More and more developers seem to be piling on the hate for the Xbox Series S – Microsoft’s cheaper, lower-ended next-gen console. Speaking in an interview with Wccftech, Quantic Dream’s David Cage (Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human) admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the system due to its separate, weaker hardware configuration, which “complicates” the development process.
While the Xbox Series X boasts a 12.15-TFLOP AMD RDNA 2 GPU (52 CUs at 1.825 GHz) and 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM, its lesser sibling features a 4-TFLOP GPU (20 CUs at 1.565 GHz) with 10 GB of memory. That translates to a lower performance target of 1440p at 60 FPS vs. the flagship’s 4K at 60 FPS (although both can still hit 120 FPS in certain titles, according to Microsoft).
“Many developers prefer consoles to PC because on consoles you only have to deal with one hardware, whereas on PC there are so many configurations, graphic cards, drivers, controllers etc. that makes the development much more complex,” Cage began.
He goes on to suggest that the power of the Xbox Series X will be wasted because developers tend to build their titles with the lowest-tier hardware in mind.
“When a manufacturer offers two consoles with different specs, there is a strong chance that most developers will focus on the lower-end version to avoid doing two different versions,” he continued. “I must confess that I am really not a big fan of this situation. I think it is confusing for developers, but also for players, and although I can understand the commercial reasons behind this choice (a difference of €200 on the street price) I think the situation is questionable.”
“Regarding Quantic Dream, as we develop our own technology and engines, we are determined to optimize our titles for each platform. Being now a PC developer, we are implementing scalable features based on the platform, which is very helpful to highlight what the hardware has best to offer,” Cage added.
As much as we’ve enjoyed Quantic Dream’s games, we can’t help but scratch our heads at what Cage is saying, especially for someone who’s regularly had to port games to the PC in the past. What makes the Xbox Series S different? And did he forget that separate tiers already exist in the market (e.g., PS4/PS4 Pro, Xbox One X/Xbox One S)?
Who knows, but in a recent interview with The Verge, Jason Ronald (Microsoft’s director of Xbox program management) tackled the issue head on and suggested that the disparity is a non-issue.
“We did a lot of analysis of what it would really mean to run a game at 4K with 60fps and then to scale that down to 1440p at 60fps,” Ronald said. “The reality is you don’t need as much memory bandwidth because you’re not loading the highest level MIP levels into memory. You don’t need the same amount of memory as well.”
“Developers have a whole host of different techniques, whether that’s changing the resolution of their title, things like dynamic resolution scaling frame to frame — that’s something we’ve seen a lot of adoption of, especially towards the end of this generation,” he explained. “And obviously the ability to enable and display different visual effects, without actually implementing the fundamental gameplay.”
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