Phil Spencer Really, Really Wants to Push Frame Rates With the Xbox Series X

Phil Spencer Really, Really Wants to Push Frame Rates With the Xbox Series X

He's not hot on "just throwing more pixels up on the screen."

Even before the public ever heard the name Project Scarlett, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that frame rate was an aspect he hoped Microsoft's next console would improve on. Now, with the launch of the Xbox Series X less than a year away, Spencer remains consistent on that point, saying the current generation of hardware's not at point where "feel and frame rate" are where he wants them to be.

"I want games to feel as amazing as they look," Spencer tells Stevivor in a new interview. "We don't have that in today's generation, mainly because the CPU is underpowered relative to the GPU that's in the box in order to reach a feel and frame rate and kind of consistency or variable refresh rate and other things that we want."

Still, Spencer emphasizes that Microsoft has "never really tried to limit" or define what frame rates and resolutions developers should target. "The feel of the games was definitely something that we wanted to have more focus on, not just throwing more pixels up on the screen," says Spencer.

At last year's Project Scarlett reveal, Microsoft announced that the next-gen Xbox would support up to 120 frames per second and resolutions up to 8K, but in a subsequent interview with Gamespot, Spencer put smooth frame rates and fast loading (thanks to an SSD) first: "People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K 60 [FPS] I think will be a real design goal for us."

Even at E3 2018, with the launch of the Xbox One X less than a year behind him, Spencer pointed to frame rate as a priority. "If you watch what we're doing on the Xbox consoles right now, with variable refresh rate [and] looking at higher frame rate capability, I think frame rate is an area where consoles can do more," Spencer told Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann, again citing an imbalance between current-gen console CPUs and GPUs.

While Spencer recently gave the world its first look at the Xbox Series X's accelerated processing unit, we still don't know exactly how it compares to that of the Xbox One X. An analysis from Digital Foundry estimates that the chip—which utilizes AMD Zen 2 and RDNA architecture—could boast twelve teraflops of computing power over the One X's six. A substantial boost in power like that would lend developers plenty of power to pursue smooth frame rates, but, just as with the recent supposed leaks of the Series X's rear ports, Microsoft has yet to verify these sorts of details.

For more on the Xbox Series X's design, capabilities, and support for new and old games and accessories, check out our rundown of everything we learned after Microsoft's reveal at last year's Game Awards.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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