Xbox One S and X Will Download Different Game Assets

Posted on June 27, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 17 Comments

Xbox One S and X Will Download Different Game Assets

Here’s some good news for Xbox One S owners: You won’t be saddled with massive, 4K-compatible game downloads when the Xbox One X ships. Instead, Microsoft will make different versions of game downloads available for the Xbox One X and non-4K consoles.

“With the launch of Xbox One X, when it comes to game content our intention is to download the correct assets to the correct console,” a Microsoft statement to game fanboy site Stevivor explains. “This means, regardless of the TV you are playing on, 4K assets will be downloaded to Xbox One X (if available) and the standard 1080p assets will be downloaded to an Xbox One S.”

This is important.

4K assets will be significantly bigger than the normal 1080p assets, resulting in massively bigger and slower downloads. And those assets would otherwise take up far more space than is warranted on our already-stuffed Xbox One and Xbox One S hard drives.

And these assets aren’t just graphical, Microsoft notes.

“As part our developer readiness for Xbox One X, we have made available a feature which will give them significant flexibility when it comes to what gets installed on a user’s console,” the statement continues. “In addition to 4K-specific assets, developers have options when it comes to language specific assets as well, which depending on the title, can drastically reduce the install footprint. This ability to intelligently install the best assets for each console and language are available on all Xbox One devices, and it will be up to the developer of the game to determine the specific implementation.”

That is fantastic news.

Thanks to OnMSFT for the heads-up.


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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Xbox One S and X Will Download Different Game Assets”

  1. webdev511

    Well DUH. Why would you download 4k assets if you can only play them at 1080p? Hopefully compression will help make the S downloads more reasonable. IF/WHEN I get an X, I think I'll be buying disc based games for a while. Comcast has opted to put download caps in my area and we already bump up against it on a regular basis. Nothing like using 10% of your cap for one game.

  2. Minok

    So if you purchase an XBox One X for use on a 1080P display, to take advantage of the other features the new console provides, your still going to get the 4k content? That seems wastefull. Why not let the console owner configure for what content they want?

    • Tommy

      In reply to Minok:

      ...until the console owner upgrades to a 4K TV. The owner then has to re-download all their games for new 4K assets, which then has its own set of issues (migrating from one version to another, etc).

      Also, the majority of console owners never take a deep dive into their settings. Inevitably, some user is going to set up 1080p asset downloads on their Xbox One X connected to a 4K TV and will wonder why their game doesn't look as good. Might as well target per-console versus per-display-resolution for simplicity sake.

    • nbates66

      In reply to Minok:

      well, "4K content" in this case would also refer to high resolution texture assets the Xbox One X can handle that the Xbox One S can't, these textures could still make for a visual benefit even when running at 1080P, so they probably best figured that it's simplest to keep asset size to match the console than to try and add in more options and have people complain about why they got "small tv" assets on their expensive new console because they configured something improperly.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Minok:

      I think that may start getting complicated for a game console, unless maybe the system knows it's connected to a 1080P TV and adjusts accordingly. However, the console is also very portable, so if your buddy just picked up a 70" UHD TV, you may be tempted to haul your Xbox One X over there to kick the tires.

  3. zybch

    And the ignorant and biased (paid off) gaming media is doing its level best to spin this negatively.

    The only thing that annoys me about this whole thing 9apart from the lies and smears from the media) is that a 1Tb drive simply is nowhere near large enough, even for the games I currently own that will be getting 4K One X updates. Sure, I can plug in external drives, but I'd much rather pay $150-$200 more for the console to have a 4Tb drive internally.

  4. Darekmeridian

    This might explain why my XBox One S just spun itself up like an hour ago and just started downloading Halo Wars Updates?

  5. Darmok N Jalad

    Has something like this been done before? As far as I know, game installs on PCs are the same regardless of hardware, and how the game is presented is managed through settings. I guess the concerns will be how developers implement this strategy, if performance or quality will begin to suffer on the original console, and if they will even be interested in the complexities of managing two versions of a game on the same platform. Considering just how bad some major studios can be at fixing bugs, I fear this may not be something they will care to do (at least very well) until One X has more way more marketshare than Xbox One. I'm curious how developers feel about this, but I guess time will tell.

    • Jeremy Turnley

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      It's not unheard of. In recent years, high res packs as separate downloads have become more and more common for PC games. There's no point in downloading 12GB of extra textures if your computer can only run the game at medium settings, and with many ISPs having fairly low bandwidth caps it's detrimental to customers to have them download more than they can use.

      The process for developers is actually a LOT simpler on console iterations (PS4 Pro and Xbox One X) than it is on PCs. For consoles, they just need to have two texture packs and two optimized game settings, vs PC games often having multiple pages of graphics options to tune in order to get the most out of your system. In many cases in this generation of consoles, developers often start with the PC version and work backwards to the consoles or work completely in parallel on all 3 since it can be done efficiently, vs the in the PS3/XB360 days they would make the console version and then port it to the PC for simplicity and cost savings. This base commonality also makes it feasible to move games that would not have been possible to move to consoles before, such as some of the larger MMOs.

      That's why this generation's games tend to be a lot less buggy - there's far less QA needed since the code and assets are mostly the same, and patching efforts on one platform often carry over to the others. The PC platform is often the guinea pig for patching, then they make whatever mods need to be made for the consoles from that work.

      • Narg

        In reply to Jeremy Turnley:

        I wouldn't call it "recent" as high res packs for PC games have been around a very long time actually.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to Jeremy Turnley:

        Thanks! I guess this may end up a good thing long term if they can continue to successfully target both the old and new consoles. I wonder what will happen when the next generation arrives. I'm assuming we'll be seeing something based on Zen and Vega, since no one else looks able produce an APU with as much GPU and CPU power. I'm honestly surprised that Jaguar can do as well as it does in these first 4 consoles.

        • Jeremy Turnley

          In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

          That's assuming there even IS a next generation. MS and Sony have made rumblings about just doing what they are doing now - iterating faster hardware and OS upgrades into the same console family. From a cost perspective, it's a lot cheaper to keep the same engine than going back to the drawing board every time, and you will never have to worry about spending money to develop backwards compatibility or new peripherals, you just iterate all those as well. There's no reason to even phase out old consoles as they upgrade the hardware, they can just make the new games run at lower and lower settings like PC games work on older PCs.

          As for Zen and Vega, as long as they stick with x86 for the CPU AMD will be the golden child for consoles - they are the only company that has the ability to make a single chip APU solution powerful enough to do what a modern console needs to do. nVidia has some good solutions - I have a Shield box and it's pretty incredible for its size and power usage - but they are using ARM for their CPUs so moving to them as a whole would need a whole new platform again. (Unless they use x86 emulation on ARM like they are planning to do on Windows 10 later this year.) Intel has basically been resting on its laurels for the last decade and is not cost effective in a console, nor is their GPU tech anywhere near up to the level of AMD and nVidia, even in the low end.

          What amazes me about the One X is that it can do native 4k 60fps for that price and still look as good as it does. In order to get decent 4k/60 on a PC, you need to spend as much on the GPU alone as the One X costs. I know that optimization for the platform is the key to how they pull it off, but it's still pretty awesome.

  6. olavgm

    So, I have an external hard drive on my Xbox One S. What happens once I get the One X and plug it there? Do the assets get downloaded? What if I bring back the hard drive to the S?

    • Stooks

      In reply to olavgm:

      I would imagine it will update the games as you use them. If you did not open a game on the X then it would probably not get the update. I am just guessing.

      That said moving back and forth from a S to an X and back again is a use case that probably will fit into the 1% category. Once I move my external SSD drive to my X it wont be going back.

  7. gumbyjunior1

    I am sorry to say that there is a huge point being lost here. It takes forever to download games because the games are (in a Trump voice) "HUUUGEE".

    Take Halo 5 for starters - 97 GB!

    I am running the 500 GB model X Box 1.

    I really find it shocking that games these days have to be this huge!

    They should really find ways to compress/shrink/re-code/optimize these games. It really should not be that hard to get done.

    Once that is figured out - then talk to me about the 4K enhancements. It really should just be one software package a game to reduce the need of worrying about what console version you are on.

    I worry how they will roll out the Original Xbox games later this year - hoping they keep it as simple as how the XBOX 360 had them running.

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