May 8, 2013 at 8:20 PM ET
Amidst a constant flurry of rumors and controversies about a potential "always-online" requirement for Microsoft's next Xbox console, the company's chief rival in the market for "core" gaming consoles has revealed a surprisingly simple solution.
Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony's Worldwide Studios, told Game Informer Magazine that an always-online requirement didn't even come to mind when Sony was developing its next-generation console, the PlayStation 4.
“Did we consider it? No, we didn’t consider it," Yoshida told Game Informer.
The reason? Many of the same factors that were brought against former Microsoft executive Adam Orth when he told critics of "always-online" to just "deal with it."
"The main reason being that many countries don’t have robust Internet connections," Yoshida said. "It makes sense for people to have Internet connections to play online games, but for offline games there are many countries that we saw do not really have robust Internet.”
Well there you have it. Doesn't that sound simple enough?
Not necessarily. Not having an always-online requirement means that the PlayStation 4 would behave essentially the same way that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 do today — allowing users to access any of their content that's already installed on the device, but requiring a stable Internet connection to download new content or related updates (or play multiplayer games online, for that matter).
Matthew Burns, an independent game developer who has previously worked on titanic game franchises like "Halo" and "Call of Duty," told NBC News that Sony's solution to the online-access question "sounds very reasonable." But he noted that any developer working today would be hard-pressed to make a game that doesn't support a console's online features.
"Social features are extremely important to the makers of the next generation of consoles," Burns said. "Anyone seriously pitching an idea for these new platforms is going to have to think carefully about how it will integrate those features in order to be taken seriously."
"Sony, for example, has talked about the 'Share' button right on the PS4 controller," Burns added. "So if you're looking to make a game for them, they're going to ask, 'how will your game take advantage of the Share button?'"
To its credit, Sony also revealed recently that it would allow game makers to essential "mute" the PS4's "Share" button, telling NBC News that "the spectating of important scenes or items which affect game play can be restricted by developers."
Microsoft, for its part, has remained incredibly tight-lipped about any of the new Xbox until it officially unveils the console later this month. Rumors suggesting one thing or another about the always-online requirement have been running rampant across the Internet in the meantime, though veteran Microsoft watcher (and source of many preliminary reports about the new Xbox) Paul Thurrott has maintained that while the device will include such a requirement, it won't be "as draconian as many seem to believe."
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.