Technology industry juggernaut Microsoft seems to be planning a quiet revolution in the way that games are installed and streamed on their gaming platforms, Xbox One and Xbox One X. The new system, known internally as Intelligent Delivery, aims to conserve hard drive space and reduce download times.
The download time reduction and storage space conservation are achieved by allowing users to only download the assets that they will actually need, instead of downloading a complete game package.
Microsoft has already hinted the Intelligent Delivery’s functionality, confirming that Xbox One owners will not be required to download X’s 4K assets, Eurogamer.net reported. Instead, its execution goes beyond that, making it flexible enough to even support multi-disc releases, which is not currently supported on Xbox One.
According to the documentation seen by Digital Foundry, the Intelligent Delivery was first unveiled to game creators at Microsoft’s Xfest developer event earlier this year and its execution would rely on developers adopting the process that they master their titles.
In a nutshell, the concept of Intelligent Delivery involves splitting game content into “chunks” of data and then add tags to them. Additionally, multiple tags can be assigned to a chunk, which can also be device or language-specific. As an example, this could mean that game audio or cutscenes in non-relevant languages do not need to be downloaded.
In theory, Microsoft’s Intelligent Delivery could allow users to install just the assets that are applicable in their region, rendering other languages as optional “on demand” download, which can be accessed through the Xbox One dash.
By giving users the option to choose the assets that they would want to download, the actual impact on the space saved and download time will be significant, although this could also vary on a per game basis.
However, language-specific chunks have a particular relevance to sports title where the audio data would often be the majority of a game’s full install size, according to Microsoft. They further describe the potential savings because of the Intelligent Delivery would be “massive.”
When it comes to device-specific content, Intelligent Delivery gives developers the convenience of being able to partition off artwork for either Xbox One or the X, with the console only delivering the assets that are needed for the hardware in question.
In addition to location and device tags, developers can also specify content-specific chunks of data. This feature would be highly-beneficial for first-person shooters like “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty.” Single-player and multiplayer parts of the game can also be partitioned off; thus, allowing the user to delete either component if they are not using them.
The concept of Microsoft’s Intelligent Delivery system looks to be great for developers and users, but there is still no guarantee that third-party developers will use it to its fullest extent. But as far as being “ahead of the curve” goes, there is still no PlayStation equivalent to this system, meaning that developers will have to put in additional effort in setting up their projects, which would only benefit one platform.