Arguably the most important spec bump that the Xbox one X brings to the table is not the 6 TFLOP GPU, but the 12GB of GDDR5 RAM- the unified pool of usable RAM is far higher on the Xbox One X than it is on any other console currently on the market, and should theoretically end up having an impact in terms of the baseline memory requirements for console game development.
I say theoretically because install base considerations, as well as the existence of gaming PCs, which have had higher memory than consoles for a very long time now, kind of make the advantages offered by the Xbox One X a bit moot. And indeed, most developers we have talked to have cited those very reasons for why the Xbox One X’s extra memory might not influence game development that much going forward.
Philipp Döschl of FDG Entertainment, the folks behind Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, feels similarly- there hasn’t been enough time to adapt to the new spec, and a lot of smaller developers won’t be able to keep up with the resources needed to fully utilize higher end machines. Plus, he points out, the install base consideration still applies.
“I doubt it’ll have a big impact as we all need time to adapt (customers as developers alike). Of course the bigger devs will make use of the additional memory,” he said.
“As for graphics, the more details you show, the longer it takes to create them, which makes the production costs go higher and it needs more time. Smaller studios will not be able to afford this.
“It’s natural that games look better year by year and that they demand more resources, yet the tools used need to be ready for that too. And last but not least, there has to be an installed hardware base that’s big enough to justify the amount of additional work.”
I can’t disagree with him- and more than anything else, it is this that makes me despair the lack of meaningful exclusives from Microsoft for Xbox. While third parties are unlikely to ever fully plumb the extent of what the Xbox One X is capable of, Microsoft commissioned exclusives could have shown off what the system is capable of had they existed, much like Naughty Dog games, or Zelda, do for their competitors.
Stay tuned for our full interview with Philipp Döschl in the coming days.