A new, more powerful Xbox One console may give players the option to play Xbox One games at a faster frame rate than the current hardware allows, Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley has speculated, but support for it could be dictated by the level of resources required by third-party developers.
Speaking to VideoGamer.com about how the launch of an upgraded Xbox One console could impact games development, Kingsley said that he doesn't think "anybody actually knows" what Microsoft has planned for the future, but that the idea seems "really interesting".
"I don't think anybody actually knows [what Microsoft has planned]," he told us. "Yes, you will have to make the game to work on the existing, let's call it lower-spec Xbox. You would also, depending on how the operating system works, have to anticipate the upgrade... We're already working on Xbox One titles and we don't know if there is another one coming. I guess at some stage we might know.
"It might just be that it would be a frame rate improvement, and it might just happen out of the box," he speculated. "'This one runs at a solid 30fps and with the new machine it runs at a solid 60fps.' That I could imagine would be of value to some people."
Xbox chief Phil Spencer strongly hinted at the possibility of releasing more powerful Xbox hardware during the current console cycle earlier this month, after he revealed that he believes "we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we've ever seen.
"You'll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation," he said, "allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform".
The level of support an upgraded Xbox One would receive from developers, however, may depend on how automated the process is, Kingsley suggests, and whether the game would have to be coded in a specific way to take advantage of the improved hardware.
"A lot of these situations, the devil's in the detail," he said. "It depends whether they upgrade the OS. It depends how faster it is and what they've done. Is it faster in an automatically accessible way, or do you have to specially code? You could imagine a situation where they say, well, you will do free patches [to make existing Xbox One games compatible with the new console]."
He continued: "I think if they're going to do that we'd have to let them take care of all of that and we'd just have to hope that our machines would work for it. It would be quite a reasonable impact on the dev team if they're already working on a new project, then Xbox 1.5 comes along and Microsoft needs us to do an upgrade to it. You've got to go back to the old code, recompile it or whatever. I don't think they'd want to do that. That wouldn't work.
"But it might be that it is just a faster frame rate," he says. "That's basically what happens when you get a faster PC. You can crank the graphics resolution up. You can scale. The way we do it on PC, we have all these things that are scalable. You can scale it down to work on min spec or you can turn everything up to full if you've got a ninja PC, and it's the same code. At the moment for console we don't really code that way but it's in there because we do games for PC, so they've got all these inherent upgradeable elements to it. So you might end up where, you know, are you on [Xbox] 1.5? Do you want a really fast frame rate?"
"One thing we know," Kingsley concludes, "is that neither Microsoft nor Sony are stupid. There's a lot of very, very clever people there, and anything we can think of they can think of, and I'm sure they'll have thought this all through and they'll work out a strategy. So if it means we've got more people playing more games at a better resolution and faster frame rate then that's just brilliant. The more people playing games, the more target consumers we've got, the more people we can entertain and the more games we can sell, so it's good as far as I'm concerned."
Rebellion's next game, Sniper Elite 4, launches on Xbox One, PS4 and PC later this year.