Xbox Has a Two-Year Console Exclusive on Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (Updated)

Posted on June 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Games, PlayStation, Xbox, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X with 23 Comments

UPDATE: Microsoft provided the following quote about this issue:

“A blog post was mistakenly published by a local Xbox team that included inaccurate information regarding exclusivity of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X|S. There is no exclusivity agreement of either tech on Xbox. We are proud to partner with Dolby to offer Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision to gamers on Xbox and will have more to share about the general availability of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X|S soon.” – a Microsoft spokesperson

Sony PlayStation 5 can’t. And Nintendon’t. And that’s because Microsoft has a two-year console exclusive on Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

News of this exclusivity comes via Engadget, which reported that the French version of the Xbox Wire Blog published a post that mentioned this fact. That post, alas, has disappeared.

But the exclusive has not: Where Xbox Series X|S users support both Dolby Vision, an advanced form of HDR, and Dolby Atmos, which provides immersive 3D sound that goes beyond surround sound, the PlayStation 5 series and Nintendo Switch do not.

Of course, there are some caveats.

Dolby Vision HDR for gaming is only in very early testing on Xbox Series X/S, so it probably won’t appear for most users until late this year. And Dolby Atmos requires a $15 fee, though Xbox Wireless Headset buyers will get that for free through the end of September.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Xbox Has a Two-Year Console Exclusive on Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (Updated)”

  1. crunchyfrog

    If I'm reading this correctly, Dolby Vision for streaming is already built in but gaming will come later? Do you pay the $15 fee at some point or is it already baked into the console price?

  2. webdev511

    We have Dolby Vision & Atmos on a console that is out of stock everywhere. At least this isn't going to drive demand...

    • nbplopes

      Been enjoying this for quite a few months now on all Apple devices. Apple TV UI itself defaults to Dolby Vision, if the TV is capable off, case in case my LG C9 from 2019. Next month comes Dolby Atmos audio support on Apple Music. Netflix, Apple TV+ … plenty of Dolby Vision & Atmos content.


      Outside this, its a mess. In Windows we need to download a separate app on the App Store, console wars mean for XBOX only for a couple years … geezzz.

    • rm

      It can drive future demand.

  3. davidjhupp

    As another commenter pointed out, Apple TV also has Atmos and Dolby Vision, and Apple TV runs games. While Apple doesn't seem particularly interested in pushing Apple TV to be a serious console competitor, the Apple TV does have real games, including the Apple Arcade subscription service, and can be used with either an Xbox or Playstation controller.


    I recall that the question of "what is a console" came up in the licensing of Tetris in the late 1980s. Atari had licensed Tetris from the original Soviet rightsholder and thought that the license covered Nintendo. Nintendo found a loophole in the license and ultimately Atari's NES Tetris had to be recalled and destroyed.


    I think this is somewhat similar to Microsoft's ostensible Dolby "exclusive" for consoles, which is only the case if you narrowly define "console." If Apple put a beefier SoC in the Apple TV and started selling it with a real controller, would that violate Microsoft's exclusive license for Atmos and Dolby Vision?


    Clearly the exclusive does not currently exclude Apple TV, and it would be very hard for Microsoft to challenge Apple's use of Atmos and Dolby Vision if Apple suddenly started seriously competing with consoles through the Apple TV platform.

    • lvthunder

      They might be able to tell Apple you can't use Atmos and Vision for the games on AppleTV. I believe it's just the content that can use it on Apple TV. I don't think there are API's to use it, but I could be wrong.

      • davidjhupp

        I was thinking about this. I don't know if Atmos and Dolby Vision on Apple TV are limited to video content or if they are open to all apps on the platform. Given that many of the streaming apps are developed and maintained by third parties, and that tvOS games are developed using the same SDK as these streaming apps, I assume that Atmos and Dolby Vision are just generally available on the platform. With the kind of scrutiny that Apple receives, we would have heard if tvOS game developers were artificially restricted from using Atmos and Dolby Vision. The only other way it could be restricted would be if the Atmos and Dolby Vision support were specifically tied to the decoding APIs for video playback/streaming and not generally otherwise available, but I haven't heard anything about that either way. My guess is that Microsoft's "exclusivity" simply doesn't consider Apple TV to be a "console" for the purposes of that exclusivity, and that the exclusivity agreement is specifically crafted to exclude Nintendo, Playstation, and perhaps Stadia.

  4. slerched

    Keep in mind that no console can do Dolby Vision for UHD BDs, which is kinda stupid.

    Basically means if you want the best possible picture for UHD BDs, you have to invest in a player that offers Dolby Vision.


    My old PS3 could do all flavors of regular BD but no modern console can offer all the capabilities in one box for UHD BD.

    • thretosix

      Correct if I'm not mistaken all streamed Dolby Vision titles LLDV (low latency Dolby Vision). You need a dedicated 4K blu-ray player that supports the the full Dolby Vision bandwidth. The problem is the players run starting price around $500 and the physical media market is shrinking.


      As far as these consoles are concerned I'm pretty sure that the Xbox will be using LLDV for gaming as well.


      I've watched a few movies on Disney+ in Dolby Vision and they look great. I don't feel the need to spend extra money on a dedicated player, then have to buy the physical media. There are people out there that will though. I just don't want to throw money at it and keep up with the industry for the next iteration which is probably the 8K market. Most movies I watch once or twice and that's it.

  5. nbplopes

    Dolby Vision & Atmos on Apple TV, iPad s … Apple TV+, Netflix so on and so forth. Als

  6. MutualCore

    So what, Nintendo doesn't care about specs and Sony has Tempest Engine. Seems like a very tiny victory for Xbox.

  7. dragonwyntir

    Dolby Vision is baked into the price of the console, and you get Dolby Atmos for Home Theater for free. Dolby Atmos for Headphones is a charge.

    • sandeepm

      That would make more sense. Same as on Windows, Dolby Atmos is built-in and works with any Atmos capible preprocessor, and you only need to pay if you want to use the Atmos Virtualization app for Headphones

  8. jgraebner

    It is really weird that Dolby keeps making these exclusive deals for systems that you would think they would want to become defacto standards. They made a similar deal with AMC for movie theaters, though.

  9. kshsystems

    There is a dolby atmos store app, that was also available to previous generation XBOX systems. is this what the article refers to? or is this native to the XBOX OS platform some how?

  10. MoopMeep

    How does Atmos compare with Tempest?

    • MutualCore

      Apparently Tempest has way more capabilities than Dolby Atmos. So Sony has the superior tech.

      • thretosix

        Please explain how, your post doesn't make sense.

      • thretosix

        Not really, you are comparing fruits against vegetables. Dolby Atmos is just an audio standard. Tempest is an engine built into the console. Xbox Series consoles has a similar engine called 3D Spatial Audio with a dedicated chip as well. This is really a benefit for Xbox as it can combine 3D Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos output. You should do some research on Dolby Atmos, it has nothing to do with Microsoft or Sony. You can even do hybrid systems.

  11. will

    I believe the only TV right now that can possibly support Dolby Vision 120fps is the LG CX and X1, needing a firmware update. Games look absolutely stunning on the LG OLED so this will only push that further.

    • thretosix

      It is supported in 60FPS games. The Sony TVs support it, you have to choose between Dolby Vision or 120 though, you get both but can only have one or the other. It's possible a future update may enable it. I think Sony is too busy still trying to figure out VRR on their sets.

  12. madthinus

    Happy that it is not exclusive. It should not be. The more pervasive the adoption is among the hardware makers, the better the software adoption.

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