We now have a firm answer regarding Xbox One's curious internet needs. Xbox One does not require an "always-on" internet connection to function if you're playing alone, but it does need to "phone home" once a day to check licensing information and keep your games working. A bit like the massive Sky box it is.
The confirmation came from former Sony man Phil Harrison, who spent all of yesterday giving increasingly more detailed interviews to the gaming press about the massive new media machine. Speaking to the likes of Kotaku and Eurogamer after the disappointing TV-themed Xbox One launch event, Harrison explained that the console ought to work just fine offline, as long as it's able to connect to Microsoft's servers at least once every 24 hours to verify accounts, permissions and the like.
So it isn't always online, but, at the same time, it kind of actually needs to be left connected. You can see why Microsoft has struggled to communicate this rather critical message.
Harrison also explained the used game issue a little bit more clearly. Physical discs will be accompanied by a virtual license. You can buy a used game, but you also have to acquire a license to play it. But you won't always be asked to pay for used games twice -- once to acquire the disc, and again to get the Xbox One to run it -- as Harrison says there will be "a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store" to keep the used game market alive.
As for what happens if you try to bend the rules, we don't know what players will see when Xbox One has been unable to connect to Microsoft HQ for more than 24 hours. Hopefully it'll generate a dazzling blue screen full of inexplicable error messages. [Kotaku]