So this week I’ve seen YouTubers and commentators fall over themselves to pour fear all over the Xbox Series X for, in my view, something that should be seen as a pro-consumer move.
Xbox Studios head Matt Booty said in an interview that indeed, the Xbox Series X will be a cross-gen console, with games hitting Xbox One X and S, in addition to the Series X.
The common narrative has been that this is somehow bad, because it somehow, checks notes, will restrict games to their base version, namely the Xbox One S. Wait, what? Really?
Okay, so there were instances even this generation where games have only had Xbox One S scaling modes, skipping the extra power provided by the Xbox One X. Back in 2017. But in 2020, I had to search pretty hard to find examples. The vast majority, if not all, AAA games in 2020 do have an Xbox One X mode, with up to 4K visuals, or 60 frames per second, or in some cases both.
Does that change for the Xbox Series X? The answer is quite literally no.
You might be able to argue PowerPC and x86 architecture simultaneously (along with Kinect, ahem) hurt the RYSE’s scope and gameplay, but we live in very different times now. The Xbox Series X shares a developer environment, and a dev kit, with the Xbox One S and X. This is complete with modern software, improved developer tools, and a common set of APIs. Although the Xbox 360 version never actually launched, in today’s times, RYSE would’ve fared far better as a cross-generational title, with improved tools to scale to different devices.
Now, you can argue that developers don’t have the resources or dev hours to target each SKU with specific graphics settings. Typically those developers are on the indie side, which are less likely to be pushing photorealistic visuals anyway. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, it just is what it is.
Microsoft would also be cutting itself off at the knees to disconnect the tens of millions of Xbox One owners out there, many of whom may just be picking up Xbox One X consoles for the first time as soon as 2019. In a world where Project Xcloud streaming, easy access via Xbox Game Pass and Xbox All Access are things, install base is god. Arbitrarily adhering to the “old-school rules” of a new console generation is simply a bad business decision in 2020.