Xbox Series X Will Not be Held Back by Xbox One, Says Head of Xbox Phil Spencer - NewsWilliam D'Angelo , posted on 10 July 2020 / 1,557 Views
Microsoft has made the decision to release their upcoming games for the Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC for the first year or two of the next generation console. People have claimed that will hold back Xbox Series X games, however, head of Xbox Phil Spencer in an interview with GamesIndustry says that is not the case.
Spencer mentions third-party games that are developed for multiple consoles and PCs. PCs have a wide range of specs that developers have to work with and even with that the best version of the majority of multiplatform games are on PC.
"Frankly, held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition," Spencer said. "I just look at Windows. It's almost certain if the developer is building a Windows version of their game, then the most powerful and highest fidelity version is the PC version.
"You can even see that with some of our first-party console games going to PC, even from our competitors, that the richest version is the PC version. Yet the PC ecosystem is the most diverse when it comes to hardware, when you think about the CPUs and GPUs from years ago that are there.
"Yes, every developer is going to find a line and say that this is the hardware that I am going to support, but the diversity of hardware choice in PC has not held back the highest fidelity PC games on the market. The highest fidelity PC games rival anything that anybody has ever seen in video games. So this idea that developers don't know how to build games, or game engines, or ecosystems, that work across a set of hardware... there's a proof point in PC that shows that's not the case.
"That said, we're shipping Xbox Series X this year. I'm playing it every day at home, and it is different to playing on an Xbox One X. We should applaud the work that is going on with the SSD, and the work that is going on with audio, to pick some of the areas that Jim [Ryan] and Mark [Cerny] and the stuff that [PlayStation] is focused on.
"We should applaud load times and fidelity of scenes and framerate and input latency, and all of these things that we've focused on with the next generation. But that should not exclude people from being able to play. That's our point. How do we create an ecosystem where if you want to play an Xbox game, we're going to give you a way to go play it?"
Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty added that many of their developers have experience releasing games on PC. The list includes Double Fine, Obsidian, InXile, and now even 343 Industries with releasing Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC.
"So many of our teams are used to shipping on PC," says head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty. "If you look at some of the store comments you get on PC games, some of the more negative feedback is because people are trying to run the game on an old machine that is very underpowered, but they have the expectation that it should run.
"Our teams have a pretty good skillset on architecting things so that it is scalable and putting that into the hands of players. We are so tightly connected to the hardware team and the platform team, that I don't ever worry about taking advantage of the high end. I don't think we'll be in a situation where our teams won't be making the most of what is given to them. In fact, I don't even know how we'd do that [laughs]. Keeping a game team away from new hardware, new features and new things, that is where they're naturally going to gravitate.
"The work will be in making sure we put controls into the hands of the players. So if you're running this game on an Xbox One, is frame rate important to you? Is visual fidelity important to you? Let's give you those options. And I think we are going to see more of that, where we will be able to bring some of our experience of developing for PC to bear."
Double Fine studio head Tim Schafer added, "Before consoles, we did PC, and you end up thinking about your game in a platform agnostic way. You think about the game and what you want it to be, and the game is smart enough to fit onto the destination. If that's current generation or next generation, it'll be a little different and you'd take advantage of both platforms, but in the end the heart of the game is the same.
"If you don't do that... you could say our games are about narrative and comedy, which works on any console. But as we've found out from the PC market, if someone invests a lot of money into their system, they want to see you using it. They want the infinite resolution and stuff like that. You need to think about that kind of stuff."
Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart added that adding in new hardware doesn't change their priorities from the perspective of developing RPGs.
"Of course technology is important to RPGs, but for us it is about characters, story, reactivity and player agency," he says. "I was playing an Apple 1.5-plus -- it wasn't really an Apple 2 because my friend's dad had cobbled it together -- and we were playing Wizardry in like 1980. And here we are 40 years later, and Obsidian is still making RPGs. So what makes an RPG is not the technology.
"Now our job is to put people into worlds, and technology does afford us to make a world more believable... I've been asked before what's the most important thing about future generations? And I'm like 'RAM', the least sexy thing out of all of it. But more RAM means more NPCs, more trees... Your streaming point is out a little farther and all these little things.
"Can we do more with technology? Absolutely. But it still always has to go back to characters, story, reactivity and agency. And that has to be irrespective of technology.
"I think it's super important to those who are going out and getting new consoles, that they feel good about the games that they are buying on them. When we are eventually working on those, we will look at how to balance between the different generations of hardware. But what is super important to me is that it is not a different experience. It's not a case of you get half the quests. The idea is that it has to be that same Obsidian experience no matter what platform it is on."
InXile Entertainment boss Brian Fargo says having access to an SSD and ray-tracing is what excites him the most about the next generation. He adds that as more people upgrade from the Xbox One to Xbox Series X and upgrade their PC there will be more of a focus on more powerful hardware.
"It depends where you are in the process," he said. "With Wasteland 3 for example, it already works on the older machines, so that's no big deal, and we are just going to take advantage of the Series X features. But as you go further out, it depends when your title is coming. 2022? 2024? The answers might change depending on that formulae. For us, it is just keeping that in mind. We have always had to think about other formats, so this is not a new calculus for us."
Phil Spencer added that the player is at the center of their strategy and not the hardware. That is why they are releasing their games on on the Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC.
"As a player you are the centre of our strategy," Spencer said. "Our device is not the centre of our strategy, our game is not the centre of the strategy. We want to enable you to play the games you want to play, with the friends you want to play with, on any device. On TV, the Xbox console is going to be the best way to play console games. Xbox Series X is the most powerful console out there and it will have absolutely the best versions of our console games. But that's not to exclude other people from being able to play.
"Sorry, I am a bit soapboxy with this one. Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives, and I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games. Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about.
"Gaming is bigger than any one device, and that is something as an industry that we've embraced all up as we bring more and more players in. I think it's vital to the role that gaming can play on the planet."
Microsoft will be launching their next generation console, the Xbox Series X, in Holiday 2020.
A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at email@example.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.