Microsoft wants to use machine learning to improve poor game textures

Xbox Project xCloud
Xbox Project xCloud (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is launching a next-generation console in Holiday 2020.
  • A game streaming service called "Project xCloud" is also in public trials.
  • The company is experimenting with machine learning to improve low-resolution textures.
  • It's unclear if this technology will make its way to Project xCloud or other systems anytime soon.

Microsoft is always experimenting with new ideas and recently, we learned of something quite radical PlayFab is doing. According to an interview between Microsoft Game Stack General Manager James Gwertzman and VentureBeat, the company is using machine learning (ML) to improve low-resolution textures in real time. You can read what he said below.

You were talking about machine learning and content generation. I think that's going to be interesting. One of the studios inside Microsoft has been experimenting with using ML models for asset generation. It's working scarily well. To the point where we're looking at shipping really low-res textures and having ML models uprez the textures in real time. You can't tell the difference between the hand-authored high-res texture and the machine-scaled-up low-res texture, to the point that you may as well ship the low-res texture and let the machine do it... Like literally not having to ship massive 2K by 2K textures. You can ship tiny textures... The download is way smaller, but there's no appreciable difference in game quality. Think of it more like a magical compression technology. That's really magical. It takes a huge R&D budget. I look at things like that and say — either this is the next hard thing to compete on, hiring data scientists for a game studio, or it's a product opportunity. We could be providing technologies like this to everyone to level the playing field again.

If this technology makes its way to "Project xCloud," it could be a game-changer. However, only time will tell. What do you want to see Microsoft do with its next-generation products? Let us know.

Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.