At E3 this week, Microsoft officially revealed the Xbox One X, the souped-up Xbox One system formerly known as Project Scorpio. It’s a noted step above PS4 Pro in terms of horsepower, but third-party publishers and developers now find themselves in a position where they have to decide how to approach the improvements that are offered on Xbox One X as compared with PS4 Pro. We learned this week that Destiny 2 will run at 30 FPS on Xbox One X, just as it will on PS4 Pro. But it’s unclear if that framerate is the result of hardware restrictions or because Sony, through its partnership with Activision, would not allow the game to run better on rival hardware.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer joined GameSpot today on our E3 live show to discuss this and much more. Regarding the potential for games’ technical performance to be held back due to such arrangement, he noted that he was not aware of that specifically happening, but he did say he thinks it would be bad for the industry.
“I’m gonna struggle to not get myself in trouble on this one,” he said. “I’ll just say: I don’t know anything about other development deals. You mentioned some things around clauses and stuff that I don’t know anything about. But if anybody was to do a deal to hold back technical innovation on a video game anywhere else, that doesn’t feel good for the industry to me.”
Spencer went on to contrast the approach of securing exclusive content with the way Microsoft now operates. “I’ve said I’m not one who’s a fan of going out and doing deals so that a certain skin isn’t playable on another platform or a different Strike,” he said. “And people will come and say, ‘Hey, you guys did that first with Call of Duty way back in the day.’ I wasn’t in this position when that happened. That’s not me ducking responsibility for it, but I didn’t make that call.
“But the deals that we do now–and you saw our third-party relationships on stage with Shadow of War, with Assassin’s [Creed], you’re not going to hear them say anything about there’s a certain character that’s not playable. And I never go into a situation where I say, ‘You can’t do something that’s possible on another platform’ in order to benefit. I haven’t seen those deals. If that started to happen in the industry, I don’t think that’s a great thing. I don’t know that it has happened.”
Spencer also made it clear he views Xbox One X and what it’s capable of as being on a different level than the consoles currently on the market. “I know right now, the technical capability on Xbox One X is beyond… I look at [PS4] Pro, [PS4] Slim, [Xbox One] S as kind of in one category, and then you’ve got a box, as you said, that can natively do a lot more. Whether developers choose to use the horsepower for framerate, resolution, or just techniques within the frame. I’m not going to dictate that. I’ve heard this: ‘Hey, you should force all games to [run at] 60 [frames per second] or something.’ I’ve never thought forcing the creative process is a way to get great games.”
You’ll be able to watch our full interview with Spencer above shortly. He also discussed console wars, Xbox backwards compatibility, and more. For more on what Microsoft had to share this week, check out our roundup of all the Microsoft press conference news.