Next Gen Consoles: Online Required – Reality vs. Expectations


What Do You Mean I Can’t Watch My Blu-Ray Movies…

Back on May 21st, Microsoft announced the Xbox One along with the very unpopular online requirement, which was soon reversed after a dismal E3 conference, and the help of a few half-witted quotes from former Xbox boss, Don Mattrick.

It seemed as if consumers had won the battle against the online mandated machine, but in reality, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo behave as if every consumer already has internet connectivity to actually use the respective machines as advertised. An online-ready requirement may not officially be in effect, but in reality, it’s still expected of us and Sony/MS/Nintendo are just not shouting it from the mountaintops anymore. Let’s face it, none of the next-generation consoles (including the Wii U) are fully functional at their advertised capacity without day-one firmware updates, which in fact, require online access to download, and all three manufactures are guilty of this practice.


Nintendo’s Wii U came with a massive 1 GB day-one update at launch. Without the update, all you could do is build Mii’s and play disc-based games. The update enabled Wii backwards compatibility and other features not available without online access. Microsoft also announced that the Xbox One would require a one-time online check-in, and a day-one update. Microsoft states that the update is estimated to require 15-20 minutes to download, but has not detailed what the update brings. To be fair, Microsoft has been the most transparent with respect to their expectations of online requirements; they got thrashed for it, but it’s not surprising that they would throw out a day-one patch. And just to fit in with the popular kids, Sony, the company that benefited considerably for emphatically stating that the PS4 would not require internet connectivity to function, announced via the PlayStation Blog that the PS4 would require a 300 MB system software update in order to perform basic functions advertised as part of the console experience.

It’s important to note that some of the functionality gained by these updates are for online services, so that isn’t a big deal since it’s assumed that if you’re going to use online services that you have internet. But what’s troubling is that there are key features that are simply not available to those who for whatever reason can’t download the update. Basic features like the ability to play Blu-Ray or DVD movies, the background music player, multi profile log-in, and the face recognition/voice command feature will not be accessible without the day-one update.


The big three are sending the message that their consoles don’t require an online connection to function, and that is simply misleading. If by function, they mean limited use below what’s advertised, then that’s fine, but they do not function as advertised out of the box without downloading an update. The truth is that an internet-required mandate doesn’t poll well with consumers, so instead of saying it like it is and dealing with the backlash, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo simply set the internal expectation that we are, or at least will be, online-ready come launch, and publicly keep their mouths shut. Let’s just hope their servers are ready to handle the launch day congestion.

*The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of SpawnFirst as a whole.