Road to Next-Gen: On Hard Drives and SkyDrives

Road to Next-Gen: On Hard Drives and SkyDrives

Prospective Xbox One owners, this post is for you; let's talk storage.

Storage perhaps isn't the most exciting thing about next-gen consoles, but it's an important consideration, as anyone who ever tried to struggle on with the original 360's 20GB hard drive will attest.

Both of the upcoming new consoles come with 500GB hard drives, which sounds like an unimaginably cavernous amount of space for anyone who's used to the smaller capacities of, say, the Wii U or current handheld devices. But just how quickly does that space fill up?

Enter the few lucky people who received their Xbox One consoles early as a result of a shipping error on the part of US retailer Target. Microsoft has banned the early consoles from connecting to Xbox Live prior to launch, but the company wasn't quite quick enough to stop users such as "Moonlightswami" (whose experiences we discussed yesterday) from scouring the Xbox One marketplace, finding out how much hard drive space you'll need for various games available at launch and posting the results over on NeoGAF.

Expect a lengthy wait between putting a new disc in and marvelling at next-gen fish AI for the first time.

It looks as if the average amount of space for a big, high-profile, triple-A game on Xbox One will be anywhere between 20GB and 40GB, meaning you'll be able to fit roughly between 12 and 25 "big" games on your system at once. Some games are significantly smaller, however; FIFA 14 squeezes into 8GB, for example, while Killer Instinct is only 3.4GB and Zoo Tycoon weighs in at just 2.6GB. The largest game available at launch is NBA 2K14, which takes up a hulking 43GB; it's closely followed by Call of Duty: Ghosts at 39GB and Ryse: Son of Rome at 34GB. The smallest downloadable title is the Xbox Fitness app, which consists of just 246MB of data; this is unsurprising, however, since it's largely based on streaming video rather than locally stored content.

In many cases, you can begin playing before the whole thing has downloaded or installed from disc, though expect to be waiting about 25 minutes or so between putting in the disc for something like Ghosts and actually starting to play, if Moonlightswami's reports are to be believed.

Here's the list of launch games the group of players were able to track down details for, and how much space they'll require to install.

  • Assassin's Creed 4: 20GB
  • Battlefield 4: 33GB
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts: 39GB
  • Dead Rising 3: 19GB
  • FIFA 14: 8GB
  • Fighter Within: 9.2GB
  • Forza Motorsport 5: 31GB
  • Just Dance 2014: 22GB
  • Killer Instinct: 3.4GB
  • Lococycle: 13GB
  • Madden NFL 25: 12GB
  • NBA 2K14: 43GB
  • NBA Live 14: 9GB
  • Powerstar Golf: 3.9GB
  • Ryse: Son of Rome: 34GB
  • Skylanders: Swap Force: 15GB
  • Xbox Fitness: 246MB
  • Zoo Tycoon: 2.6GB
  • Zumba World Party: 24GB

Expect install sizes to continue to grow over time; with the additional power of next-generation consoles, games will be able to make use of higher-quality art assets in particular, which take up considerably more space. Remember that more GBs doesn't necessarily equate to a better game, though; I think there's some old saying about size not mattering that's perhaps relevant here?

Games aren't the only thing you can store on your consoles these days, though; what with them being "all-in-one entertainment systems," they often house music, video and photos as well. Such content can eat into your precious hard drive space, though, particularly if you have a lot of it. Microsoft's response to this issue is to take the local hard drive out of the picture for your own multimedia content altogether, and instead rely on its multiplatform cloud-based file storage service SkyDrive. Check out the video above for an in-depth look at how it all works.

Using the SkyDrive Xbox One app, which will be available at launch, you'll be able to browse through your photos and watch videos on your TV through your Xbox One. Integration with Xbox Music means that you can give your slideshows a custom soundtrack, and of course the whole thing works with Kinect gestural and voice commands. There's also tight integration with Windows Phone devices; take a picture and it'll be uploaded directly to SkyDrive and consequently be available almost immediately for viewing on your TV without you having to anything else. It's similar to how Apple's Photo Stream functionality works between iOS devices and Apple TV, in essence.

SkyDrive will also integrate with the "OneGuide" system that allows you to use your Xbox One to control other living room devices. Using OneGuide, you can add SkyDrive folders -- including those shared by friends -- as "channels" and easily access them. OneGuide's "App Channels" functionality also allows quick and easy access to other services such as Netflix without having to manually switch to the relevant apps.

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