Microsoft is rolling out a new feature called Intelligent Delivery across the family of Xbox One consoles in an effort to keep game installs and downloads as low as possible.
Xbox games are huge, and Microsoft's own games typically reach--or break--the 100GB barrier. One of my biggest worries about the Xbox One X was games becoming too big; these titles are already huge, but with 4K HDR assets added in, your included 1TB hard drive would be filled in no time. So how will Microsoft combat this? With the new Intelligent Delivery system. According to Digital Foundry, who acquired developer notes for the new ID system, Intelligent Delivery will give developers the power to carve up key portions of their games into "chunks". This allows developers to, say, have users install only a single audio language pack, and even allows multi-disc support for the Xbox One family of systems.
But that's not it: Intelligent Delivery automatically detects your console type and the resources you need to download. For Xbox One S or Xbox One users, ID will avoid the native 4K textures that Xbox One X can utilize, thereby reducing the file sizes. Since all three Xbox One consoles vary in power and efficacy, Intelligent Delivery is a tool that dictates and manages games, resources and assets across the family of machines on the consumer side, effectively allowing users to download "shrunken" games. On the developer side, however, ID can do some interesting things that may very well revolutionize console gaming--if, of course, devs and publishers opt to use it.
From a developer's perspective the Xbox One X is all about choice. Devs have total freedom to utilize the console's 6TFLOP horsepower as they see fit--Microsoft institutes no regulations or standards, and games can support modes like native 4K, upscaled 4K, 1080p 60FPS, 4K HDR, and a bazillion other features and modes that are possible with the box. Intelligent Delivery also plays into this.
Read Also: Why Xbox doesn't mandate 60FPS on Xbox One X
According to Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter, the potential for Intelligent Delivery casts a wide net. Developers could theoretically use ID to carve up their game into "chunks" or what I like to call "modules", effectively letting gamers download or install the portions they want. For example: I hate Halo 5's campaign, and dislike it's PVP multiplayer, but I like Warzone Firefight. But with all the updates, Halo 5 is so huge that I deleted it. If I could simply download, install, and exclusively play Warzone Firefight, I'd install Halo 5 again and get to playing.
Mr. Leadbetter also postulates that since Intelligent Delivery effectively adds multi-disc support to the Xbox One family of consoles that developers could start shipping dual-disc games, with singleplayer campaign on one disc and online multiplayer assets on the other (think Halo 3: ODST).
Microsoft has discussed Intelligent Delivery in the past, but no explicit details on its feature-set or potential benefits have been revealed thus far. Microsoft exec Mike Ybarra recently confirmed that users can pre-download 4K texture packs to prepare for the Xbox One X's launch.
"We have over 100 games with Xbox One X enhancements. One of the things we want to do is, for some of those games, get you all those updates before Xbox One X launches so that when you get your console you plug it in and you're in those awesome amazing games," said Xbox and Windows Platform at Microsoft Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra at Gamescom 2017.
Intelligent Delivery could dramatically speed of up development in a number of key ways, and it will be interesting how the feature revolutionizes Xbox gaming--and possibly even total console gaming--in the future.
The Xbox One X will be available on November 7, 2017 for $499.
Xbox One X confirmed specs
- SoC: Highly customized 360mm² AMD System-on-Chip built on 16nm FinFET
- GPU: Polaris-derived GPU with 40 Compute Units at 1172MHz, 6TFLOPs of Compute Performance
- CPU: Custom x86 "Jaguar Evolved" 8-core CPU at 2.3GHz, 4MB L2 cache
- Memory: 12GB GDDR5 memory with 326GB/s bandwidth (12x 6.8GHz modules on a 384-bit bus)
- Storage: 1TB 2.5-inch HDD
- Media: 4K UHD Blu-ray player