The Xbox Series S has posed an interesting dilemma to many in this current console generation. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s got undeniable value, serving as a cheaper, entry-level option for those looking to jump into the new generation of gaming hardware. At the same time, however, due to its weaker hardware compared to the Xbox Series X and PS5, there’s no shortage of developers who’ve spoken about the limitations it poses, and whether or not it might restrict and hold back game development going forward.
A studio that very much seems to fall in that camp is TeamKill Media, the developer of upcoming cosmic horror shooter Quantum Error. In a recent interview with GamingBolt, when asked if he feels the Xbox Series S will be able to hold up its promise as a 1440p/60 FPS console as the generation progresses and developers start making more graphically intensive games, studio owners and co-founder Micah Jones said that to achieve that, you’d have to specifically build a game around the Xbox Series S’ lesser hardware, thus sacrificing technical and visual leaps made possible by the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
“No, I think you have to build your game specifically to run on the S to get those specs with techniques that are used on lesser hardware,” Jones said. “If we can get the Quantum Error Series S port optimized and acceptable graphically above our current tests, it will be 30 fps. We have all played some phenomenal games at 30 fps. But in this current generation if the graphics look blurry and smudgy, it greatly lessens the experience in our view.
“We use Real Illusions Character Creator for our character creation, and it has already advanced beyond what we used. We started on Unreal 4 and we finished the game on Unreal Engine 5.2 but now Unreal Engine 5.3 is coming out soon. The software advances will always outpace the hardware. For us personally, we come at game development as artists, photographers, cinematographers, writers, musicians, and partial computer nerds.
“For me, the graphics are insanely important, and my artistic style always leans to the darker side and light usage in dark spaces is the biggest component that excites me. I want to stretch the tech as far as I possibly can. I could have easily made a game with lush landscapes and reflective water with amazing bright happy skies, but what happens when you just take metal, glass, metal, glass, metal, more metal and a little more metal and you use Global Illumination in dark spaces. The way the light scatters naturally and goes in between spaces, the bounce light gets us really excited and once you see it, you just can’t go back to using old lighting techniques.
“So for us and our studio, we aren’t going to build games for lower tech specs. This is part of why I have been a giggling little kid over what I am being able to do with QE using Nvidia tech for PC. But then Noah (Jones, co-founder) is hardcore about performance so we balance each other. Our PC version minimum specs will not go below the PS5 specs and will push the 4090 as hard as we can.”
Speaking specifically about the Xbox Series S version of Quantum Error, Jones said, the current state of the game on Microsoft’s lower-spec console is “unacceptable”, and that TeamKill Media “won’t release it in its current state.”
When asked if that means the studio is unsure the game can work on the Xbox Series S, he added: “We are not 100% sure yet, the Series S so far works but it runs really poorly, frame rate is very low, and resolution is extremely blurry. We will continue to work to see if we can improve things, but the current state of the game on the Series S is unacceptable.”
Earlier this year, TeamKill Media said that with Quantum Error having been designed around the PS5’s SSD, a simultaneous multiplatform release wasn’t possible, due to the Xbox Series X/S’ “slower” SSD.
The Xbox Series S has, of course, remained a point of content for several developers since the outset of the current console generation. Microsoft has insisted that the console won’t hold developers back, and recently, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that the company has no intention of dropping support for it. From Dying Light developer Techland to Trine developer Frozenbyte, however, a number of studios has pointed out the hardware’s deficiencies.
Baldur’s Gate 3 has also obviously been responsible for the recent renewed interest in the Xbox Series S conversation, with developer Larian Studios having been unable to release an Xbox version of the RPG alongside its PS5 counterpart due to being unable to get splitscreen co-op running on the weaker hardware of the Series S. The studio did, however, recently announce that Baldur’s Gate 3 will launch for Xbox Series X/S this year (probably sometime between September and November). Though the Series S version won’t feature splitscreen co-op at launch, Larian and Microsoft will continue to work on potentially adding it in following release.
Quantum Error is set to launch for PS5 on November 3. Release dates haven’t yet been announced for the in-development PC and Xbox Series X/S ports. Our full interview with its developers will be live soon, so stay tuned.