Xbox Series X Development Chief – There Is No Silver Bullet That Makes Games’ File Sizes Smaller

Microsoft’s Jason Ronald says reducing file sizes is a “challenge” but something they are “working hard on.”

Posted By | On 08th, May. 2020 Under News

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File sizes of games and their patches have become something of a nuisance this console generation, with games often demanding absurd amounts of free storage space, and patches often ending up being larger than many games themselves- the latter is something Call of Duty players are all too familiar with.

As technology grows and Microsoft and Sony both promise more efficient and smarter hardware for their respective next-gen consoles, the hope for many is that this issue in particular is something that will be fixed going forward. Sure enough, Sony have talked about how the PS5’s SSD will greatly reduce patch install times– but what about the Xbox Series X?

Speaking with Eurogamer, Xbox Series X development chief Jason Ronald said that though reducing file sizes is something Microsoft and their partners are working toward constantly, there is no one single quick fix for the issue, and it’s something that requires a lot of things working in conjunction with each other.

“There is no single silver bullet that just makes games inherently smaller,” Ronald said. “But everything from the compression technologies we leverage, that actually allows the disc footprint and the amount of data you need to download to be smaller – we also give developers a lot of tools so they can be more intelligent about what assets get installed, and when. As an example, if you’re on a console that is set to English, do I need to download the French and the Spanish audio assets or the cutscenes?”

Ronald also brought up Fast Start, a new technology introduced by Microsoft a couple years ago that also works to toward this using machine learning.

“Also, two years ago now we also introduced a technology called Fast Start,” he said, “where we can use machine learning to understand what assets are being used and how often they’re being used, so we on the platform side can be more intelligent about what bits we install and when.”

According to Ronald, reducing file sizes of games and patches is “top of mind” for Microsoft and something they work with several partners on. He went on to say that though it’s a challenge, they want to make sure that issues such as these don’t “limit these amazing worlds and universes the game developers create.”

“It is top of mind for us,” he said. “It’s something we work closely with all the industry middleware companies, as well as developers on, and then we provide a whole series of tools to help them drive the size of those games down not only to minimise the amount of content you need to download, but also the overall size on the actual footprint on disc.

“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s definitely something we work hard on. But there’s no easy button that just magically makes everything smaller. What we don’t want to do is limit these amazing worlds and universes the game developers create. We just need to give them the tools to be able to make the right trade offs.”

In the same interview Ronald spoke about the notorious teraflops debate, and what Microsoft’s own view on it has been during the development of the Xbox Series X. Read more on that through here.

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