Today, during the live version of the Major Nelson Radio podcast from PAX West in Seattle, Xbox and Windows Platform Head Mike Ybarra and Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry Hryb answered a few questions about the Xbox ecosystem.
First of all, we hear from Ybarra that the base architecture between Xbox One X and Xbox One S is very similar, so developers are going to keep squeezing the most out of Xbox One S that they can, and then all the optimizations will be applied on the higher power of the Xbox One X. Developers are going to keep optimizing over time, and this is going to be incremental on top of the power of the console.
Microsoft made “very purposeful decisions” on what hardware to put in the Xbox One X to make sure that the “developer path was smooth,” and that we’re going to get the ramp up that you normally see later in the life time of a console.
We also hear that keyboard and mouse support for Xbox One is “definitely coming.” A lot of the decisions will be left to developers, but Microsoft will coach them into thinking about multiplayer, and the fact that with competitive multiplayer gamers are going to want to have the choice to play with people using the same control option or everyone. The first games supporting keyboard and mouse are gonna come “soon.” (Update: later he clarified on Twitter that he was talking about Minecraft.)
Ybarra then talked about store features like gifting and wish list. One is coming “very soon” and the other is on the list of things that need to be implemented.
Asked about cross-play, he explained that Xbox has a great relationship with Nintendo, and that’s going to “hopefully drive further,” and any developer who wants to enable cross-play because they want to give their players a larger multiplayer pool should give Microsoft a call, because they want to bring gamers together and make it easier for them to play any game across the network. They’re “all in.”
Funnily, Hryb looked into the camera and encouraged Sony to give them a call on the topic.
Ybarra explained that some developers are looking to provide with the Xbox One X options to choose between resolution and frame rate, and he thinks that we’ll see more of that happen as they “open up the door to flexibility in terms of what the users want.” That being said, it’s up to the developers, and Microsoft has an organization that works directly with them to optimize for whatever settings they want, and there is a lot of interest in giving users options.
Microsoft is investing “heavily” in more voice controls, improving Cortana and bringing her to more locations, expanding what she can do, and her AI capabilities.
Xbox One X pre-orders have been made available a few days ago on August 20th, and they sold out almost everywhere. Luckily, a second wave will be coming soon. The console will cost $499, and will release on November 7th. New UI features and modes were showcased earlier today.
If you want to read more about Microsoft’s strategy for the new console and muchmore, you can check out our recent interview with Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg.