Destiny 2 has been marred in a bit of controversy at E3 2017 over confirmation the game will not run at 60 frames per second (fps) on the just announced Xbox One X. This controversy became worse over Tuesday over rumors the 30 fps limitation of Microsoft’s high-powered new console is due to the PlayStation 4 exclusivity marketing deal, something Bungie Creative Director Luke Smith strongly denied in an interview.
The rumors were addressed in a PC Gamer interview with Luke Smith, who flatly stated, “That’s categorically false. That is not true.”
Update: Smith appears to have been responding to a question about the PC version looking better than the PS4 Pro and not the Xbox One. We apologize for misreading the question and creating the wrong impression. However, a Eurogamer interview published this morning with PlayStation global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan at E3 does call the marketing deal rumor false when asked if Sony uses their marketing deals with Destiny, Call of Duty, and other titles to encourage or tell publishers not to make their games look better on the Xbox One X.
Not to my knowledge. Take the Destiny deal. The Destiny deal was actually done in February 2013, right? We hadn’t launched PS4. I might be wrong because great minds are at work in far-flung corners of Tokyo and San Mateo, but I don’t think anybody even thought of PS4 Pro at this stage.
So, I think you’re trying to see some sort of nefarious platform-holder activity where likely none exists.
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But clearly, the rumor has been floating around E3 2017 show floor and game media. GameSpot did an interview with Xbox Head Phil Spencer where the outlet asked how he handles games like Destiny 2 when marketing deals create “a situation where [Bungie] can’t have it run better on the Xbox than on the PS4 because they have a deal with Sony.”
Spencer appeared taken aback by the question at first, but he responded he doesn’t know about any of the clauses in the deal that require what the GameSpot host implied. However, he’s not a fan of any deals that hold back any technical innovations or any deals that prevent content from appearing on other platforms.
The Xbox Head went on to explain it is up to developers to determine whether they want to use the power of the Xbox One X for framerate, resolution, or “techniques within the frame” is up to them. Spencer stated he’s not going to dictate to developers what they must support on the console.
“I’ve never thought forcing the creative process is a great way to get great games,” he said.
So, what’s the limitation?
Bungie’s Luke Smith and Project Lead Mark Noseworthy previously pointed out the 30 fps cap on the PS4 Pro is due to a bottleneck with the CPU. The console has “tons of GPU power” but the CPU, which is slightly upgraded from the standard PS4, cannot handle all of the AI, monsters, vehicles, projectiles, and physics running at 60 fps.
That’s also a potentially valid reason for the Xbox One X, despite Bungie not specifically addressing why Destiny 2 runs at 30 fps on the console. The CPU is an upgraded version of the Xbox One with a faster clock speed and some additional customization. It still may not be powerful enough to run the game at 60 fps.
The PC version of Destiny 2 demoed at the reveal event in May and at E3 this week uses a high-end PC to achieve 4K and 60 fps. These PC demo stations sport an Intel i7-7700k processor, an Nvidia GTX 1080Ti graphics card, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and what is likely an SSD drive. This is a powerful and expensive machine to achieve the high framerate and 4K resolution.
Another valid reason for keeping the framerate at 30 fps on the Xbox One X is simply supporting the older Xbox One. The two consoles running at different framerates can be problematic both from a gameplay perspective and from a development support perspective.
[Featured Image by Bungie / Activision]