How Xbox Series X Will Keep Game Install Sizes Down

As games evolve and become ever-increasingly detailed, they’ve also become big. File sizes and required storage space for downloads or installs have gotten to the point where 100+ GBs for one AAA game isn’t a surprise. Content updates and DLC have also piled on overall sizes for games–shout out to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for exceeding 185GB with its latest update. And while next-gen consoles are adopting ultra-fast SSDs, overall storage space isn’t necessarily making a leap. However, the Xbox Series X is built with tech to help mitigate this.

We had been aware of Xbox Series X’s hardware-based compression technology, as it’s outlined on the official site. But in speaking with Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald, we have more insight on what this means in practice for Xbox users. As he puts it, hardware decompression “allows games to consume as little space as possible on the SSD while eliminating all CPU overhead typically associated with run-time decompression.” He spared no detail, confirming, “This includes 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.”

That’s not the only method in which Xbox Series X games can save a few extra GBs from the SSD and your own data consumption. Ronald pointed out that, “Developers can also take advantage of a platform feature to only install the pieces of the game players need, thereby minimizing the amount of content that needs to be installed or downloaded to the SSD. We’re providing a lot of tools to help them be more efficient.” He gave an example of how games can be smarter about packaged contents, and pointed out, “If you’re on an English console, [you shouldn’t] be taking space for French or Spanish audio files, things like that.”

Ronald admitted that when it comes to minimizing storage consumption, “Ultimately there is no silver bullet.” While the aforementioned features help pack multiple games on one drive, you’re essentially shaving off excess from games that are inherently large. “We don’t want to arbitrarily constrain our developers in the worlds that they want to create, but at the same time too gamers make it very clear, they don’t want to download 300GB games,” he stated.

As previously detailed, the Xbox Series X features a storage expansion slot along the I/O ports where for the proprietary Seagate 1TB SSD card–it’s said to be as fast and efficient as the internal SSD so users don’t experience a loss in performance between the two drives. You can still connect an external storage to transfer data, but it will not be able to use applications or play games and must be moved to the internal SSD or expansion card.

For more on all the latest news on the Xbox Series X, be sure to check out our stories below and read up on newly announced next-gen games like The Medium, Chorus, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

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