Update #2: Microsoft has chimed in with an apology for Adam Orth's tweet about the Xbox 720's inability to play games without an internet connection so there is still hope that the consumer console will not make flames shoot from our ears.
Update: Not long after writing this editorial, Microsoft's Creative Director of Video Games, Adam Orth tweets out that the Xbox 720 will need an internet connection in order to play games. I stand corrected. Let's just hope that Microsoft will reconsider this decision and save themselves from the wrath of angry gamers.
The latest gripe in the video games community is that the Xbox 720 (code named Durango) won't allow anyone to play games without an internet connection. I for one, believe this to be pure poppycock. Not that I'm riding Microsoft's analog stick but to do something so ass-backwards is inconceivable and makes absolutely no business sense. And if there's one thing Microsoft is not going to do, it would be to create a product that will not make money. No Zune or Vista jokes guys.
According to the rumor mill, there have been a bunch of development kits sent to people so they could get an idea of what the console is capable of. For those not in the know, these are called debug units. Developers and some members of the media get them to test out games before they hit the market. Recently, some of the video games sent out for testing require an internet connection to play. This is how the video game companies are trying to get a handle on piracy. I've come across this myself with a particular blockbuster title I needed to review. You put a disc into the debug unit, punch in a supplied code that unlocks the game. After that's done, you put in the actual video game and the debug unit calls in to a server and reports information like the player's IP address, number of the disc, etc. All this to notify whoever is monitoring this info of who's using the disc and where they're located.
Let's say you try to run the game without a connection. In my case it would just stick at the loading screen and taunt me without any on-screen information about what's going on. It wasn't until I went online that the game would load completely. When the game was finally released, this was no longer the case, It loaded perfectly.
What about PC games though? Blizzard did it with Diablo III right? They did indeed and it sucked but that's a completely different animal. Video games on a PC are a bit easier to copy, distribute and run than a console disc. You don't even need a physical disc to pull that off, just the knowledge, spare time, software and a USB stick. In this case it's understandable why a publisher would go that route, even if it enrages its core fans.
Since Microsoft has neither confirmed or denied the rumor, we still don't know what's exactly going to happen. Perhaps all of this is just marketing magic to get us all talking about the Xbox 720 instead of the PS4. Maybe Xbox is testing us to see what our reaction would be to the implementation of such a draconian feature. No matter the case, shutting off the ability to play a purchased game on a console, given the backlash of the PC's use of it doesn't make sense for a brand new product that Microsoft wants to put in every household. That's not to say they haven't thought of it or that it may not be revisited down the line but hey, stranger things have happened in gaming right?