One of the biggest selling points of the Xbox One X is Microsoft’s relentless pursuit in ensuring games receive enhancements for the console. These include resolutions upto 4K, improved frame rate, and HDR support. Xbox One X enhancements aren’t restricted to new games. Even last generation Xbox 360 titles receive enhancements for the Xbox One X, usually seeing a resolution bump to 4K. These include Red Dead Redemption, The Witcher 2, and Crackdown among others. Xbox Platform Lead Bill Stillwell explained the effort that goes into backward compatibility and adding Xbox One X enhancements on top of that.
“We’re having to constantly tune the emulator to make it more precise, but every time you make it more precise, you make it less powerful. The enhancements are a lot of work because we really have to go back and tune the performance profile so there’s no change in the gameplay experience. And we don’t do half measures,” said Stillwell in conversation with Edge magazine (via Wccftech).
He also let slip how Microsoft Engineer Eric Heutchy first devised how Xbox 360 games could get a massive resolution jump when on the Xbox One X.
“We’d just got our first set of devkits in; they were just boards sitting on a mat. Eric started tinkering and said, ‘Okay, I’ve got a lot more power in Xbox One X. What could I do to a 360 game?’ He took what we had done for the Xbox Originals games and applied it to Halo 3 first. We were like, ‘Holy cow – this looks like a brand-new game’,” he said.
In addition to this, Stillwell divulged some of the finer points of the backwards compatibility process — the need to deal with music licenses for games from a generation that were negotiated before streaming games was commonplace.
“Music licenses are often written for either a distributor or a user. In the Xbox 360 days, streaming was just about non-existent; publishers bought the user license because it was cheaper. But Xbox One has GameDVR and Game Broadcast built into the system, so when they go, ‘Oh, we’re gonna release this on backward compatibility on a console that broadcasts’, they look at their contract and they can’t do it – the license prohibits it. The legal elements of this are as big an issue as the technical ones.” he said.
Nonetheless, the team’s efforts haven’t gone in vain. Even in emerging markets like India, backwards compatibility and Xbox One X enhancements are valuable features opined Priyadarshi Mohapatra, Country General Manager, Consumer and Devices Sales at Microsoft India in an interview with Gadgets 360 earlier in the year.
“They can decide whether they want to be on the Xbox One," he said . "They want to move to the One S, or they want to move to the Xbox One X platform by the way whenever they decide, all the investment is protected. Nothing goes waste. I think that's being one of the strongest differentiator for us.”
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