The idea of requiring an Internet connection for single-player gaming has been controversial for Microsoft in the past. So it's a bit surprising that Microsoft will require players to have a high-speed Internet connection to enjoy the cut scenes in the story-heavy Quantum Break when it launches on Windows 10 next month (the Xbox One version will also be available as a full download ahead of time for those who don't want to stream).
At least there's a technical excuse for the requirement this time beyond some sort of privacy-limiting security check. As narrative designer Greg Louden told Game Informer at a recent event, the variety of branching, live-action "episodes" played after each act of the game are too large to fit on a disc or work as a hard drive download:
We have 40 different variations of the show in total where basically your choices get to make it evolve and change whether it’s from a junction choice or we have these things called "Quantum Ripples" which essentially unlocked sort of deleted scenes from the show. Then combined with that, the show length can change based on your decisions because some episodes are longer as a result and some episodes are shorter. It basically evolves and that’s why we needed to stream it... When we figured out how big the data was, we had to backpedal and think of some good solutions, and this made sense.
While Louden wouldn't go into detail on the exact size of the video files in question, the PC version of the game was shot and will stream in 4K, which can eat up hard drive space incredibly quickly as a download (the Xbox One version will be limited to 1080p video files). Most PC gamers in the West are connected to the Internet 24/7 these days anyway, so this won't be a material issue for most of the game's target audience.