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Some Xbox Series X games won’t hit 60fps “performance target”

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Some Xbox Series X games won’t hit 60fps “performance target”

Dropping to 30fps, as in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, is a “creative decision.”

This <em>Assassin's Creed Valhalla</em> screenshot is running at one frame per all of time (or 1 fpat).
Enlarge / This Assassin's Creed Valhalla screenshot is running at one frame per all of time (or 1 fpat).


With the added power of the Xbox Series X, Microsoft has been touting 4K resolution gaming at 60 frames per second as a new console standard. In recent days, though, we've been learning that not all Series X titles will be achieving that standard.


Back in March, Microsoft announced that 4K/60fps level as the "performance target" for Series X games. Microsoft wanted to "build a next generation console that could run games in 4K at 60fps with no compromises for developers," the company said. And Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg later tweeted that 60fps should be considered the "standard output" for Series X games.


But that target isn't a guarantee that all Series X games will run at 60fps. Ubisoft made that much clear in a recent statement to IGN:

Assassin's Creed Valhalla will run at a minimum of 30 fps. On Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we are committed to offer the best experience to our players by immersing them in the most beautiful worlds and environments we could create, and leveraging not only the graphics enhancements offered by the next generation of consoles, but also faster loading times and the new architectures.

Microsoft further clarified the situation in a series of tweets to the Verge's Tom Warren. "Ultimately, it is up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X," the company said. "Developers always have flexibility in how they use the power, so a standard or common 60 fps is not a mandate."

How many frames do you need?

Measuring how fast the human visual system can actually perceive changes is a pretty tricky business. There's a robust debate over precisely how fast a display's refresh rate can get before you hit a point of diminishing returns as far as letting an average player detect less apparent motion "flicker."


That said, Professor Thomas Busey told PC Gamer in 2017 that going from 30fps to 60fps is "demonstrably better" as far as motion perception. For games where quick reactions are important, 60fps has long been considered a common target.

When playing on PC, frame rates are usually "unlocked," meaning players with strong enough hardware can push the performance as fast as their display allows. But frame rates on consoles are usually locked to a set rate meant to optimize performance on known hardware.


In recent years, that has meant a number of high-profile games running at only 30fps on consoles, even as the PC versions of those games usually allow for much smoother frame rates. The mid-generation hardware upgrades of the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro helped more games achieve hit that 60fps rate, but many console games still struggled to reach that level of performance consistently (while other games offered enhanced-console players a choice to prioritize frame rate or resolution in the settings menu).


With the Xbox Series X's "performance target," Microsoft seems to be saying that any decision to not reach 60fps on the system is a distinct choice by the developer, not a reflection on the hardware itself. Xbox Series X development chief Jason Ronald made this explicit in an interview with Eurogamer earlier in the month.

Ultimately, we view resolution and frame rate as a creative decision. Sometimes, from a pure gameplay aspect, 30 [fps] is the right creative decision they can make. But in previous generations, sometimes you had to sacrifice frame rate for resolution. With this next generation, now it's completely within the developers' control.


And even if you're building a competitive game, or an esports game, or a twitch fighter or first-person shooter, 60 frames is not the ceiling anymore. As we've seen on PC and other ecosystems, ultra high frame rates and ultra low latency input, that is the precision they prefer to prioritize. So we've designed the system to put that creative control in developers' hands.


This isn't a new issue for Assassin's Creed games. Back in 2014, Assassin's Creed Unity Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand said developer Ubisoft locked all versions of the game at 30fps "to avoid all the debates and stuff," setting off intense debate among the usual subjects on the Internet. "We could be running at 100 fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we're still limited to 30 frames per second," Pontbriand said at the time, highlighting the tradeoffs involved in graphical fidelity.


We'll see just how many developers end up making a similar "creative decision" on next-generation consoles going forward. What's clear for now, though, is that the newly emerging 60fps standard for modern games falls short of a heavy-handed requirement for all games to hit that mark.



Source: Some Xbox Series X games won’t hit 60fps “performance target” (Ars Technica)  

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Some Xbox Series X games won’t hit 60fps “performance target” Dropping to 30fps, as in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, is a “creative decision.” Enlarge / This Assassin

Xbox Series X frame rate in question as Microsoft passes the buck to developers


Halo Infinite (2020) (Image credit: Xbox)


Confusion reigns about what frame rates gamers can actually expect on the next-gen Xbox Series X console when it releases later this year – and the answer may disappoint you.


We've heard much about the high-end capabilities of the hardware in the past few months, with talk of a benchmark of 4K/60fps gameplay and a new upper ceiling of 4K/120fps – or even a very unlikely 8K/60fps.


But new information concerning one of the first flagship Xbox Series X games has put that into question, with Ubisoft only able to promise 30fps gameplay for its upcoming title, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, which will come to both Xbox One X and its next-gen successor.


Speaking to The Verge's Tom Warren, Microsoft seemingly confirmed that the 60fps standard wouldn't necessarily be common across Xbox Series X games, stating that, “Ultimately, it is up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X.”

General Manager at Aaron Greenberg responded in a tweet of his own, adding that higher frame rates were in reach of devs, but wouldn't necessarily be taken advantage of.



It's not all bad news, though, as signs still point to Microsoft's first-party Halo Infinite running at the higher 60fps benchmark, with a job listing for a Lead Graphics Developer at 343 Industries specifically citing "stunning 60 Hz 4k graphics." For third-party games, though, even franchises as massive as Assassin's Creed, it appears to be a different story for now.

Things stay the same


We've talked about our disappointment regarding Assassin's Creed Valhalla's low bar, and how it pales in comparison to the kinds of frame rates that PC gamers have been able to enjoy for years now.



This confirmation from Microsoft, though, really hits home that the specs being used to sell a next-gen console to us aren't going to be widely in use from the off. We'd expect to see more of this further down the console generation, as devs get more confident with the new tools available to them – and we probably shouldn't look to a cross-gen game like Valhalla as a showcase for everything a next-gen console can go.


But the question of when (and if) to upgrade to the Xbox Series X – or, presumably, the PS5 – gets a lot murkier when the higher frame rates these consoles are technically capable of won't be realistically achieved for a good while yet.



Source: Xbox Series X frame rate in question as Microsoft passes the buck to developers (TechRadar)

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