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Xbox Series X looks to reduce games’ file sizes, but there’s ‘no silver bullet’

Microsoft will implement certain measures to reduce the file sizes of games for the Xbox Series X, an issue that has become more prevalent as developers continue to push the envelope for the industry.

One of the features of the Xbox Series X is hardware decompression, which is a dedicated hardware component that will allow games to take up as little space as possible on the console’s SSD. Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald provided more details on the feature in an interview with GameSpot.

Hardware decompression removes all the CPU overhead usually associated with run-time decompression, and according to Ronald, a part of this is “BCPack, which is designed specifically for compressing texture data that often is one of the largest contributors to overall game size… to help compress the actual size of the assets.”

In addition, the Xbox Series X will also allow developers to have games only install the pieces that players need, according to Ronald. For example, consoles set on the English language should not have to install files for French or Spanish audio, he said.

Ronald, however, admitted that “there is no silver bullet” when it comes to minimizing games’ file sizes, as while players do not want to suffer through massive installs, Microsoft does not want to constrain developers.

Ronald’s answers to GameSpot’s interview echoes his responses to similar questions from EuroGamer, to which he said that Microsoft is providing developers “a lot of tools” to help minimize the assets that need to be installed.

“Ultimately, we don’t constrain it,” Ronald said, referring to the installation footprints of the games created by developers. Players have different limits on how much space they want their games to take up on their consoles’ hard drives, so Microsoft is instead looking to provide flexibility, “so people get a great gaming experience without unnecessarily using more data or using more storage than they need to.”

Install sizes getting out of hand

The evolution of the video game industry has resulted in ever-increasing file sizes, with AAA titles consistently reaching space requirements of at least 100GB. However, some players have started complaining about the space that games take up on their consoles’ hard drives, as it limits the number of games that they have installed.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of the games that have been the target of such complaints, as the latest patch and DLC content for the first-person shooter has increased its space requirement to nearly 200GB across all platforms.

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