OPINION: What's the point of the Xbox Series X's power?

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook

The Xbox Series X will be the most powerful gaming console ever released. Xbox's next-gen console boasts some incredible specs that will put many £2000 gaming PC's to shame, and this power has been a huge part of the console's marketing.

"We like leading in power and performance," admitted Xbox's Phil Spencer. According to Spencer, the Xbox Series X has "over eight times the GPU power of the Xbox One, and two times what an Xbox One X is."

Advertisement

READ MORE: Opinion: Xbox NEEDS to announce the Xbox Series S as soon as possible

These comparisons certainly highlight the strength of the Series X but, with forward compatibility forcing developers to ensure their games can run on the Xbox One as well, is the console held back by its predecessor?

Phil Spencer addresses cross-gen problem 'meme'

For Phil Spencer, the Xbox One will not hold back the Series X's games at all.

Spencer compared the Xbox family to that of PC gaming, where games can be played across a wide range of setups.

"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."

However, as much of Spencer's contention in the GamesIndustry.biz interview focused on the issue of graphical fidelity, loading times, and FPS, there is an unspoken problem not yet addressed by Xbox- game design.

READ MORE: Xbox Series X news today: specs, features, price, release date, backwards compatibility, games reveal, live stream, and more info about Xbox 2020

The limitations of the Xbox One

Much like the Series X, the Xbox One was an impressive console when it launched in 2013 but now, in 2020, it is starting to feel outdated.

Next-gen consoles no longer rely on HDD storage, using SSDs instead to dramatically improve performance.

While graphics, FPS and loading times can certainly be scaled down depending on the console (look at the Nintendo Switch's ports, for example), studios will need to take these considerations on board during development, limiting much of their ideas to a current-gen mentality.

Take physics, for example. You cannot scale back a title's in-game physics engine; it either runs, or it won't. If a base Xbox One cannot maintain a stable 30 FPS in 1080p with detailed physics mechanics then, based on Xbox's current policy, the game won't release, or at least not until Xbox drops the Xbox One.

HaloInfinite 2
Are you impressed by Halo Infinite's graphics?
Advertisement

This extends further than just physics, though. Level design, gameplay and AI will all be limited by the Xbox One.

It's not just game design lost by forwards compatibility. Devs will now have to optimise their games for three different Xbox consoles- the Xbox One, Xbox One X and Xbox Series X- as well as any other platforms they release their games on.

In an industry already plagued by crunching, this will either put an immense strain on already-overworked developers, increase the cost of development, or force developers to cut out potentially amazing mechanics or levels just to keep on schedule.

However, all is not lost for the Series X.

READ MORE: OPINION: Is the Xbox Series X free upgrade mantra a BAD precedent for devs?

Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond

In an interview with MVC, Matt Booty, the Head of Xbox Game Studios, confirmed that "As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices."

When Xbox One support gradually fizzles out, we might finally see the true power of the Xbox Series X. With a clear lack of release dates for many games during the Xbox Games Showcase, including Fable, S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 and Avowed, Xbox studios may already be eyeing up an Xbox Series X-only launch in a couple of years.

The hope for Xbox is that the PS5 doesn't blow the Series X out of the water in that period with its next-gen exclusives.

READ MORE: Xbox Series S news: rumours, reveal date, specs, price predictions, release date and Reddit image for Project Lockhart, the cheap alternative to Xbox Series X