By now, it’s well known that the Xbox One X is a beast of a machine. In fact, over 100 games are currently scheduled to receive updates designed to take advantage of the console’s extra power. The competing PS4 Pro took some time to mature in this regard. By comparison, Xbox One X will benefit from seeing a far greater number of titles receive enhancements than Sony’s console did at launch.
The list of games getting support for the Xbox One X is extensive. It runs the gamut from first-party games, third-party blockbusters, and indie games. However, two big AAA releases are conspicuously absent from that list.
At this time, Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: World War II, two of the biggest games slated to release this year, will not feature any Xbox One X enhancements. No 4K resolution or HDR visuals. No high-resolution textures, improved lighting, or any other added effects. Nothing. This news is concerning for prospective X owners. Destiny and Call of Duty are two of the most-played games in the world, and this is true on Xbox One as well. It would be highly disappointing to invest $500 in a console upgrade only to not get any kind of visual or performance improvements with these games.
There are two scenarios likely at play here.
In the first scenario, Activision would not be allowed to market X-specific features for their games. I believe that this is the more likely of the two scenarios. After all, Sony did pay a not-insignificant amount of money to secure marketing rights for these two titles. It is possible that, as part of the deal, Activision would refrain from mentioning the Xbox One X and how these games run in enhanced form on Microsoft’s console.
While some may not like the sound of that, it makes perfect sense from a business perspective. With Sony paying a lot of money to secure marketing rights for these huge games, they do not want it to seem as though those games look better on a competing console. Of course, gamers will be able to see the difference once the games actually launch. If the casual consumer doesn’t know that going in, though, he or she could just see the PlayStation branding and purchase the games on PS4.
It is the second possible scenario that is far more insidious. In this scenario, Activision simply cannot implement any type of Xbox One X enhancements because of the aforementioned marketing deal. Activision would not be allowed to implement X-specific features at all, as opposed to just not talking about them. With Sony’s recent history of anti-consumerism, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched. I do feel that this is far less likely to be true than the first scenario. The backlash against Sony and Activision in this instance would be intense, severely damaging the credibility of both companies as a result.
The scenarios above are purely speculative. Neither Sony or Activision has definitively stated what is going on. Xbox executive Mike Ybarra has talked to developers (including Activision) to ensure that the best console versions of games are on the Xbox One X. We’ll just have to wait a little longer to find out the truth.
This situation does beg the question: will parity be a concern for the Xbox One X going forward?
Personally, I do not believe that Xbox gamers should be concerned about this. Developers want to be sure that they showcase their games as best as they can on each platform. It’s why they take the time to make sure their games look and play spectacularly on gaming PCs. They make sure their titles take advantage of higher-end hardware so their product looks and runs as great as possible.
I can see these same developers taking a similar approach with the Xbox One X. Why would a developer, after pouring hours of time, effort, and money into the creation of their game, intentionally “gimp” or “nerf” said game on more powerful hardware? Why wouldn’t they want to showcase their efforts as best as they could by taking advantage of these upgraded hardware features?
Since the original Xbox One launched in 2013, it was underpowered relative to the competition. Since then, gamers and developers alike have been clamoring for something more powerful. Microsoft has delivered that with the Xbox One X. It would be silly for developers to not take advantage of that extra power after demanding it for the past few years.
All in all, I don’t believe that Xbox gamers have to worry. The Xbox One X will be the most powerful console available when it launches in November. Developers have wanted this power for a long time. You, as the gamer, will clearly be able to see the results.