The Head of Xbox points to the PC market as an example of how multiple hardware can exist.
Much has been said about the upcoming generation of consoles that will launch this holiday season. One aspect that’s been discussed somewhat of course is the fact that, as you’d expect, there will be a decent amount of cross generational titles within the first year or two. Microsoft has embraced that more than Sony, with one of their biggest Xbox Series X titles, Halo Infinite, also being on Xbox One. This has lead to some worry that the Xbox Series X ports of games will be “held back.” But it seems as if the Head of Xbox pretty firmly rejects that.
Phil Spencer spoke with GamesIndustry as part of a series highlighting Xbox Game Studios. There he dismissed the idea of the Xbox Series X being held back, even going as far as to say that being “held back” was little more than a meme started by console warriors. He pointed to the PC ecosystem, and how you have various different hardware configuration there, yet developers manage to optimize games for most of them within reason.
“Frankly, held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition,” said Spencer. “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?”
While in this case, Spencer is specifically talking about the Xbox One holding back the Series X, if you want to read between the lines, he could also be talking about the rumored Xbox Lockhart/Series S, a system that is allegedly a less powerful version of the Series X that some people have expressed the same worry about in holding back next gen. Of course, it’s all speculation until we see the systems and how they perform. And obviously, eventually Xbox One development will be slowly phased out and the concern will be mostly moot. Only time will tell.