heir. "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always-on' console," he said. "Every device is now 'always-on'. #dealwithit"
Orth has been with Microsoft for just over a year, working on an unannounced project (which can be safely assumed to be a Nextbox title). Previously he has been Creative Lead/Creative Director at LucasArts and a Senior Designer at PopCap.
Naturally this is Orth's personal opinion and shouldn't be taken as proof that the next Xbox definitely has an always-online requirement, but the evidence is mounting. IGN's Xbox 720 wiki has everything that's currently known about the next Microsoft console.
Update: Xbox Live's Major Nelson has posted the following official Microsoft statement regarding Orth's comments:
"We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."
Adam Orth, the Microsoft Studios creative director who caused a stir among consumers last week by tweeting his opinions on "always-on" devices, is no longer a Microsoft employee, according to "two sources" speaking with Polygon.
Last week, Microsoft publicly apologized for Orth's comments, saying that "this person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers."
We have reached out to Microsoft for a statement on the situation and will update this story if we learn more.