You want your 60 frames-per-second and your 1,080 lines of resolution in your games, and Microsoft is doing whatever it can to make that happen.
The company released the latest update to the Xbox One development kit today, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that it gives developers more access to the device’s graphics-processing unit (GPU). This means, theoretically, that the people making games on the new console can squeeze out better performance. That may manifest as a higher resolution, a better framerate, or a difference so small you might not even notice it.
The Xbox One, while a capable machine, has had several multiplatform games run at a lower resolution or framerate than their PlayStation 4 counterparts. While the difference is difficult to see with the naked eye, many people tend to favor the product that is capable of producing the slightly better graphics when everything else is equal.
In addition to the GPU bandwidth, Spencer tweeted that studios will have new tools and more “flexibility” to “make games better.”
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for more details, and we’ll update this post with any new information.
Last month, Microsoft revealed that it would start selling the Xbox One for $400 without the Kinect camera that has come bundled with every system since it debuted in November. That peripheral requires some of the console’s processing power, but Spencer did not specify if that’s where this new bandwidth is coming from.
The Xbox One is playing catch up. Sony’s PlayStation 4 has outsold Microsoft’s box since November. As of April, the PS4 was at 7 million units sold worldwide while Microsoft has only shipped 5 million to retail (which means it’s sold even less to consumers). It doesn’t say how many of those were actually sold. To keep up, Microsoft is adding features and dropping the price to create parity. If it can get multiplatform games to run closer to the framerates and resolutions of those on the PS4, this could help it sell more systems.
Both Sony and Microsoft are preparing to unveil a number of new games at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow next week. While the Xbox One is getting updates now, Microsoft is expecting that its lineup of new games will make the biggest difference in the end. Sony expects the same.