Microsoft Helped To Better Diablo 3’s “Unacceptable” 900p Resolution

It’s not been an uncommon story to hear of games appearing on Xbox One at less than 1080p. With the resolution that a game can run at a tiringly prevalent topic of discussion, and some people quite keen to stick the boot in when it doesn’t compare favourably to the PlayStation 4, it’s good to see the recent instances where performance and visual quality has been improved.

Some of this will no doubt be down to the June SDK, which freed up resources for developers to use that had previously provided a buffer zone for potential future Kinect camera functionality, and so we’ve seen some patches to games like Titanfall, where improvements to frame rate have been noted on the patch list. In the case of Diablo 3 on Xbox One, there has been a day one patch that has upped the resolution from 900p to 1080p.

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry dove into both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game a week ago, finding that both held a solid 60 frames per second at 900p and 1080p respectively, but that this was tempered by animation hiccups and a frame doubling bug, which is being addressed in a patch. However, with the Xbox One patched to now run at 1080p, this version will now occasionally drop into 50-60 frames per second range.

Speaking to Digital Foundry, Blizzard’s Production Director John Hight revealed that the decision to go with 900p initially because they were struggling to have consistent enough performance at 1080p on the Xbox One. Then Microsoft stepped in:

We did find it challenging early on to get it to 1080p. That’s why we made the decision to drop to 900. That’s what we demoed and were showing around E3 time. And Microsoft was just like, ‘This is unacceptable. You need to figure out a way to get a better resolution.’ So we worked with them directly, they gave us a code update to let us get to full 1080p.

The wording here is particularly interesting, but potentially very easy to misconstrew. It sounds to me that Microsoft stepped in with direct support to make the best use of the June SDK and optimise the game so that it could run at nearly 1.5 times the original resolution, but the wording could also be read to mean that Microsoft pushed Blizzard to do so to the detriment of performance, even if these frame drops only really happen during the game’s extremes.

Either way, while some people would rather have the absolute consistency of 60 frames per second at 900p, it’s good to see Microsoft able to step in and assist in getting better performance out of their console.

Source: Digital Foundry

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6 Comments

  1. First off, the frame doubling was fixed in a day one patch on both systems. So that’s nothing to worry about. :-)

    I play this game on Xbone. I was actually playing it just a couple minutes ago. And I’m glad that Microsoft helped out here. From what I’ve gathered the use of the word “unacceptable” must be overplayed. I think it sounds way worse in text than in must have been said verbally. It’s not like Microsoft wouldn’t let Blizzard release the game at 900p…

    The decision to go full HD was a very good one, it looks nice and crisp. There’s no noticeable framedrops that I’ve encountered. And I play an effect-spamming wizard. Sure, it probably drops below 60, but it’s not noticable like Tomb Raider on PS4 (not a dig at Playstation, I loved TR on my PS4, but the framerate had very noticable fluctuations).

    It’s nice to see Microsoft help out third-party developers to make better use of their system.

  2. Slightly off topic but I think the price difference is more unacceptable! £25 on PC, 360 & PS3 and £45 on PS4 & XB1. They can’t say its due to the better performance as the PC will match or better anything on the consoles. Rant over!

    • That’s why my Xbone is set to the US… £36. ;-)

  3. It sounds a bit similar to when Sony sent their people out to a studio (or studios) to help them get their multiplatform game running well on PS3.
    Should bode well for future XB1 multiplatforms, if the updated SDK allowed them to achieve 1080p without having to compromise anything.

  4. Sorry guys, but this ‘practice’ really is’nt that new.Sony optimised the early Tomb raider code Core presented to them on Playstation 1, as when Core produced it, the frame rate was nigh-on unplayable according to chap i recently interviewed and Core were starting to get worried.

    Years later MS put people from Halo (Xbox) with the team working on Xbox Brute Force to get issues adressed.

    Any platform holder with an ounce of sense is going to ‘step in’ where possible to assist a developer trying to get the best performance from a cross-platform game running on it’s hardware.

    I can think of a good few examples where similar assistance was badly needed: Saturn Doom, PS1 Quake (7 developers tried and failed to get decent version running, took Hammerhead with quake II to set things straight), PS1 Hexen+Duke Nukem 3D, both weaker than the Saturn version.Xbox MGS II-slowdown with rain effects on the tanker etc.

    As long as the finished product plays to the strengths of the hardware, does it really matter who asked for what in terms of help?

    Also, least we forget at start of the 360’s life, MS were trying to ‘enforce’ all games on 360 must run at 720P unless we say otherwise, soon dropped that daft idea, same as Sega dropped the all Dreamcast games will run at 60 FPS notion.

    Personally i would’nt read too much into idea MS forced developer to go 1080P and damn the frame rate, kinda idea.

  5. “With the resolution that a game can run at a tiringly prevalent topic of discussion…” – I recall the last console generation being full to the brim of graphical comparisons, certainly well in to the mid-life cycle of the consoles, with the PS3 being the second placed console in every round. I find it only natural that we’re looking at similar comparisons now, but being balanced towards the PS4, and let’s face it, it’s a natural biological trait to strive for improvements by comparing and improving.
    The fact that the community has heaped so much ire on the Xbox One version of the game being run at 900p has pushed MS in to action and helped provide an improvement in the visuals of the game. Surely when people view something as being sub-standard and then action is taken to improve a product it can only be a good thing?

    With that in mind, why do you find the subject of comparison tiring? [discuss]

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