Microsoft has apologised for an angry tweet sent out by a high-ranking gaming employee, which offered the biggest hint yet that the forthcoming Xbox 720 will require a constant internet connection to play games.

On Friday, Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth lashed out at gamers, critical of the company's reported plans to demand that users are always online when playing the as-yet-unannounced console.

He wrote: "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console. Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in #dealwithit."

It was the dismissive 'deal with it' hashtag that caused a bit of a stir and has forced Microsoft into an apology, affirming that Orth is not a spokesperson for the company.

Inappropriate comments

The apology, posted on the Major Nelson blog, read: "We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."

Tellingly, however, the apology did not do anything to dispel escalating speculation that gamers will indeed need to be constantly online.

Orth's original tweet, which was followed up by one claiming a non-connected console would be like a vacuum cleaner without electricity, was in response to a Kotaku report on Thursday.

One developer told the site: "Unless something has changed recently. Durango (the codename for the new Xbox) consumer units must have an active internet connection to be used.

"If there isn't a connection, no games or apps can be started. If the connection is interrupted then after a period of time - currently three minutes, if I remember correctly -the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started."