Ever since Microsoft revealed Halo: Infinite as a launch title for Xbox Series X, fans have been excited about the future of Xbox. Then, once news broke that Halo’s return is being developed for Xbox One also, it led to confusion. Why promise next-gen features when the games are being developed with current-gen hardware in mind? Well, Phil Spencer has now clarified what his (and his team’s) vision is regarding backward, and more importantly, forwards compatibility across Xbox consoles.
In a new interview with GamesIndustry, Phil Spencer (Head of Xbox) had the following to say when asked whether developers are held back by Xbox One:
“Frankly, held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition. 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.”
It’s interesting how Phil Spencer compares the Xbox ecosystem to PC, where terms like scalability come into play. We all know how on PC you can pick and choose how you want your games to look and play. Well, if these quotes are anything to go by, it looks like Xbox games will offer similar settings.
Console games have for the longest time been locked to the visuals that developers target for. We saw the first wave of scalability with the enhanced consoles – Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. Games on both base and pro consoles run and play differently. It seems like Phil Spencer wants the Xbox Series X to take the same idea forward, giving players more freedom regarding how they want to play.
“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?”
This is quite the opposite of what Sony is doing with the PS5 – offering unique experiences that can’t be replicated on older consoles. Isn’t that why we get in line to get the latest console? To get unique experiences? Well, Xbox certainly has a different strategy with the Series X. It’s clear that Microsoft’s idea of “exclusive games” is quite different from Sony’s. All Xbox exclusive games are available on PC, and with xCloud any device with an internet connection. And let’s not forget about the not-so-secret Xbox Series S (Lockhart)…
We’ll get our first look at Halo: Infinite gameplay at the Xbox Games Showcase on July 23. We might even get a good look at how games will differ in terms of visual fidelity, framerate and loading times on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles.
Xbox Series X is targeting a Late 2020 release, with Halo Infinite intended to be a launch title available on all Xbox consoles.