Games Can Be 30% Smaller For Xbox Series S, Saving SSD Space On Install Sizes

The Xbox Series S comes with a smaller SSD, but Microsoft has a solution that'll help keep game install sizes down.

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One of the key differences between the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S other than graphical capability is the size of their solid-state drives. The Series S comes with roughly half the storage space of the Series X out of the box: 512 GB compared to 1 TB respectively. And the Series S does not have a disc drive to play physical versions of games. Of course, you have the option for the SSD expansion card, but that's sold separately. When thinking about how big current-gen games are, and how they might just get bigger in next-gen, you wonder if 512 GB is even sufficient.

In speaking with Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald, we talked about several technical aspects of the Series S, including SSD storage concerns. He explained how developers can keep game sizes down for Series S versions.

"When you look at the size of a normal game package, the largest percentage of content that gets installed on local storage is actually texture data. So by targeting 1440p that allows developers to not ship their highest MIP levels, which are the largest assets," Ronald told me.

As the Series S aims for a slightly lower graphical fidelity, it also saves overall game size in the process, Ronald also gave an estimate on how much space the Series S will save, saying, "As we look across the data that we have from the current generation, we believe the games on Xbox Series S, on average, will be about 30% smaller than Xbox Series X, because they don't have to install those extra assets."

We believe the games on Xbox Series S, on average, will be about 30% smaller than Xbox Series X

Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald

I brought up the ever-increasing size of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone, and the fact that Series S users have to go all-in on digital versions of games. Ronald responded by telling me, "I think the other thing too is--obviously you pointed at Call of Duty, and we can all point at certain games that are a very large size--you also have a large collection of games that are nowhere near that size, as well. So, if you think about somebody in a digital ecosystem, maybe it's a Game Pass subscriber, they're playing a bunch of different games, all games are of different sizes, different scopes and scales. As we just really try to find that balance between performance capacity and delivering the console at the most affordable price point, that's how we landed at the drive size that we did."

The Xbox Series X and Series S side by side.
The Xbox Series X and Series S side by side.

The move to ultra-fast NVMe SSDs for storage isn't cheap. While PCs have had these drives available for a while now, they're still relatively expensive and certainly are for producing consoles. But it's one of the major features for next-gen consoles and core to how the Xbox Series X/S Velocity architecture works.

Ronald said as much, "One of the big innovations with this generation is radically rethinking how I/O subsystems work and what that really unlocks from a creativity perspective. We invested in the NVMe SSDs. Clearly that performance comes with a cost, and when you're trying to design a console to hit a specific price point, as we balanced performance and price, we felt like this was the right middle ground from a trade-off perspective."

For more on Microsoft's next-generation Xbox consoles, be sure to read up on how backward compatible enhancements work specifically on the Xbox Series S, and check out our size comparisons of the actual Xbox Series consoles themselves. We also have you covered with several stories below.

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