May 07, 2013, 8:30 AM —
In gaming news we've got something for fans of each of 'the Big 3' console players today: Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
It seems as though Microsoft Xbox fans can finally rest easy. Ars Technica got hold of an internal email memo about the Xbox 720 that addresses the question of Internet connectivity. There've been consistent rumors that said the next Xbox (aka Durango) would require an always-on Internet connection.
This memo kills that rumor once and for all, saying:
"Durango 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."
Still up in the air is the question of whether or not an Internet connect is ever required. Another persistent rumor is that Microsoft would somehow limit the sale of used games by having every game be registered to a specific Xbox Live account via the Internet.
I still think that's unlikely and my expectation is that Durango will work just like the Xbox 360; you'll probably want to take it online to get patches and additional content, but if you're living somewhere off the grid you'll still be able to enjoy single player games without the console ever being hooked up to the Internet.
Ars points out that the assertion that you'll be able to continue to enjoy "live TV" while the Xbox is offline pretty much confirms the rumor that the new console will have some kind of HDMI pass-through capability, which is pretty exciting. I'm looking forward to learning more about that on May 21st when the new Xbox is officially introduced.
On to Sony, where the news is potentially less good. We know that the new PS4 controller has a dedicated Share button that's supposed to allow us to easily share gameplay clips and screenshots via social networks.
Well it turns out this might not be a universal feature. Speaking to Japanese language site 4Gamer.net (as translated by Edge), Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida shared the fact that developers can disable the share button to protect portions of a game from being spoiled. His example was that perhaps a developer wouldn't want the final boss battle in a game to be sharable.
Let's hope not many developers use this squelch feature, as I think the concept of a Share button is pretty exciting. We've seen all the creative ways PC gamers use in-game footage (easily captured via any number of 3rd party software applications) but console footage has been much harder to come by. In fact I'm hoping Microsoft will offer the same kind of feature with Durango.
Last for today is the odd news that Nintendo is sending software kits to mobile app developers so that they can port their games to the Wii U, according to Japan Times. The article goes on to say (without a direct quote from anyone at Nintendo, I should add): "Nintendo hopes smartphone software will help spur console sales, which will in turn lead to an increase in popular game titles for them, the sources said."
I find it hard to imagine that being able to play Angry Birds on the Wii U is going to convince anyone to buy Nintendo's struggling new console, but perhaps the marketplace is much different in Japan.
That said, Nintendo did announce its Nintendo Web Framework at this year's GDC, which lets developers with HTML5 experience build apps for the Wii U. When I heard that I assumed they were thinking more along the lines of streaming video and other non-gaming apps, but apparently they expect to see the Web Framework used for games too.
At this point I'd welcome anything that could increase the flow of games to the platform, but mobile games sounds like a nice additional feature rather than a system seller, to me.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.