Xbox Series S is a ball and chain for developers.  Does the console limit the potential of the next generation?

When Microsoft launched the Xbox Series S, many gamers and developers wondered how the lower specifications of this model would affect game development in the coming years.

On the one hand, XSS is a less expensive alternative to the Xbox Series On the other hand, there is criticism that the low computing power of this device poses a serious challenge to game developers.

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For some, it will be an affordable gateway to the world of the next generation, for others – a ball and chain that limits the gaming potential. Developers are increasingly vocal about their frustration, pointing to the console’s weaker specs as the source of many of the problems. Are they right? Is this “weaker Xbox” really holding back game development?

Determinants


One of the main arguments against the Xbox Series S is the need to adapt games to the lowest common specifications. It is this “minimum specification” that may limit developers’ ability to fully exploit the potential of modern technologies. Sasan Sepehr, of studio Ninja Theory (formerly of Remedy Entertainment), confirms this Optimizing games for XSS can cause “problems” and require additional work. Similar concerns have been voiced by Epic Games (formerly Infinity Ward)’s David Mickner, designer of, among others, Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode, who stated that weaker “S” specs could pose a bottleneck in next-gen game development. .

Practical issues caused by the limitations of the Xbox Series S can be seen in the game’s high-profile first trailers. One of the most prominent examples of this is the game Baldur’s Gate 3, the release of the Xbox version of which was delayed due to technical problems related to launching the cooperative mode on “S”.. Ultimately, the game was released without this feature (it could only be played over the network, not locally using split-screen), sparking discussions about the trade-off of quality in the context of cross-platform gaming.

Customize the game and working environment

Xbox Series S / Xbox Series X

Developers face additional challenges in adapting their titles to weaker specifications. Wolfgang Wozniak, CEO of Poppy Works studio, points out that creating games for multiple platforms can be complex, especially if the weakest ones are not taken into account at the early stage of development. These issues are often exacerbated by middleware, which can hamper game performance more than hardware differences alone. However, the developers themselves are very selective about Microsoft’s approach: if you want to make a game for Xbox, you have to take both platforms into account.

However, improving the game is more than just adapting to technical specifications. Developers who have the opportunity to focus on a single platform can better understand the hardware and take advantage of a variety of optimization techniques that can mask low performance. An example of this is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which, despite relatively “old hardware” like the Nintendo Switch, It works smoothly thanks to the developers’ deep understanding of the hardware capabilities. But the problem is that there is no game designed specifically for weaker Xbox consoles. Therefore, using the full potential of S-ki, including the use of all kinds of tricks, is not included in the production schedule.

Developers often have to use various downgrade techniques to make games run smoothly on weaker devices. This involves the process of downgrading the graphics quality, frames per second (FPS), or other visual elements of a game to adapt it to less efficient hardware. Examples of these actions include reducing resolution, reducing texture quality, reducing environmental detail, and reducing special effects. On the other hand, the Xbox Series So the game is created with a weaker console in mind, and only then everything (graphics) is optimized for the more powerful hardware.

Advantages from the consumer’s point of view

Xbox Series S

Despite the many technical challenges, the Xbox Series S has its advantages. The affordable price means more gamers can afford to enter the world of next-gen gaming. Slave Zero X lead producer Rose McKee confirms this The extra work to improve games is a price worth paying to keep games accessible to a wide range of players. In addition, it is worth noting the importance of Game Pass and the Cloud Gaming service, which works very well, allowing you to enjoy better graphics on weaker devices, and this is just one of the many advantages of cloud gaming. But of course there are also drawbacks.

From a business perspective, Microsoft’s approach to maintaining feature parity between the Xbox Series S and. However, increasing technological requirements and player expectations may make developers more critical of the need for “S” support. As we progress (and we’re halfway through the generation), we may find that the differences in specs become more noticeable, which could lead to greater challenges for game developers.

The Xbox Series S isn’t that bad, though it may actually be a drawback for developers

Xbox Series S

The Xbox Series S is a double-edged sword for developers. On the one hand, it provides access to the new generation of games to a wider audience, which is beneficial from a market perspective. On the other hand, its lower specifications may pose a serious technological challenge, limiting the possibilities of fully exploiting the potential of modern technologies in games. Discussions about the impact of the Xbox Series S on game development are still lively and will certainly remain one of the main topics in the industry in the coming years. Ultimately, it will be up to players to decide if S’s affordability makes up for any potential limitations in game quality.

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