Launching a new generation console at a price of just $299 has been an impressively move by Microsoft, but though it’s likely to boost their sales significantly in the coming years, many have been concerned by the console’s lower specs and the gulf in power between it and the flagship Xbox Series X.
We recently had the chance to conduct an interview with the developers of the Unity Engine, one of the most widely used development engines in the industry, as well as one developer in particular who has been able to use that engine for something truly impressive- Unity Chief Product Officer Brett Bibby and solo developer of Xbox Series X/S launch title The Falconeer Tomas Sala respectively. And both of them feel the Xbox Series S is more than capable to hold its own for the entirety of this console generation.
“It’s important to remember that the majority of people don’t have a screen that does 4K120, so there’s an audience that the S is designed for,” said Bibby. “They perhaps won’t need some of the detail the X can achieve. However, it’s important to remember the S is an extremely capable machine, because those hardware differences are focused on delivering a similar experience at a lower resolution.”
Bibby went on to emphasize that the Xbox Series S has almost all the features that define its more powerful counterpart, from support for ray-tracing to an SSD to a largely similar CPU.
“That is a really smart approach, the device has ray tracing, an SSD, nominally the same CPU as a Series X,” he said. “The only thing it lacks is the power to run at 4K- which simply isn’t always needed, the bedroom TV of some teenage gamer isn’t likely to be a 4K wallhanger beast, so its great for those situations. I would expect the Xbox Series S will be a real differentiator this generation.”
Meanwhile, The Falconeer developer Sala pointed out that thanks to features such as Smart Delivery, the power gap between the Xbox Series S and X is easy for developers to deal with. He went on to add, however, that the generation is going to be more about gameplay innovations than visual leaps, and that on that front, the Xbox Series S’ hardware isn’t lacking.
“With Smart Delivery, the Xbox team has ensured that games can be optimized regardless of which platform you’re playing them on,” Sala said. “This will give creators the opportunity to tailor their releases to both the Series S and Series X without needing to make compromises for either player. I also think it will come down to what the game experience is intended to be. More and more it’s not about photorealistic graphics, it’s about innovative, incredible, fluid, engaging experiences which will outnumber in aggregate the number of purely realistic ones. At the end of the day content is king and the console with the best games will prevail.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Xbox system architect Andrew Goossen spoke about the Xbox Series S’ perceived lack of power as well, saying that the console doesn’t hold back next-gen, but rather advances it. Read more about that through here.
Our full interview with Bibby and Sala will be going live soon, so stay tuned for that.