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Xbox Series S Backward Compatibility Is Actually Quite Simple For Players

There may be confusion about how previous-gen games run when using the Xbox Series S, but Microsoft clears the air.


With Microsoft going for a two-pronged approach to next-gen with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, a gap in power lies between the two versions. We've done some analysis on their differences in processing power, but in a recent interview with Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald, we got more clarity in terms of the practical capabilities of the Series S and how it'll differ from the more powerful Series X.

There's been a bit of confusion about the graphical upgrades you receive when running backward compatible games on the Series S, but it's quite simple: Series S runs One S versions of those games and adds enhancements from there.

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Now Playing: Xbox Series X And Series S Prototype Impressions

"We designed the Xbox Series S for new next generation games to run at 1440p at 60 frames a second. So, for backward compatibility with Xbox Series S, we actually start with the Xbox One S version of the game," Ronald said. He continued, "Then we provide enhancements on top of that, things like improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, auto HDR if the game was created before HDR or never had HDR implemented, or the faster load times."

Keep in mind that the Series S isn't designed to be a 4K machine, so it's not necessarily meant to exactly match the Xbox One X out of the gate. But you'll still get specific enhancements that align with the specific hardware you're using.

As Ronald put it, "Like we've done this past generation, we're also looking at opportunities on certain titles for how we can enhance them even further with things like higher resolution or even things like doubling frame rates. So, our focus is really about making sure that we adhere to the creative intent of the original creator, while making the game run and play best on the device it's actually playing on."

A closer look at the Xbox Series S.
A closer look at the Xbox Series S.

That doesn't necessarily lock the Xbox Series S out of running games at 4K, but it really comes down to what developers want to do with their games. "If a developer wanted to, it could render native 4K on Xbox Series S. It's totally possible, but that's not really the design target or the goal there," Ronald told us when we asked about 4K capabilities. He added, "But once again, this goes back to developer flexibility. If that's what's most important for the game, then they totally have that capability of being able to do it."

For more on Microsoft's upcoming next-gen consoles, you can check out our size comparison of the actual Xbox Series S and Series X consoles, or read any of our stories below.

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