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Digital Foundry | Can Microsoft deliver next-gen experiences while still supporting Xbox One?

leng jai

Member
Nov 2, 2017
10,780
I think the big question is what the scope of their projects will be moving forward.

I always thought it strange that some folks here think a linear Halo campaign could not possibly be made to work between consoles generations.

We don't know much of what MS has planned after Infinite, but I think we can assume Forizon Horizon 5, Fable, and Gears 6 will follow.

There's Hellblade 2 as well, and though I'm sure it'll show off the technical prowess of the Series X, a linear action game shouldn't be too daunting a challenge to downgrade. Remember, that Switch port of Hellblade is supposedly solid considering the gulf in power.

Maybe Fable is where the cut off happens. We'll see.
Hellblade 1 was incredibly limited in scope and you were only ever fighting a few enemies at a time. If the sequel is similar with just jacked up visuals then it's not even relevant to this discussion.
 
Oct 29, 2017
3,936
I'm going to try one last time before i go do something else.
Take Assassin's Creed. You can develop a 2d amiga version of Assassin's Creed that will have the exact same level design. Sure you won't be running through a super realistic Paris in 3D with tons of people in the streets, but how does that matter after all, it's all about the actual core game design right ?

Now take F-Zero, hey you could have made the same game from the top on NES i'm sure, with the same exact game design.
No. They would not play the same. At all.

You are talking about an era where advances in technology actually mattered to game design. You could not replicate F-Zero on the NES in any capacity that resembles the same gameplay; and your absurd example of a 2D Amiga version of Assassin's Creed is just laughable.

That era is dead and buried though. There is no meaningful difference between the way in which a hypothetical Assassin's Creed on PS2, would play VS its PS3 counterpart however (or even PSP... which actually did get several Assassin's Creed games that all played like their console counterparts). The difference is purely in their aesthetics.

Except those games are different cause of their tech and how they're represented, and that's part of what you experience in a videogame. You can't just say "but there is nothing new cause i could simplify the game to no graphics" cause then we never ever needed new consoles to begin with.

So the dynamic weather is no cosmetic in Drive Club, nor the super realistic light in The Order, they are part of what those games are and they wouldn't exist without them, and couldn't exist the generation before.
Drive Club could be replicated on the PS3 with lesser visuals. Easily. And its existence wouldn't have made the PS4 version a lesser game; which is my overall point.

If Drive Club was a cross-gen game, it would still have been the same game on PS4 as what it is now (barring any potential issues with manpower needed to support two versions across different hardware architectures). Consoles are nothing more than standard spec PCs in a box now (to the point that PS5 and Xbox Series X will be binary compatible with existing PS4/Xbox One games); so it is reletively trivial to dial up and down visual settings, like what PC games have done for generations.

And that is what these "next-gen" games will be. They will be PS4 and Xbox One games with the visual settings dialed up, regardless of whether or not a version actually gets released for PS4 and Xbox One. It makes no material difference to the PS5/Xbox Series X games themselves anyway, meaning that there is no real reason to be concerned about the proliferation of cross-gen games across these first two years.
 

Sticky

Member
Oct 31, 2017
50
The old console will hold back all games that cant reach 60fps. So do not expect loads of 60fps multiplayer cross-gen games on the new console.
 

Flash

Member
Oct 27, 2017
252
Of course Microsoft can. The same way PC versions of games can deliver "next-gen experiences" (a term that has no meaning) but also be "held back" (another term that has no meaning) by current and next gen consoles.
 

TE4M GREENE

Member
Sep 23, 2019
8
Expanding this to first 2 years of availability to make it a fair comparison

Sunset Overdrive
Dead Rising 3 (as explained in the video)
Killzone Shadow Fall
Watch Dogs
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Infamous: Second Son
Warhawk (PS3)
Halo 3
Ryze: Son Of Rome
Gears of War
Halo: Combat Evolved
Soul Calibur (hell, half the Dreamcast launch lineup for that matter)
Metal Gear Solid 2
Grand Theft Auto III

This is just off the top of my head.
When discussing this topic, we do have to keep in mind that Booty said 1-2 years from X019. That suggests this cross-gen window ends at some undetermined time next year. Not two years after the launch of Series X. Sorry if I've taken your quote out of context. There's a lot of replies in here.
 

Flux

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,188
I don't think so personally, look at the 360 ports of ROTTR and Forza Horizon 2 they look nice for what they're running on but are about the equivalent to upper low end settings on PC and far from their next gen versions (and understandably so). But they can almost certainly deliver next gen experiences on XBSX and perhaps XB1X, just not the OG XB1.
 
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jelly

Member
Oct 26, 2017
12,046
Unless Microsoft are releasing their entire generations worth of 1st party titles in year one, I don't think there is anything to worry about.

If they release a bunch of great cross gen games in year 1 are you going to turn your nose up at them because they aren't next gen exclusive, it's absurd and the big hitters like Halo 5 have been in dev so long just like Last of Us 2 etc. what would justify them cutting the cord, nothing.
 

Replicant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,942
MN
“Can PC developers truly support a 2080TI and a 1080TI?”

It’s almost like scaling to specs doesn’t exist.
 

MysticGon

Member
Oct 31, 2017
3,633
Great video. I'm 100% for supporting old tech with new games if the audience is there. As long as the gameplay is fun just ramp up the values to 11 to keep graphic hawks happy about being better off than their fellow last gen gamers.
 

BradGrenz

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,214
They did not make that game from scratch, with no reuse of their prior PS3 engine tech, or any PS3 assets, within a year. You are a fool if you think that.

Game development never starts from truly nothing. The game would have had to have started on PS3 and then been ported over to the PS4 hardware as the SDKs were delivered to Guerella's offices.
That's a lot of unfounded equivocation! The engine having roots on the PS3 is not the same as the game "starting as a PS3 game that was ported to PS4".
 

K.Jack

Rap Genius
Moderator
Oct 27, 2017
2,935
Dark Space
I'm glad Richard brought up this example. I was told anyone who uses this example doesn't know anything about game development.
I'm not even sure that's a good example or that what they typed here is entirely accurate. The Witcher 3 is in reality not very CPU intensive and runs well on a dual core if you are targeting 30fps. It also wasn't designed around 6+ core CPUs. A 4c/8t 6700K runs it at the same fps as an 8c/16t 6900K.

The Switch and the PS4/X1 aren't generations in technology apart either.
 

McScroggz

The Fallen
Jan 11, 2018
2,998
It depends on how you are defining next gen games. Like, if it’s basically the stuff we’ve been getting but with 60FPS instead of 30 and/or 4K, then obviously Microsoft can do that. While it’s harder to define, the sorts of things a true next gen console can allow for game developers is a lot less scaleable. Things like how a world is designed, how intricate it is, and populated, and vertical, and how complex is the AI - and really it’s how all of these different things are together.

I don’t know what/if a next gen game will look like that’s beyond just the visuals or how obvious it is based on that stuff. Unfortunately it’s that stuff that excited me, so how scaleable visuals/polish are isn’t interesting to me personally.
 

Jiraiya

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,280
Trying to say there were no good launch exclusives in the past and use it as an argument for the up-coming gen...

It wasn't nonsense. When you see MS put huge money in ads for XSX come this holiday, not gamepass, you will know they got their priorities mixed.
I didn't say they weren't good. I said their gameplay wasn't so drastic that it couldn't run on the previous gen.

Most of us have no idea what the new gen is capable of. But people have come up with wishlists of what they hope this little info means and they use that wishlist to be concretely negative about news like this. That's bizarre to me.

Here's what is concrete. This is not Microsoft's first new generation. They're also selling you a premium console.

My thoughts....i find it hard to believe Microsoft thinks they can sale us a machine like the series X and not show us why. Mainly because i don't believe in this paradigm shift in gameplay some others are thinking we're getting.
 

Fisty

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,701
When discussing this topic, we do have to keep in mind that Booty said 1-2 years from X019. That suggests this cross-gen window ends at some undetermined time next year. Not two years after the launch of Series X. Sorry if I've taken your quote out of context. There's a lot of replies in here.
I dont think he meant from two years from X019, wouldnt make sense because XSX probably wont even launch until X020
 
Dec 31, 2017
483
E
haha, nice analogies.


You should watch the Spider-Man GDC tech postmortem, it'll open your eyes to the issues regarding the hoops they had to jump through to present that open world. And in that context, you can see what that kind fo throughput from SSD could do to revolutionise game design at a fundamental level.
Except if you’ve played on a PC before imo that is nothing revolutionary...
 

TE4M GREENE

Member
Sep 23, 2019
8
I dont think he meant from two years from X019, wouldnt make sense because XSX probably wont even launch until X020
The beginning of the original article:

"It’s now been over six years since the troubled launch of the Xbox One and another 10 months or so until we see the release of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. Yet despite all that, we’ve never seen a platform holder less in need of a next-gen boost than Microsoft is now."

"That confidence came through in every interview, and casual chat, we had at Microsoft’s X019 meeting late last year. Across the board there’s momentum, fresh ideas and a sense of focus around Microsoft’s gaming arm at present. The platform is buzzing."

Here's the quote from Mat Booty:

“As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” Booty explains. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.”


Obviously, Series X had not yet been revealed. This was also pre-Black Friday and Microsoft was heavily pushing the Xbox One S-All Digital Edition, Xbox All Access and Xbox Game pass.
 

345

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,171
I see your point..But there are people still gaming on 970’s and 4th gen Intel CPU’s. Games have to scale. There’s no reason to think because Microsoft is developing for all of the Xbox family, that they are somehow holding back their next gen hardware.
there is a big difference between scaling down visual settings in accordance with a linear power decrease and having to stop yourself from designing games that would simply not run on a different class of hardware without an entirely customised downport.

a 4th-gen intel i5 is vastly more powerful than what the xbox one s has to work with today. that's actually the whole point — the benefit of a legit new CPU and SSD is not going to be felt as strongly if games still need to run on jaguar and 5400rpm.

i like the move from an xbox ecosystem perspective but i have no doubt you'll see a difference in PS5 exclusives if sony doesn't go the same route.
 

K.Jack

Rap Genius
Moderator
Oct 27, 2017
2,935
Dark Space
When discussing this topic, we do have to keep in mind that Booty said 1-2 years from X019. That suggests this cross-gen window ends at some undetermined time next year. Not two years after the launch of Series X. Sorry if I've taken your quote out of context. There's a lot of replies in here.
What sense would it make for the "cross-gen window" to start before the new-gen has even begun?
 

ColonelForbin

Member
Oct 28, 2017
472
This is all silliness at this point. Microsoft is just making computers. Can a computer with a better graphics card, hard drive, memory, and CPU play games better than a 5 year old one?!?! Yup. Ok conversation done. It’s all scalable at this point. The loading times will be better. I guess there is that. Like Sony will have some secret sauce in their PS5. It’s just the upgraded version. Prettier graphics and faster loading times is what you are getting. (Sure more crap on the screen at once). This argument that their needs to be an exclusive launch line up is tired. I just want to have the best console that can play all the games at the highest fidelity. I guess we will see which company delivers that. (They both will have their exclusives eventually, yes I know Sony will have launch exclusives but we have no idea how many and what).
 

ElNerdo

Member
Oct 22, 2018
448
Starting from the PS3 era moving forward, nearly any game can be made to run on previous generations. All you'd need to do is lower everything: resolution, textures, scope, etc.

Game design hasn't really changed since around the PS2 era. We've mainly been getting games that look prettier and have become bigger since then.

That's basically what next gen always brings: better visuals and bigger environments than the last.

This next generation though, if targeted exclusively, can show a bigger jump due to advancements in CPU, GPU, RAM, RT, SSD.

A first year cross-gen first party game will not look as good as a first party next-gen exclusive game, especially when it's actually one dev trying to accommodate for lower end hardware. This gen was different, due to cross-gen games being worked on by different devs. The current gen version was able to take advantage of current hardware while the previous gen version was ported down.

Cross-gen first party titles will probably still look like current gen titles with a higher resolution and better performance, with some improvements like shadows and such. Essentially, a cross-gen game on Xbox Series X will probably look like a current gen game with ultra settings while a next-gen exclusive will actually look next-gen, since they wouldn't need to take 7 year old hardware into account.
 

Yogi

Member
Nov 10, 2019
876
PC scaling sucks for the high-end owners unless they only want higher fps and resolution. Games aren't made to specifically take advantage of that power, they just get whatever they can scale up or turn on. Games aren't designed specifically for their hardware, they are just "ported up".

That's why they also love new console launches. It means the minimum specs finally go up and people expect better games.
 

huH1678

Member
Oct 30, 2017
875
I see your point..But there are people still gaming on 970’s and 4th gen Intel CPU’s. Games have to scale. There’s no reason to think because Microsoft is developing for all of the Xbox family, that they are somehow holding back their next gen hardware.
I mean current consoles is holding PC back, there is a reason why folks can still run games with 970s and 4th gen intels. No one calls mid/high end PC gaming next gen, its basically turning a few graphics sliders higher. Same for the One X and same for the SeX most likely. So yeah having xbox one as a baseline will hold the SeX back, the CPUs differences are massive.
 

Ωλ7XL9

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,085
Chennai <-> Bangalore, India
It's a double-edged sword, while the series x would help in hitting native 4K with higher frame rates, games built from the ground up on Series X would certainly shine in design and systems that weren't quite possible on current gen systems.
 

Replicant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,942
MN
I mean current consoles is holding PC back, there is a reason why folks can still run games with 970s and 4th gen intels. No one calls mid/high end PC gaming next gen, its basically turning a few graphics sliders higher. Same for the One X and same for the SeX most likely. So yeah having xbox one as a baseline will hold the SeX back, the CPUs differences are massive.
Consoles are not in any way holding PC gaming back.
 

Yogi

Member
Nov 10, 2019
876
Consoles are not in any way holding PC gaming back.
Consoles do hold back mid to high-end PC gaming, but without new consoles the minimum specs for games don't go up as clear-cut either.

Framerate, resolution or some shadow setting toggles that scale up easily are not the only benefits of much more power. It's not the full potential of their power.
 
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K.Jack

Rap Genius
Moderator
Oct 27, 2017
2,935
Dark Space
This is all silliness at this point. Microsoft is just making computers. Can a computer with a better graphics card, hard drive, memory, and CPU play games better than a 5 year old one?!?! Yup. Ok conversation done. It’s all scalable at this point. The loading times will be better. I guess there is that. Like Sony will have some secret sauce in their PS5. It’s just the upgraded version. Prettier graphics and faster loading times is what you are getting. (Sure more crap on the screen at once). This argument that their needs to be an exclusive launch line up is tired. I just want to have the best console that can play all the games at the highest fidelity. I guess we will see which company delivers that. (They both will have their exclusives eventually, yes I know Sony will have launch exclusives but we have no idea how many and what).
The PC comparison is based around such fallacy and just needs to stop being used. On PC, the fastest hardware is never being targeted specifically so it's nothing like consoles.

Develop games exclusively for an i9-9900K/Ryzen 3900X's full potential and then talk about "it's was just scaling bro" as owners of quad cores experience an extinction level event.

If the XSX's full potential was targeted with no remorse, Jaguar would be wiped from even loading the title screen.
 

Polyh3dron

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,304
And if you watched the video, you'd know Guerrilla Games wanted to have flying as a traversal mechanic in Horizon Zero Dawn but weren't able to because of the HDD.
You expect too much if you expect everyone ITT to actually watch this video and process the information in it.

It reminds me of how Miyamoto wanted to put Yoshi in SMB3 but couldn’t due to hardware restrictions. Fundamental design decisions get made with hardware limitations taken into consideration all the time and it’s not always a matter of halving the frame rate or turning off SSAO.
 

zombiejames

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,636
The PC comparison is based around such fallacy and just needs to stop being used. On PC, the fastest hardware is never being targeted specifically so it's nothing like consoles.

Develop games exclusively for an i9-9900K/Ryzen 3900X's full potential and then talk about "it's was just scaling bro" as owners of quad cores experience an extinction level event.
Thank you.
 

Replicant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,942
MN
The majority of what PC's play are better versions of current-gen games. You know, "scaling". What games are out there (other than maybe Star Citizen) that are actually designed from the ground-up for modern PCs?
There are thousands of PC games released every year that never come to console. None of them are that far beyond what a console can do. Xbox One X GPU is comparable to a mid range modern graphic card. CPU’s are the main choke point on the current consoles, but not in the sense that they would be limiting a PC game.
 

Monster Zero

Member
Nov 5, 2017
4,792
Southern California
They should make Halo 900p on Xbox, 1440p+ on X, and 4K on series X. Whatever assets they have to adjust to reach that goal so be it. This is how it should be for all their games moving forward.
 

Replicant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,942
MN
If PC’s are being limited so much, why haven’t we seen a developer just say fuck it and go all out on a PC game that the consoles couldn’t do? Not even one case of it.
 

Trup1aya

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,308
That would mean publishers paying an additional team without any extra monetization to cover that cost, I dont see that happening at all
I'm not saying this will be the case, but during this gen, microsoft has been routinely paying second teams to handle their ports
Expanding this to first 2 years of availability to make it a fair comparison

Sunset Overdrive
Dead Rising 3 (as explained in the video)
Killzone Shadow Fall
Watch Dogs
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Infamous: Second Son
Warhawk (PS3)
Halo 3
Ryze: Son Of Rome
Gears of War
Halo: Combat Evolved
Soul Calibur (hell, half the Dreamcast launch lineup for that matter)
Metal Gear Solid 2
Grand Theft Auto III

This is just off the top of my head.
First I don't know what you are expanding for 2 years after launch because MS' comment refers to a period that begins nov2019 and ends no later than nov 2021.

As such,

Most of these games either weren't launch games or didn't feature gameplay elements that were impossible in prior generations...

Halo and Soul Caliber fit bill...
 

Polyh3dron

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,304
The PC comparison is based around such fallacy and just needs to stop being used. On PC, the fastest hardware is never being targeted specifically so it's nothing like consoles.

Develop games exclusively for an i9-9900K/Ryzen 3900X's full potential and then talk about "it's was just scaling bro" as owners of quad cores experience an extinction level event.

If the XSX's full potential was targeted with no remorse, Jaguar would be wiped from even loading the title screen.
This. All of this. I don’t know why this concept seems so hard to grasp for some people.
 

TE4M GREENE

Member
Sep 23, 2019
8
What sense would it make for the "cross-gen window" to start before the new-gen has even begun?
My take is that it instills confidence that the console you buy today (or last Black Friday) will still be useful tomorrow. "Cross-gen window" is merely the term I used to describe what Matt Booty was talking about. As far as I know, it's not an official term used by Xbox, so don't take it too literally.

Here's the original article from MCV: https://www.mcvuk.com/we-need-to-deliver-on-the-promises-that-we-make-xbox-game-studios-matt-booty-on-the-future-of-xbox/
 

Yogi

Member
Nov 10, 2019
876
If PC’s are being limited so much, why haven’t we seen a developer just say fuck it and go all out on a PC game that the consoles couldn’t do? Not even one case of it.
Star Citizen would be that game. Crysis was that game. Not many people have the hardware.

I wish Cyberpunk 2077 was that game and they made it for the ground up for next-gen consoles. It's going to be bitter sweet that it releases at the end of this gen. Imagine if it was made ground-up for next gen and was a launch game. People are upgrading their rigs for it.

It would probably be buggy...unless they shared the specs with devs ages ago.
 

leng jai

Member
Nov 2, 2017
10,780
Even if there were "AAA" PC exclusives they still wouldn't target ultra high end specs because that would limit the market too much.

They should make Halo 900p on Xbox, 1440p+ on X, and 4K on series X. Whatever assets they have to adjust to reach that goal so be it. This is how it should be for all their games moving forward.
This is exactly what we don't want, that would just make the Series X like a 1X Pro. The difference in power and processing potential is much bigger than similar bumping up a game from 1440p to 4K.
 
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Flux

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,188
If PC’s are being limited so much, why haven’t we seen a developer just say fuck it and go all out on a PC game that the consoles couldn’t do? Not even one case of it.
There's Star Citizen but even that doesn't look far beyond what the best current gen has to offer visuals-wise, let alone next gen games.
 

Replicant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,942
MN
This. All of this. I don’t know why this concept seems so hard to grasp for some people.
Because the concept is not sound.

You know those fantastic GPU benchmark fools that trash the highest of high end features? How come even top of the line cards and CPU’s can still struggle with them? Is it not optimized? Why don’t we see an example of a PC game that would be impossible to run on a console?

Because even the the tech has improved, ultimately the tools are very much the same.
 

Barneystuta

Member
Nov 4, 2017
1,185
I am not going to pretend to be an expert... but look at Sea of Thieves.

The art style may help, but this is a pretty impressive graphics engine that scales incredibly well. It runs and is playable at low resolutions on my entry level Surface Pro 3.

Looking at it on a One X though, the game looks really impressive. And on a high spec PC, I can imagine it looks even better.

In no way does the fact it works on entry weaker PCs is the game "held back".
 

Tagyhag

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,983
If PC’s are being limited so much, why haven’t we seen a developer just say fuck it and go all out on a PC game that the consoles couldn’t do? Not even one case of it.
It's all about the market.

Hypothetically, if a game was made JUST for 2080Ti/12 core CPU at 5.5ghz, 32GB of RAM, super fast SSD, and had a budget of 500 million with whatever dev time, we would see something even beyond Star Citizen.

But because of that, I think it's less consoles holding the PC back and more the marketshare.

While it would be cool to see what a game like that would look like, financially it will never make sense.

Especially since PC doesn't have a big daddy financing said games.