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Series X's storage is a hidden weapon against PS5

The file sizes on games are becoming a major concern for many console owners. As games become more and more complex, they demand much more space on the hardware being used to play them. For instance, GameSpot points out that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's latest updates have brought to take up nearly 200GB of space. That's why it's such a huge deal that the Xbox Series X will be looking to reduce these file sizes.

In an interview with GameSpot, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald explained how the Xbox Series X will accomplish this. While Xbox had previously announced that the Series X would feature "hardware-based compression technology" to keep the size of game files down, Ronald went into a bit more detail about what this entails. 

As explained by Ronald, using this compression technology will make it so that games "consume as little space as possible on the SSD while eliminating all CPU overhead typically associated with run-time decompression."

"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."

An example of this given by Ronald concerns language settings in games. For instance, if you're playing on a console that has already been set to display all in English, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for the game you're installing to waste space uploading an alternate language or subtitle track. These new features would allow the games to register what settings the console has and adjust the install protocols accordingly. In other words, if the game has something in its files that you don't need, it won't bother you with it. Obviously, these would be settings that could probably be changed at any time, but small considerations like this will add up in the long-term, especially for folks who tend to keep multiple games on their hard drive.

As Ronald explained, that doesn't necessarily mean that this will solve all the problems inherent in giant game files. Even with breaking things up into a slightly smaller format, the fact remains that AAA games are simply larger than they've ever been. They're going to take up a lot of space. Still, it's interesting to see how Xbox is attempting to cut back on that problem. The company has also expressed that it is working on doing this without compromising the product or vision of the developers that have brought games to the Xbox One X.

"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," explained Ronald.

Removing an unnecessary language track is certainly more preferable than downgrading graphics or removing bonus content to make for a smaller game file. However, the compression technology will not be the only thing that will allow players to offload unused files or content.

As with previous console generations, players will also have the option of storing game files on an external hard drive. That way, the progress made in a certain title doesn't have to be lost when the game is removed from the console. That will also help alleviate some of the concerns surrounding the Xbox Series X hard drive becoming too full. However, the game will not play from that external source. In order to run the actual game, it needs to be moved to the Xbox Series X's internal SSD or an officially licensed expansion card. Otherwise, the only reason one would move the game onto an external hard drive would be for storage purposes.

The ability to fit more necessary components of games onto the hard drive may prove to be Xbox's ultimate edge in the next console war. The company has previously stated that the Xbox Series X will focus on immersion and making games "feel as amazing as they look." Naturally, the more sophisticated a title is, the more space it will take up. Add DLCs and season passes of new content onto that and you're looking at an entertainment package that will probably take up quite a bit of space. 

Some of the most anticipated games of the next console generation are already looking to be sizable downloads. For instance, we learned last June that the install file for Cyberpunk 2077 was going to be at least 80GB. Of course, the game has been delayed since then and has grown even larger. It could be that Xbox is implementing this compression technology at just the right time.