Microsoft’s weaker console platform, the Xbox Series S has been in the news recently after Gotham Knights was reportedly capped at 30FPS due to some compatibility restrictions on the console. While the developer behind the game has yet to confirm this, Rocksteady senior character and technical artist Lee Devonald said earlier this week that trade-offs need to be made during game development due to the lack of power in the Xbox Series S.
His now-deleted tweets said:
“I wish gamers understood what 60fps means, in terms of all of the things they *lose* to make the game run that fast. Especially taking into account that we have a current-gen console that’s not much better than a last gen one.”
Devonald followed up by responding to a question from a fan saying that the Xbox Series S is the lowest performer and that games need to be optimised for this console. He said that there’s an entire generation of games that are being held back but the “potato” Xbox Series S.
After the news went public, more people jumped into the debate about whether or not the Xbox Series S is holding games back. Things don’t sound good at all for the console as it seems that developers are now begging Microsoft to drop the mandatory launch requirements for the hardware.
In a series of Tweets (also now deleted), VFX artist Ian Maclure responded to journalist Jeff Gerstmann who said that this whole debate about whether or not the Series S is holding back games is nonsense.
Maclure seems to have quite a lot of experience with developing games. He has worked on Surgeon Simulator and I Am Fish at Bossa. He says that the team have been sitting in meetings for the past year desperately trying to get Series S launch requirements dropped. He said:
“Studios have been through one development cycle where Series S turned out to be an albatross around the neck of production, and now that games are firmly being developed with new consoles in mind, teams do not want to repeat the process,”
This is not the first time we have heard about hardware limitations affecting game development in the industry. Earlier this year, Digital Foundry’s Alexander Battaglia claimed to have heard from sources that the memory constraints on the Xbox Series S are a “pain” to work with. He claimed that the CPU and GPU aren’t the problem. Instead, devs are having a rough time with memory.
Microsoft will likely never drop the launcher requirements for the Xbox Series S meaning that all developers making games for the more powerful Xbox Series X will also have to work on an Xbox Series S version until the generation is over. We are only two years into the cycle and already things don’t look good.