The Xbox Series X has been marketed as the “world’s most powerful console” and the “most powerful Xbox”. On paper that is true. It has the best overall specs of any console ever built and Xbox has lead much of its marketing with claims that the Series X is a powerhouse.
Right now, Xbox hasn’t been able to prove that they have the most powerful console. In real world comparisons, Xbox is currently underperforming the on paper specs. In multiple Digital Foundry comparisons to the Playstation 5, Xbox is simply performing worse. Whether that be an abundance of screen tearing, dropped frames, less detail, or other issues. The Series X seems to be underachieving and it has confused fans and critics alike.
Now, these issues are very small and won’t be noticed by a majority of people. Multiplatform games for both the PS5 and Series X are nearly identical with minor differences. However, the Series X is simply having a few more technical issues.
Tools, tools, tools.
There are potential explanations for this. Xbox has a brand new development environment called Game Core. Xbox moved to Game Core which encompasses all Xbox and PC platforms. We also know that Xbox is utilizing full RDNA2 and they had to wait for that from AMD before finalising their silicon design, meaning their development tools are very immature right now.
One plausible explanation for why Xbox is underperforming is that the current development environment for Xbox is new and evolving, meaning developers are still learning how to utilize the new tools.
It will take time for developers to get comfortable with the new tools and that should be expected, but it seems to be affecting current games. Xbox is taking a risk, but one that should eventually pay off. Creating a brand new development kit means that things aren’t going to go smoothly at first.
Playstation has the distinct advantage of having a more mature development kit and they have long been known to have an easy development environment. Xbox is banking on the fact that in the end their tools will be as good or better than the competition.
Will that come to fruition? I expect it to, but right now, it feels like the Series X isn’t fulfilling what is possible with the specs. It has also been a week and a half since the console launched, and many games are coming in hot. It is also possible there are other underlying issues we are not accounting for, but we will have to wait and see if we get any answers.
When developers become more comfortable with the tools and games aren’t coming in as hot, they should be able to fulfill the promise of the Series X and the console should perform better than it currently is.