With each console iteration, games are getting bigger. Higher resolution textures and more complex sounds add a lot of baggage. These days, games are filling up 500GB hard drives fast with their 50GB requirements. Other games make the problem even worse by nearing 100GB. As the release of the Xbox One X nears, 4K assets will make this issue even worse. According to a report from Digital Foundry, Microsoft plans to roll out a new system called “Intelligent Delivery,” which will cut down the amount on players’ reduce size and times of downloads, by allowing players to download portions of a game’s data, rather than downloading whole games in a single block.
According to the report, Intelligent Delivery gives users the option to pick and choose what assets to download, giving them the ability to pass on files they don’t need. For example, gamers on the original Xbox One or Xbox One S won’t need to download the 4K assets used with the more powerful Xbox One X. This concept involves splitting the game content into tagged chunks of data. Tags can be made specific to a device or a language, meaning only the necessary assets are downloaded with other chunks available as an optional download.
How Intelligent Delivery affects a game’s size would vary from game to game. Some install sizes, such as with sports titles, are mostly made up audio assets for every language option. Only downloading the language’s desired by the player would drastically reduce the download. At the same time, Xbox users could delete these language or artwork chunks if space becomes more limited.
Chunks of data are not limited to just high-resolution textures and audio. Developers can also create content-specific chunks. This would work best for games with both single and multiplayer modes. Don’t plan on playing multiplayer? Only download the single player campaign. Already finished the campaign and only play against friends online? Delete that chunk and only keep multiplayer. Other non-crucial elements could be partitioned off into chunks as well such as level editors.
Downloadable games aren’t the only ones benefiting from Intelligent Delivery. Instead of requiring a connection to the internet when a game is too big for one disc, multiple discs could be separated between essential data and optional chunks.
Intelligent Delivery may become a useful new tool that would likely appear in Microsoft’s upcoming first-party titles. Third-party developers could implement the system as well, but to what extent will be based on developers’ preferences. Additional info can be found in Digital Foundry’s latest video.
Updated on 09-14-2017: Language changed to reflect that this information is based on a report from Digital Foundry.