Xbox Boss Talks Xbox One’s Cloud, Backwards Compatibility and Gives a Honest Answer on DirectX 12

on October 8, 2014 4:56 PM

Microsoft’s Xbox Division head honcho Phil Spencer was interviewed by the good folks at The Inner Circle podcast, and he had a lot to say about the future of Xbox One, starting with the promise that he’s listening to feedback on Backwards Compatibility:

Back compat is always a hot topic at the turn of a generation, and I get why, especially on 360 so many people bought so much digital content and it means that a lot of us are holding on to our 360s. I get the question. I totally respect the question. There’s nothing I can say now, but I’ll just say “I hear you.” I definitely hear you and I’ll continue to try to work to build something that can help people out.

He then moved on to talk about the cloud, explaining what we can expect from the technology as it gets gradually adopted by developers and admitting that communicating it better with gamers may be a good idea:

On cloud, and I don’t know, people always make fun of me when I say cloud, I need to come up with another word (laughs). Just like with dedicated servers and people playing multiplayer, but people don’t think of that as cloud because everybody does it, and I get that, but I think I looked at a stat the other day, and I bet it’s gonna be 34 to 40% of the games live this holidays are gonna be using the cloud technology that we put out in some way.

When you look at something like crackdown, you’re picking up something that’s trying to jump a leap ahead and do some things that people haven’t done before. Titanfall did some of this with the AI stuff that they did. […] Halo 5 is gonna be something that’s obviously making use of the technology.

In any kind of these technologies, you kind of do a little on the techology platform side, then you get some studio to try to use the tech, they tell you what’s working and what’s not working, the platform makes more progress, and you kinda iterate over time. […] Definitely from first party and third party we’re seeing more and more people look at the technology that we’re putting out there and use it. Maybe we should think about how to talk about it with consumers better.

Finally, he gave a very straightforward answer on DirectX 12, that some¬†touted as some miracle tech¬†that somehow doubled the power of the Xbox One’s GPU, a view that Spencer doesn’t hesitate to curb with refreshing honesty:

On the DX12 question, I was asked early on by people if DX12 is gonna dramatically change the graphics capabilities of Xbox One and I said it wouldn’t. I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade, but the CPU, GPU and memory that are on Xbox One don’t change when you go to DX12. DX12 makes it easier to do some of the things that Xbox One’s good at, which will be nice and you’ll see improvement in games that use DX12, but people ask me if it’s gonna be dramatic and I think I answered no at the time and I’ll say the same thing.

Yet, Spencer explained that it’ll ease development especially for those working on both PC and Xbox One, since the API will make using the hardware on both platforms easier. He also mentioned that developers will get better at using DirectX 12 over time, and we’ll see a continuous increase in the fidelity of the games like it happened with Xbox 360.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.