According to an internal memo at Microsoft obtained by Ars Technica, the next-gen Xbox will be able to play games even if it isn't connected to the Internet. This goes against most rumours we've heard so far about the console.

The memo, which was sent to all full-time employees working on the next-gen Xbox, reads: “Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] 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.”

The memo also confirms that the new Xbox can be hooked up to a cable box to let users watch live TV.

A concept art of what the Durango may look like

The memo shows a shift in Microsoft's policies towards always-online DRM

We had heard back in April that the always-online requirement of the Xbox would be optional and would depend on the game's developers or publishers, and this new piece of information adds weight to that.

The console will also have provisions to mandate the console to be always connected to the Internet in case developers want more control over their games. The always-online requirement can also extend to the Xbox’s other features, such as video streaming and other apps.

Some details about Xbox Live and the Achievement system have also been revealed. Developers will be able to add more achievements to their games without having to release DLCs or expansion packs. This will allow them to tweak player behaviour. For example, developers could add achievements for an open-world game that lets players check out some areas they otherwise wouldn’t.

There will also be cross-title achievements: for example, you could get extra points for finishing the first chapters of two completely unrelated games developed by the same company.

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