the Xbox Series X is the most compatible new generation console. Or at least, Microsoft made this claim in a new blog today. But time will likely prove that the company is right – especially when you consider the considerable efforts it continues to make. backward compatibility. And Microsoft is serious about continuing on Xbox Series X. It is promising that its next generation hardware will support thousands of existing games when it debuts this holiday season.
In his blog post, Director of Xbox Series X program management Jason Ronald explained the thinking behind Microsoft’s backward compatibility work. He underscored his own story by choosing Final Fantasy XIII after falling in love with the Xbox 360 game. The company doesn’t want Xbox fans to give up on games. But backward compatibility is not as simple as flipping a switch. With that in mind, Microsoft has approached the Xbox Series X from the start with legacy support in mind.
But this strategy means that Microsoft has been able to integrate support into the Xbox Series X at the hardware and operating system levels.
“Maintaining compatibility is a huge technical challenge as the fundamental architectures of systems and chips progress from generation to generation,” writes Ronald. “Developers strongly leverage their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players.”
Preserving the Xbox Legacy
Integrating backward compatibility for multiple system architectures requires a lot of creativity and determination. But it is also something that Microsoft is competent.
“To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console, it took both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our platform new generation form, “writes Ronald.
Hypervisor is the software that allows an operating system to create virtual machines that have near-direct access to system resources. And it’s something that Microsoft has a lot of expertise. This is one of the reasons why he managed to get out of the magic of Xbox 360 emulation on Xbox One.
But Xbox Series X is not about “removing” magic. It is about carefully and meaningfully preserving the Xbox library. The company has already tested the Xbox Series X for over 100,000 hours to ensure a user-friendly and robust experience.
“Many of us in Team Xbox play Xbox Series X on a daily basis as the primary console, and switching between generations is seamless,” writes Ronald. “By the time we kick off this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours to make sure your game library is ready for you to get started immediately.”
How Xbox Series X improves games with backward compatibility
Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games that run on Xbox Series X may also see performance improvements. This is because these games can take advantage of the advanced hardware of the console.
“Backward compatible games run natively on Xbox Series X hardware – running on the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD,” writes Ronald. “No boost mode, no down down, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each backward compatible game. This means that all titles operate at the peak performance for which they were originally designed, much higher performance than games on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more stable frame rates. and rendered at their maximum resolution and visual quality. “
The SSD should also load legacy games much faster than previous Xbox systems. Previous Microsoft consoles loaded games from spinning discs, whether DVDs or hard drives. And this is painfully obsolete in the era of super-fast NVMe drives that send data over large PCIe 4.0 lanes.
Beyond faster processors
But Microsoft doesn’t just force improvements through hardware upgrades. He is also developing more refined techniques to enrich the experience. For example, the Xbox Advanced Technology Group has developed an AI-based HDR reconstruction technique. This adds HDR to games even from the original Xbox – and this has no impact on performance.
This is in addition to techniques such as the Heutchy method and anisotropic filtering. The Heutchy method stores higher resolution game resources for older games in system memory and exchanges them on the fly. Anisotropic filtering, on the other hand, removes artifacts from oblique textures relative to the player’s camera. And the two are returning to Xbox Series X. But Microsoft is incorporating even more stuff into its new generation hardware.
“The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that allow even more titles to work at higher resolutions and image quality while respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators,” writes Ronald . We are also creating entirely new classes of innovations, including the ability to double the frame rate of a selected set of titles from 30 ips to 60 ips or from 60 ips to 120 ips. ”
Build a sustainable library
The backward compatibility work of the Xbox team is an important element in defining Microsoft’s vision for games. The company wants players to build a lasting relationship with their games. Ideally for Microsoft, this means that players will also establish a lasting relationship with their Xbox. Based on this, the Xbox Series X can potentially deepen this connection with services and new versions of games.
If you have this connection to your Xbox, you can take Fortnite with your friends on the system. Or you can subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass. Either way, it’s a benefit to Microsoft as long as you keep returning to its ecosystem.
And with the support of thousands of games, the Xbox Series X strongly advocates for the respect of this relationship.
As for the possibility that Microsoft could add even more games to the backward compatibility program? It’s something he continues to work on.
“Reviving titles from history often presents a complex mix of technical challenges and licensing,” writes Ronald. “But the team is determined to do everything we can to continue to preserve our legacy of collective play.”