Since Microsoft launched the Xbox One last year it’s received a fair bit of criticism from potential buyers worried about the Xbox One’s inability to play games at a resolution that matches Sony’s PS4 gaming console. As Microsoft explained this morning, it’s taking some immediate steps to remedy this issue for Xbox One consoles sitting on store shelves and in user’s homes already.
Microsoft Studios creative director Ken Lobb talked at length about the software changes Microsoft is introducing to make every Xbox One game look a bit better than what’s possible today. According to Lobb, Microsoft didn’t permanently take the 10% of graphics processing power that was dedicated to running the Kinect 2 sensor away permanently like previously assumed. Instead the company created a system in which the Xbox One knows whether the Kinect 2 sensor is plugged in and adjusts accordingly.
“Lots of people ask ‘so, you’re taking back the GPU reserve for Kinect. Well, does that mean I can’t say, ‘Xbox, record that?’ Now.” More specifically, Microsoft has rethought the way the Xbox One’s Xbox OS operating system manages voice recognition and gesture recognition.
It theory, Xbox One developers now can now make games that are run at 60 frames per second with full resolution. Of course, it’s up to developers to take advantage of this functionality in each individual game. Lobb says that users shouldn’t think of it as Xbox One’s without a Kinect sensor instantly having more RAM or processing power.”
Since whether to use the RAM or not is made on the title level, it’s highly unlikely that any of users older games wouldn’t suddenly look better, at least not without a title update form the developer.
There does seem to be a bit of a misunderstanding where Kinect 2 sensor’s controls are concerned. Today, every Xbox One users can perform gesture commands with their hands while inside of a game. Doing so allows users to quickly access in snapped apps and more. Going forward, that won’t be the case for games created specifically without Kinect support. According to Eurogamer, the outlet that spoke with Lobb on the subject, users won’t be able to go back to the Xbox One’s home screen with hand gestures while inside of a game.
In theory, the Xbox One won’t automatically monitor controllers to see who’s playing in these games either. That’s a shame since Microsoft used not having to manage sign-ins during multiplayer games as a big reason to have the Xbox One over the PS4. To be clear, these features will still work when the user minimizes a game that uses the power meant for Kinect. Voice commands will work as long as users have a Kinect 2 sensor plugged in. It doesn’t appear if those will be effected by this behind the scenes change at all.
All of this is to say that Microsoft has eliminated another reason for users to choose the PS4 over the Xbox One. Previously, some developers argued that they simply couldn’t hit the full 1080p resolution and achieve 30 frames per second with the way the Xbox One previously behaved. That’s key because the higher the resolution the more detailed a game looks.
Sunset Overdrive, Microsoft’s big new game launching on the Xbox One this holiday season, will include more in-game characters and better graphics thanks to the performance changes. Developer Bungie has confirmed that the Destiny for Xbox One first-person shooter and online role playing game will have the same frame rate and resolution as Destiny for the PS4 when they both arrive in September. Previously, that wasn’t the case.
Microsoft recently launched the perfect console to take advantage of this functionality. Last week the company began selling the $399 Xbox One. It includes the same controller, HDMI cable, power plug, and chat headset that the $499 Xbox One does. It doesn’t include a Kinect 2 sensor. This bundle has also eliminated the PS4’s other big advantage: pricing.