The Xbox One X is the most sophisticated home console ever made- Microsoft stuffed it to the brim with the latest hardware that would make the console top of the line in every sense, from graphics, to processing power, to audio hardware.
Audio design is really important to your game experience- it is an underappreciated, but crucial element to the atmosphere that a game casts. No one knows this better than Brett Patterson, CEO of Firelight Technologies, and the man behind audio middleware FMOD, which is used in many games.
When we got the chance to speak to Patterson, we asked him some questions about how he foresees the Xbox One X influencing audio tech in games going forward. For instance, does the Xbox One X’s 12GB of GDDR5 RAM mean that there are additional possibilities for developers who otherwise had to compress sound on the base console?
“The changes allow the developer to store more sounds and make them higher quality if they want, but the changes for the new consoles don’t affect audio as much as graphics,” he said.
He also discussed how the Xbox One X might lead to a meaningful impact on games’ audio design- in simple terms, it will not.
“Compressed audio decoding is done by the Xbox dedicated hardware, and not the CPU, but these days compressed audio is becoming less of an overhead, compared to the heavy demand of a big project, and the complex mixing structures and special effects they use,” he said. “Unless the game is Xbox One X specific, which as far as I know is not allowed, the games still have to limit themselves to the power of the original Xbox One.”
It sounds, sadly, like sound design will be one of those areas where we will have to wait for a true next generation system like PS5 if we want to see a meaningful step up from what is currently offered. That said, at the very least, the sound quality on Xbox One is already really good, so it’s not like it is lacking in this area, either.