Microsoft VP at Xbox Mike Ybarra got caught up in the ongoing online argument over Destiny 2‘s frame-rate caps, clarifying his company’s policy regarding the upcoming Xbox Scorpio console. Ybarra posted on Twitter that Microsoft has no requirements regarding Xbox One and Xbox Scorpio frame-rate parity, which led some to believe that the VP was digging at the news that Destiny 2 would be capped at 30fps on both PlayStation 4 and the more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro. However, it’s equally likely Ybarra was simply trying to be informative.
The revelation that Destiny 2 would be frame-capped at 30fps on PlayStation hardware led many to assume that Sony is to blame, that the company enforces a parity policy where PlayStation 4 Pro potential is hamstrung by PlayStation 4 limitations. However, Sony has no such policy. While Sony does reportedly encourage developers to target frame-rate parity in multiplayer, they do not require it. It is the developer alone – Bungie in the case of Destiny 2 – that decides platform frame-rates.
Perhaps Ybarra saw the accusations being thrown at Sony and decided it was important to reiterate Microsoft’s policy with Xbox going forward. Or maybe he thought it best to get ahead of the controversy before the same accusations could be thrown at Xbox once Destiny 2‘s Xbox Scorpio frame-rate is revealed towards E3. Either way, Ybarra ended up stirring the pot somewhat rather than informing the conversation.
Developers are free to choose how they use the power of Project Scorpio for games. We have no requirements limiting framerate or fidelity.
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) May 19, 2017
Some are making the spurious assumption that the VP is subtly saying Destiny 2 will be 60fps on Xbox, but the statement seems much less subtle and should probably just be taken literally. Xbox simply doesn’t know what Bungie will decide to do with Destiny 2 on Xbox Scorpio. After all, that’s Bungie’s decision.
Alternatively Mike Ybarra could be implying that the Xbox team does know and that the Xbox Scorpio will also run Destiny 2 at 30fps, which seems like a forgone conclusion at this point.
Bungie’s explanation for capping Destiny 2 at 30fps even on PlayStation 4 Pro reads perfectly well if you replace the platform with the Xbox Scorpio. Here’s Mark Noseworthy, Project Lead on Destiny 2, explaining the issue:
“But there’s tons of GPU power in the PS4 Pro. That’s why we’re doing 4K, right? It’s on the CPU side. Destiny’s simulation, like we have more AI, more monsters in an environment with physically simulated vehicles and characters and projectiles, and it’s part of the Destiny magic, like that, like 30 seocnds of fun, like coming around a corner and throwing a grenade, popping a guy in the head, and then you add like 5, 6, 7 other players in a public event; that is incredibly intensive for hardware.”
The Xbox Scorpio has an incrementally more powerful CPU than the PlayStation 4 Pro, clocking in at 2.3GHz to the Pro’s 2.1 GHz. Each has its own customizations beyond clock, but there’s certainly no room for an additional 30fps in the Xbox Scorpio’s CPU headway. The GPU on the Scoprio is significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro’s, but as Noseworthy says — that’s why Bungie’s doing 4K. Scorpio uses that extra GPU for a native 4K display, where the Pro uses checkerboard rendering to emulate 4K using less power.
The point being that, as it ever is, the online controversy is silly. Destiny 2 is going to look outstanding in 30fps, because Bungie believes that’s the best decision for Destiny 2. There’s no console war here, even in subtext. Microsoft’s lack of a parity requirement is a pro-consumer, pro developer decision and should be applauded. The 60fps Destiny 2 dream was simply to good to be true — at least until the PC version of the game launches.
Destiny 2 launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting September 8. The PC version of the game has no current release window.