In an interview with Gamespot (opens in new tab), Jason Ronald, Xbox director of program management, spoke about the ways in which Microsoft's new console will aim to use its internal SSD as efficiently as possible. Specifically, the Series X will use compression technology.
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A lot of modern games now top 100 GB in size, which can rapidly consume hard drive space; even the terabyte drive of the Xbox One X can be filled up pretty quickly if one downloads a suite of triple-A games. So a way to reduce the size of games could be welcome news for people looking at getting a next-generation Xbox.
Ronald explained how the Xbox Series X will use a new codec for further compressing texture data; that data contains graphical assets which are one of the largest contributors to a games overall size. The BCPack codec will take the standard "block compress" in the games industry and add further compression upon it.
This will effectively reduce the "actual size of the assets" and result in games that take up less storage space and use less memory, effectively offering better overall performance.
Ronald also pointed to the Xbox Series X's ability to download games in a piecemeal format. We knew that this would be good for people who only want access to either a game's multiplayer or single-player modes but not both; Ronald explained that this feature goes further.
"Developers can also take advantage of a platform feature to only install the pieces of the game players need, thereby minimizing the amount of content that needs to be installed or downloaded to the SSD. We're providing a lot of tools to help them be more efficient," Ronald said. "If you're on an English console, [you shouldn't] be taking space for French or Spanish audio files, things like that."
Admittedly, these enhancements won't stop your console's storage from filling up rapidly if you install a few big games on it. "Ultimately there is no silver bullet", said Ronald.
He also said that despite these efforts, there was no pressure on game developers to make their games deliberately small: "We don't want to arbitrarily constrain our developers in the worlds that they want to create, but at the same time too gamers make it very clear, they don't want to download 300GB games."
The Xbox Series X, and the rival PS5, are both expected to appear in November this year. Both will offer numerous upgrades over the Xbox One (opens in new tab) and PS4 (opens in new tab), such as ray-tracing graphics and custom SSD storage.