While rumors go back and forth over whether or not Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox will require an always-online connection, Sony has already drawn their line in the sand. Specifically, they have unveiled a console that has plenty of online features, but does not need any form of Internet for gameplay.
It came as somewhat of a surprise when Sony confirmed an Internet connection was not required, as previous rumors suggested they were considering it. But, as it turns out, those rumors were false.
As Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida tells GameSpot, the publisher and console maker never even considered an always-online connection for the PS4. And their reasoning for doing so is not unlike the complaints waged against any always-online system or game: Internet isn’t as readily available as a lot of people like to believe.
“Did we consider it? No, we didn’t consider it. The main reason being that many countries don’t have robust Internet connections. It makes sense for people to have Internet connections to play online games, but for offline games there are many countries that we saw [that] do not really have robust Internet.”
Yes, a lot of people in the US, Europe, or Canada have access to fast and reliable Internet (if you’re reading this, you have access to some form of Internet), but there are parts of those countries where Internet isn’t quite as ubiquitous. Moreover, there are whole countries where Internet service is looked at as a luxury not an essential utility.
If a gamer wants to take advantage of the PS4’s social features they will need access to robust Internet, but those features are ancillary. The ability to share and capture gameplay, for example, is a unique console feature, but it’s definitely not essential. If someone wants to make their way through the Killzone: Shadow Fall campaign sans online connection, though, they can do so.
At the moment (in other words, based on current rumors), it appears a similar offline experience will be possible with the next Xbox, but we won’t know for sure until Microsoft’s event on May 21st. Much like with the PS4, there has been an ebb and flow to the rumors, but for now it seems like always-online is not in either Sony or Microsoft’s immediate futures.
Are you surprised to hear Sony never even considered an always-online console? Do you think they have, in a way, dictated what features the next Xbox should and shouldn’t have?