The power difference between the original Xbox One/Xbox One S compared to that of the new Xbox One X is rather remarkable. While it’s not exactly a huge leap like a new generation, it does push the envelope in that direction. Since the Xbox One X is designed to be able to play games in native 4K, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some folks are wondering how developers will handle optimization between it and its much more humble 1080p-limited brethren.
This topic came up during a recent interview from GameInformer with Xbox Market Lead Albert Penello. Penello stressed that Microsoft didn’t design the One X to outpace the One S so much that games would perform noticeably more terrible on the weaker hardware. Rather, Microsoft has created the development environment to allow for great performance on the One S which will result in even better performance on the One X. He compared it to what developers have to deal with when making games for PC, which has many different hardware configurations.
Here’s his full comment:
I don’t see that as being a challenge that we’re going to face. It wasn’t how we designed the system. Games are going to run great on Xbox One S and they’re going to run better on Xbox One X. This is a question I get a lot, and I also like to talk about modern game development, but also how we built the console. The Xbox One and Xbox One S are the same console in so many ways. It is just a more powerful version of the other console. Game developers these days are building their game engines inherently to be scalable. Even if you take consoles out of it, PCs have a far bigger scale from their bottom-end to their top-end than the Xbox One S to the Xbox One X. So modern game development already takes this performance scaling into consideration
You sort of don’t hear this on PC, this idea that, “Oh, if I didn’t have to run this on the Intel integrated graphics card that PC games would be so much better.” It’s very much the same way for the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X; they are the same console, the same tools, the same engine, the same development environment. Even with just a short development time – the Xbox One X development kits have only been out since E3 – we’re already seeing the level of performance between the two because it’s really easy to get your engines up and running. There’s no holding back of Xbox One X because of Xbox One S; they are both the same console, the same platform, and they’re both going to play the same games as long as we sell those consoles.
The interviewer had basically given the example of the 3DS/2DS and New 3DS/New 2DS when he asked Penello the question. It is true that some games between the two versions of the handheld have performed noticeably worse on the original 3DS due to the weaker hardware. There are even a few titles that are exclusive to the New 3DS/2DS systems due to the hardware upgrade. Microsoft made it clear from last year when the X was first announced that all games would support both the One S and One X.
While things seem pretty fair right now, it is appropriate to be concerned about the future. As time goes on, the One S’ hardware will become more and more limited. The same applies to the PS4 and PS4 Pro. Will developers eventually need to tap into the added power of the mid-generation upgrades in order to properly fulfill their vision? For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.