New AI Tech Could Shrink Download Size For Next Xbox

Possibly reduced download size in Xbox Series X
Possibly reduced download size in Xbox Series X Playtoo

In the previous decade, we saw game sizes skyrocket from 2GB downloads to 128GB or more. Looking at how the download sizes are growing each year, Microsoft is working on AI tech that could reverse the trend for the new Xbox.

James Gwertzman, the general manager of Microsoft's new division, spoke with a few journalists about Microsoft Game Stack, a new tool that his team is working on. With what Gwertzman had to say, we feel that this new tech could have a great impact on how games work on the new Xbox.

An attendee at the meetup mentioned how some players are using an AI tech to sharpen the textures in older games. And the same technology can be useful in upcoming titles.

"One of the studios inside Microsoft has been experimenting with using [machine learning] models for asset generation," Gwertzman said at the meeting. "It’s working scarily well. To the point where we’re looking at shipping really low-res textures and having ML models uprez the textures in real time. You can’t tell the difference between the hand-authored high-res texture and the machine-scaled-up low-res texture, to the point that you may as well ship the low-res texture and let the machine do it."

Gwertzman continued, adding that this shouldn't impact a game's quality at all. "The download is way smaller, but there’s no appreciable difference in game quality," he explained. "Think of it more like a magical compression technology. That’s really magical. It takes a huge R&D budget. I look at things like that and say - either this is the next hard thing to compete on, hiring data scientists for a game studio, or it’s a product opportunity. We could be providing technologies like this to everyone to level the playing field again."

To train the machine learning model, artists will still need to create the usual assortment of assets in the game's own style. Then the developers can shrink all those textures down for smaller downloads and let the machine learning model restore them as the game is played. Gwertzman said this process works especially well for photorealistic styles, since it "adds tons of data."

Now, we aren't sure if the Xbox Series X will implement the new AI for upcoming games, but if it does so, we'd definitely enjoy the surprise.

You can read the entire transcript of the conversation at VentureBeat.

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