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Xbox leader Phil Spencer: 'Project Scorpio' won't force games to use 4K resolution

Microsoft's Xbox leader Phil Spencer says that the company won't force game developers to use the processing power of its upcoming 'Project Scorpio' console to reach 4K resolutions.

The console was first announced at E3 2016 and is due for release in the holiday period of 2017. Microsoft says it will be the most powerful game console ever made, and will allow games to be played natively on 4K TV displays. However, when asked by a fan on Twitter if games would be forced to hit that 4K resolution for "Project Scorpio", Spencer seemed to indicate that was not going to be the case:

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In theory, that means game developers could decide to make a game for "Project Scorpio" but have it run natively at 1080p, but upscale it to 4K. That could allow those games to include some huge upgrades in textures and graphics that would normally not be able to be used in an Xbox One game.

In a live streaming chat on Giant Bomb (opens in new tab) (via Videogamer), Spencer confirmed that he would "absolutely be open" for games made for "Project Scorpio" to use the hardware other than to hit the 4K resolution barrier:

"We're going to talk more specifics about Project Scorpio so we'll get into more of the details," he continued, "but I think creative freedom and how you want to use the power of the box is something that I would support. I came from first-party as you guys know, so putting the right tools in the hands of the best creators is our job as the platform."

29 Comments
  • This sounds amazing, it's what I really want from Scorpio - They can do some much more with the extra power than just bump up the resolution. 1080p @ 60FPS and looking fantastic is the ideal middle ground for me personally. It should be able to look and play as good as a high-end PC does now, just 1.5 years later (That's impressive for a console in my eyes)
  • you dont need a high end pc for 1080p@60fps
  • Tell that to Ark Survival Evolved preview players. Which besides Star Citizen is the only game I think should require Scorpio to run at 1080p. 4K should be moot until we see what devs are capable of with 1080p. There's all kinds of ai, animation, soft and rigid body physics, dolby atmos audio, particle effects for smoke, hair, liquids, cloth that still look like garbage in AAA games.
  • Thank you Phill for clearing that up once again. Yes, I can't wait for games at 4k on a new HDR tv but I'd much more prefer the devs just make some badass visually games than waste remaining horsepower on resolution as priority. I gave up PC gaming for the comfort and reliability of a console a while ago and always on the verge of going back but Scorpio just cleared my mind on the matter :p Either way.. The best result will be that all the damn fanboys from Sony have been full force changing their narrative on console gaming and their visual expectations. Scorpio has already been offering me good times just reading their comments. Thank you
  •  
    I gave up PC gaming for the comfort and reliability of a console
    i cant stop laughing on this and the Sony peasants atm have better games to play
  • Video games!!!
  • IDK what devs would do OTHER than just cram in the bigger textures. Having to support the One and One S will mean that they can't do much in the way if ain't south it circuit without damaging the experience on the older models. Makes me think of how bad Shadow of Mordor was on PS3/360 with the A.I. totally neutered.
  • Developers can be much more creative. I imagine a single player game like Grand Theft Auto on Scorpio could have a better populated city, more lighting effects, more graphic effects, better draw distance, and higher resolution textures. It's like any PC game where you go in and tweak graphic options, only the console game would have those options locked in for each Xbox One model.
  • Yeah, of course devs CAN do it. I'm saying I don't expect them to do things like add more A.I. layers and such.
  • True. (And by AI layer, I'm assuming you mean the developer logic and engine of the game?) The changes will be mostly visual, and that's not a bad thing, especially because Xbox One as it is doesn't seem to be too incapable to support adequate and optimum levels of game AI.
  • Well, when I think of the engine, I think more of the physics of the game. Those might suffer as well, but I'm speaking more to a game like Shadow of Mordor, where the dynamic bosses were left out of the version of the game for the previous generation's consoles. I do think that it's a problem, making it a graphics-only matter. The CPU cores in the Xbox One are really weak, so supporting complex AI on that CPU will be kind of tough. You could see redundancies in Watch Dogs NPCs near the game's end, I assume because they couldn't flesh out the varied characters as much with the mediocre hardware. Whenever hardware is held back by an unwillingness to move on from it, I find that to be a problem. I'm curious to see how the Scorpio console is built, because of this. Having to live in a reality where the Jaguar-based CPU of the XB1 is supported could mean that the only added resources are on the memory and GPU side. They could skimp on the CPU, sadly. Hopefully they get a Zen-based console, and phase out XB1 support over time. I get not wanting to leave people feeling burned after 3-4 years, but they also can't go and leave a bunch of horsepower unused with Scorpio to support consoles built in 2013 on 2011 hardware.
  • That's what I was hoping for. I couldn't care less about 4k. But the probability of having highly improved visuals/effects is something I'm looking forward to.
  • Makes sense. I mean, what they ARE forcing developers to do is support regular HD resolutions, so it makes no sense for any game to only support 4K.
  • instead of Leader you need to say "Xbox Boss"..... :)
  • While all this new hardware and power excites me, I feel that by next Xmas these specs will already be outdated. This additional gpu power is great if it were released today. But in 1.5 yrs from now we'll already have a GTX 1090Ti pushing much more than the Scorpio's custom gpu. Sure, it's great that it may have the upper hand on Sony's PS Neo but we won't be much closer to PC graphics. Though one piece of good news is this time gap will allow for the price to drop drastically meaning we shouldn't have to pay $700 - $800 for this. We should be able to still keep it in the $400 - $500 range.
  • This is not a problem, it's actually quite 'normal' for consoles to lag high end PC graphics. And frankly, 1080 is still pretty damn good if you asked me, heck I still play many X360 games and they look good to my eyes. 4K is just icing on the cake, but solid 1080 60fps is still beautiful. I would prefer developers go crazy with 1080 60fps using the Scorpio. Of course 4K is an added bonus if it's available, but I can still live without it for the next few years...
  • you dont need a GTX 109x even the old gen of 9xx and 7xx can already beat Scorpio
  • Wrong. Even the 980Ti doesn't hit 6 TFLOPS. There's no 7xx series GPU that's anywhere close to Scorpio's power. 
  • cuase the 6 TFLOPS will make it an amazing card we already see the 7xx series playing 4K
  • A flagship GPU isn't a phone that is commoditized enough to be owned by tens of millions of users. Less than PC 20% of gamers will be running GPUs that will be more powerful than Scorpio when it hits.  6TFLOPS GPUs won't be outdated for quite a while to come. There will be more powerful GPUs out there, but those will be owned by a mnority of PC gamers.
  • Hopefully some devs go for 1440p and 60fps along with some upgraded visuals. The scorpio is nearly 5 times as powerful as the original and 1440p is 1.78 times the resolution as 1080p. 
  • Agreed. 1440p/60 would be idea.
  • I want 1080p/120
  • I support this idea completely. While 4K would be nice, I would much rather have 1080p 60fps with really amazing textures and effects. That being said, if 4K resolution can be hit without sacrificing texture and effect quality, then that would just be amazing!
  • That is of course great news!! I really hope they put more of a focus on frame rate over resolution. Ultimately 4k and at least 60fps would be ideal as long as you don't have to sacrifice the visual effects to get that performance - things like Shadow quality, lighting, textures etc and don't suffer pop-in, screen tearing and most importantly frame rate drops. I certainly have my doubts that the 'quality' of the visuals and effects will be great at 4k - after all the GTX1080 can't manage 4k/60 with 9tflops. Like I said though, I would prefer 1440/60 to 4k/30. I wuld rather have 1080p with all the effects turned right up to max/ultra levels than 1440 with these on low/off as long as 60fps is the 'minimum'. As any true gamer knows, frame rate - particularly stable/locked is more important than the 'native' resolution. I don't understand why the Scorpio is not releasing until late 2017. During E3, Phil Spencer said they wnted to give developers time BUT we had already seen Forza Horizon 3 running at 4k on a PC. I fully expect that ALL games releasing - including all of MS's exclusives will be runningat 4k on a PC so why can't these be ported to the Scorpio from October 2016 - if rumours are true, Sony expects developers to add a 'Neo' version into games from October. Is it because MS want to sell the Slim after putting in all that R&D and manufacturing and fear it won't sell in sufficient numbers if its also competing with a more powerful Xbox? I do have concerns about the Scorpio and the way the briefing explained it - especially after some of the E3 interviews too. This is just a 4k XB1? So does that mean it will be limited to games/content that must run on an XB1 too? Will games/hardware etc that really struggle to run on the XB1 adequately be 'released' just to get a Scorpio release? Does that mean VR and the rumoured Oculus Rift (or equivalent) will be available on XB1 even if the experience is awful? Will the Scorpio be limited/restricted to frame rates that the XB1 runs at? For example if a game runs at 30fps (co-op/MP) on the XB1m will it be locked to 30fps on the Scorpio? even though the PC version could run at 60fps+? By the time this comes out, the XB1 will be 4yrs old and already has games at 720p and games that would be much better running at 60fps but struggle to maintain 30fps - even at 900p - admittedly 3rd party but I don't see Battlefield 1 running above 720/60 and with Fog/Gas maybe even having frame rate drops. Mirrors Edge too is only 720/60, Dark Souls 3 900/30 etc so in a few years, we could see games dropping to 720/30, and that's with low visual settings too. If Star Wars Battlefront 2 runs at 720/30, will the Scorpio be restricted to 30fps too? Being told not to buy it if you own an XB1 but not a 4k TV was NOT what I wanted to hear - especially from a console launching that late in the current gen lifecycle. I can understand that all XB1 content would run on the Scorpio in a similar way to XB360 games running on the XB1 but I would expect that some games/content/experiences etc would be unique to the Scorpio - such as VR. I expected the Scorpio as effectively the 4th gen Xbox - not an intermediate XB1 - especially as Phil Spencer said MS were not interested in intermediate steps. It would also explain the Q4 2017 release schedule. I can see the XB1 getting the same games (non-VR) for a year or so, but what happens if developers create a game that just won't run on the XB1? will that come to Scorpio or will MS bring out a 'new' gen console thats not regarded as a 4k XB1 even though that game could run on Scorpio? It seems a 'waste' to restrict it to and lable it as just an 4k XB1 and release it so late in the XB1's life cycle. Should I therefore wait for the inevitable XB1 replacement? Build my own 4k PC, plug that into my 4K tv and connect my Elite controller and play ALL the XB1 exclusive (and 3rd Party multi-platform) games releasing at 4k? AMD RX 480's in SLI costs less than £400 and better than the 1080 or go for the 1070 at £375 and run 1440/60+ upscaled...   As excited and pleased I was to hear that Scorpio was a 'real' item and confirmed to be 'powerful' as far as 'current' consoles are concerned, I am very disappointed to learn its not out for 18months and will be nothing more than essentially a 4k XB1 rather than a 'new' console and free of the limitations/restrictions that being an 'iterative' console would incur - especially as the Neo/PSVR are expected this winter giving Sony and gamers a massive headstart. I know the Neo may not be as powerful but it will benefit gamers for a year before the Scorpio. Buy the Neo to play all games over the next year at 1080p+, more stable and hopefully higher frame rates, access to VR or wait a whole year having to put up with 720/900p and low/unstable frame rates until the Scorpio comes out - MS you are certainly pushing gamers patience...
  • Just to be clear, my post won't address all of your points, but a couple of major ones I think I'll hit... 1) The reason Scorpio is 18 months away is because the hardware that will be powering it hasn't been finalized yet.  The GPU is assumed to be a Vega-, NOT a Polaris, -based one due to the 6TF number. I wouldn't be surprised if the final number is actually higher due to the timeline and further newer hardware selection/optimization/shrinkage/component cost, etc.  As it stands, they're most likely doing measurements on prototype hardware, but at this point in time, they final GPU doesn't exist as a buildable and usable component. 2)  Going forward, JUST like PC, we'll most likely see a top-down development approach for games.  This means that developers will target their 'dream' resolution and framerate first, meaning 4k and 60 FPS.  To make it work for the Xbox One, and then Slim, they'll use scalable resolution features to maintain 60 FPS (this would make it as easy as possible for them to hit their targets).  On the other hand, they could also manually tweak which effects won't be available on the lower model boxes, without sacrificing the framerate.  In fact, this is pretty much how it currently works for PC due to the disparity of hardware in the PC landscape.  That was what Phil Spencer was stating as well, that this method is nothing new to seasoned developers anyway. 3) With regards to the head start that the Neo will get due to the timeline, you have to remember that Sony fans are feeling a bit burnt by the necessity to upgrade in order to get just a decent PSVR experience.  This will set them back the cost of the Neo console, whatever that ends up being, PLUS a minimum of $399 for the least expensive PSVR bundle, assuming they want that decent VR experience (apparently the cost is higher if you have to also buy the camera and sticks).  From what I've read, even that experience at E3 was mediocre, at best.  The specs of Neo aren't significantly higher than the baseline PS4, whereas the specs of Scorpio blow it out of the water.  While Sony may go back to the drawing board, if the assumption is correct that they were planning on releasing for Holiday 2016, scrapping the systems that have ALREADY been built would cost them hundreds of millions, money that Sony DOES NOT HAVE lying around to burn.  Basically, they can't just change the specs in such a short timeline without it costing them dearly.  Building up a console from planning to physical hardware production is, at minimum, upwards of 18 months to 2 years of work and money spent.  So the general assumption is that they'll release the Neo, with minor software tweaks post-release, this Holiday, with no change in hardware to try to reach Scorpio performance specs. Hope that answers a couple of your questions!
  • LOL...They are already backtracking.... overpromising and underdelivering as always.
  • comprehension my friend, you lack one.
  • Until it's released and Games are FORCED to use 4K resolution.