Cyberpunk 2077, one of the year’s most anticipated games, is the first game outside of Microsoft’s studio stable to take advantage of this feature. This means you can buy and play Cyberpunk 2077 on your tiny, outdated Xbox One S on its release this September, and if you get an Xbox Series X for Christmas, you don’t have to repurchase Cyberpunk 2077 for the Xbox Series X. Your console will simply update the game to take advantage of the more powerful hardware. Every first-party Microsoft game will take advantage of this, including the upcoming Halo Infinite.
This feature doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s meant to complement Microsoft’s new strategy of offering a portfolio of features that essentially travel with you no matter which Microsoft platform you’re using.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because you probably already use something like this. Your smartphone apps all carry over with you as you upgrade to newer phones. Instagram is going to work just fine on your iPhone 11 or iPhone 8, but it might work a bit better on the newer hardware. Microsoft is essentially turning its Xbox family into an iPhone line.
“This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be release on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later,” Spencer wrote.
CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077′s developers, were quick to announce their decision on Twitter.
Backward compatibility is another strong, defining Xbox feature, one that Sony and Nintendo have lagged on. Spencer recommits that the Series X will be backward compatible with Xbox One accessories and software, along with Xbox One compatible 360 and original Xbox games. Basically, whatever works on your Xbox One should work on your Xbox Series X, and the games might run better too.
Spencer also outlined a few more hardware specs. Most notably, the console will feature 12 teraflops of GPU, “twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One,” said Spencer. Teraflops offer computing power to create larger, more sophisticated game worlds, though they don’t necessarily translate to faster performance. Spencer also promised framerates up to 120 per second, which brings the console closer to high-end PC rigs.
Other eye-catching announcements: hardware-accelerated DirectX ray tracing means games will be able to simulate realistic lighting, rather than mimic it. Control on PC last year was one of the first titles to use this technology throughout the game.
The new “Quick Resume” feature is also analogous to the smartphone experience. You can close out of your games and resume where you were almost instantly, without having to wait for long start-up screens to load.
The centerpiece of this “play anywhere” strategy is Xbox’s Game Pass subscription service, which offers hundreds of games for a monthly price cheaper than Netflix.
Altogether, the announcements about the Series X console and Microsoft’s strategy more broadly paint the picture of a consumer-friendly outlook — the kind that ensures long-term brand loyalty. Look what it did for Apple.