For a long time now, or at least what seems like a long time, I wondered when we’d get real details on the Xbox Series X. We see leaks like once a week or so, and the same goes for the PS5. Finally, we are getting a few more details on the Xbox Series X specs. Overall, things are roughly what fans and journalists speculated. Still, it’s exciting to hear from the Xbox Boss himself, Phil Spencer, on what he sees as the trajectory for the console. In a great blog post this morning for the Xbox blog, Spencer details info on the Xbox Series X specs, as well as the future of console gaming.
Ever since The Game Awards 2019, the Xbox Series X has been on our minds. We know the Xbox Series X has backwards compatibility as well. Still, many of Spencer’s comments in the blog post aren’t even about specs at all. Rather, the Xbox head seems to be talking just as much about vision as he is the console’s power. So, what actually makes up the future of Microsoft’s gaming wing?
Phil Spencer Welcomes Fans to the Next Generation of Gaming
Image Credit: Microsoft
We know the PS5 and Xbox Series X are going to be the premier home consoles of the future. As of late, Phil Spencer has been busy. Not only is a new console on the way, but he’s been vocal about his vision for the future. Most notably, Phil Spencer doesn’t see Microsoft’s competition as Sony or Nintendo. Rather, they’re focused on things like Microsoft xCloud, and competing with cloud technology giants like Google and Amazon. Still, the future is all about the games to a lot of players. So, how do you weigh the company’s vision for their console with what fans see as a decisive factor in buying a $500+ console? Sure, we don’t know the price yet, but if the PS5 manufacturing costs are any sign, we’ll be near the $500 mark.
Specs Are Important, But So is a vision
Spencer’s opening comments in the blog talk a lot about the inspiration he finds in the way gaming is heading. Cloud technology makes it possible to play games wherever you want. Streaming is bringing fans closer to the content creators they love. Plus, a new generation means a lot of hope and promise for the future. For fans, that comes down to two things: games and console power. The latter is more of concern for stereotypically labeled hardcore gamers, who put a lot of time and money into the activity.
Interestingly enough, before revealing specs details, Spencer points to the fact that people have already played the Xbox Series X. The company has a Take Home program, which works internally to get Xbox employees to play the new consoles or games as a testing period. Any company has this, but it sort of makes me laugh that Spencer says they are “energized by the feedback” they get…from their own employees. Gee, I sure didn’t see that one coming.
Inside the Xbox Series X
Image Credit: Microsoft
We see a lot of talk about speed for this upcoming console generation, and that’s what Spencer is leading with. It all starts with a custom designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 technologies. Spencer says the Xbox Series X specs make it four times faster in processing power than the Xbox One. 12 teraflops of GPU put the Series X at two times the power of the Xbox Series X. That means it’s actually 8 times as powerful as the original Xbox One. To be honest, it’s insane technology moves that fast; the Xbox One released in 2013.
What Does All this Power Mean?
Spencer does a great job in this blog talking about the specs, then diving into what that means. Of the GPU and processor technology, Spencer says the performance results in “higher framerates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.”
A great example is something like the Variable Rate Shading technology Xbox has patented. Spencer notes that it’s a technical spec that changes the way power is used, but makes sure to explain it. Of the VRS, he says “rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects.”
All of this VRS technology might only mean frame rate and resolution increases, but it’s a remarkable feature most won’t even know about. Same goes for DirectX Raytracing, a tool never seen in console gaming before which helps with realistic environments, lighting, and sound. It’s all in the Xbox Series X, whether players know it or not.
Xbox Series X Specs for User Experience
Image Credit: Microsoft
The best part of a new console cycle to me is the user experience improvements. Xbox Series X specs bring a lot graphically, but also improve a number of things we’ve waited to see for years. Firstly, SSD storage allows for larger games that load faster than ever. Quick Resume, which we see in the Switch now, is not only going to hold your place in one game, but multiple. Switch back and forth “almost instantly,” according to Spencer, without load screens and wait time.
Additionally, Dynamic Latency Input is meant to improve the response of controller inputs to the console. Essentially, when you hit a button, the console will respond immediately. Coupled with HDMI 2.1, Auto Low Latency Mode for TV settings, and a Variable Refresh Rate for non-stop frame rate adjustments to keep games from tearing, lag and waiting seem to be a thing of the past. Lastly, Spencer notes the Xbox Series X specs allow for games to run at 120 FPS. The human eye can see, on average given a user’s abilities, 150 FPS. Technically, the human eye is capable of seeing 1000 FPS, but our brains can’t always keep up.
The Future of Games on the Xbox Series X
Of course, the last section of the blog talks about games. A huge part of the Xbox mindset isn’t what you play, but where and how you play something. On top of loading speed additions, the Xbox Series X is a multi-generational, digital hub for all things Xbox. The console can play titles from the OG Xbox and Xbox 360 days, as well as Xbox One games. No developer work makes all Xbox Game Pass games faster and better on the Series X.
Smart Delivery is a feature that caught my eye in the blog. The technology allows you to buy a game, and play it on an Xbox One or Xbox Series X. When you send it to your console, the game automatically knows which version to download for you. While Xbox Game Studios will be using it on all titles moving forward, Spencer notes that “this technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be released on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.”
Xbox Series X Specs Look Great…On Paper
Image Credit: Microsoft
Everything looks great on paper. The PS4 is bar none the better console in terms of what games you can play. Still, I enjoyed my time with the Xbox One, especially given its Game Pass and user experience upgrades. Because of this, I’m hyped for the Xbox Series X specs…on paper. None of this matters if Microsoft can’t compile a meaningful games library to use all of these specs.
I’ll still give props to the team for building a great collection of new and innovative technologies. For the majority of gamers, specs are going to have a ceiling. Things like 120 FPS and improved textures aren’t going to matter if they can’t play the hottest games. Sony clearly knows how to compile a great games library. If their PS5 specs are close to this, then a lot of people are going to need to see compelling evidence from Microsoft to buy an Xbox Series X. I’m eager to see what comes next, including an actual price announcement. The Xbox Series X releases Holiday 2020.
Read the full blog here. Thanks for reading Comic Years for all things gaming, comics, and pop culture.
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft
Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Shepherds. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.