Xbox One dev takes to Reddit to answer fan questions
posted on 07.13.13 at 04:02 PM EDT by (@salromano)
DRM, Family Sharing, Kinect, hardware, and more discussed.

An anonymous Xbox One developer, confirmed legitimate by the Xbox One sub-reddit moderators, has taken to Reddit for an AMA (ask me anything) about Microsoft’s November-due next-gen console.

We’ve compiled the majority of the answers below. The developer discusses everything from DRM to Kinect to the price to the canned Family Plan and so on.


What was your reaction to the DRM reversal, and now this petition?

Personally I was a little surprised at the timeframe which we decided on the DRM reversal. I thought we didn’t push on its benefits enough.

The petition shows there are lots of people who want these benefits as much as I do and clearly our execs care or Marc Whitten wouldn’t have referred to it in his IGN interview.

Family Sharing

Would it be possible to bring back Family Sharing even if only for digitally downloaded games?

I believe Marc Whitten answers this in the IGN interview he gave. I sure hope we bring it back.

Was the Family Sharing how everyone imagined it to be like (sharing games with 10 people only 2 game play one at the same time) or was it glorified demos ?

It was for full games. Can’t comment too much on this but its purpose was to eliminate the need to ever have to physically hand someone a game that you bought to share with them.


Is Kinect capable of TrackIR features? I want to do a flying game and look around.

Looked up TrackIR briefly and it seems to be using an IR receiver and transmitter mounted on a headset.

The Kinect is capable of face tracking as shown in the Kinect demos we did for our internet media outlets. In addition to face tracking, we can determine the rotational position of your head so I have no doubt those features can be implemented.

What do you feel is the best feature of the Xbox One that people have little knowledge about?

The majority of the masses care only about the console, except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make.

What is the goal for having a Kinect ship with the Xbox?

The goal with having a Kinect ship with every Xbox is to guarantee to game developers if they implement Kinect features into their games, everyone who has an Xbox will be able to experience it. I often see people dismiss the Kinect instantly because they haven’t seen it work like I have. It is an integral part of the Xbox One experience.

Couldn’t you include it in the box and not require it to be hooked up?

The number of features on the Xbox One that uses the Kinect is almost too many to count. I can’t imagine using the console without it. To me, I see two ways to deal with this.

1) Not require the Kinect to be always plugged in and have all these features turned off by default.

2) Enable these features by default and turn them off if people choose to turn off the Kinect.

The first choice would undermine our guarantee to game developers.


How long did it take for you to come up with the name?

We found out what it was called when Don Mattrick told us during the reveal.

How loud is the console?

Almost inaudible. I run three at a time and they are drowned out by the fans in the desktops.

Compared to the last one, how is the reliability of the console?

Can’t comment on this as it’s not my area of expertise. But if you compare the failure rates of the launch 360 with the current 360 S. It should give you an idea.

Do you know anything about the rumor that Microsoft is upping the clock speed on the retail version? If you can’t answer that, do you think that the Xbox One is at disadvantage with it’s current specs compared to the PS4?

Can’t comment on the rumor.

The facts are on paper, the PS4 has better specs and the most you can debate is by how much. What I can tell you is I have played Forza, Killer instinct, and Ryse on the Xbox One. They look as good as the games I play on a high end PC. Ryse reminded me of Darksiders II.

Is there anything you would change about the hardware if you could?

The specs of the hardware were determine by people a lot more knowledgeable than I am. I’m not one to question this. I’m sure they were tested and re-tested to find a balance in price vs performance based on our manufacturing capabilities.

Let’s cut to the chase. Were the yield rumors true? Are they still true? Is there any truth to the upgrade rumors?

Don’t know, no official word within the company.

A lot of this information, we don’t hear about it until they are announced to the public.

Do you know what the thought process is behind not shipping with a headset? I understand that Kinect will be the microphone for those who don’t buy the headset, but how come nobody thought that voice through speakers is a terrible idea?

This is one of those things they don’t tell us until everyone else knows. But I have heard a wired headset will be included.

How does DirectX 11.2 compare to OpenGL, and what advantages does it give you that OpenGL doesn’t do just as well/at all? The Xbox One architecture – how does it compare to earlier machines? Will it be easy to code and optimize for? Would we also see the best graphics on Xbox this generation as well? (Multiplatform)

I code apps for the Xbox One like I code for Win8 apps.


How smooth is the interface with snapping? Can you snap between digital games or not? Is the TV input lagging like it was in that Wired interview

Snapping is only available to certain apps such as IE, Skype, the game DVR upload tool, etc. Game titles cannot be snapped. I have not tried TV input but I did hook up a PC to the Xbox and watched Netflix while I Skyped someone.

When you say games can’t be snapped you mean you can’t have them be the smaller view right? You can have other apps next to the game but you can’t have IE with Killer Instinct as the smaller snap on the right?

Yes, AAA titles cannot be snapped (shown in smaller view). IE can however be snapped to look up how to perform a combination while you play.


What’s the atmosphere like in the office? When you come up with a new idea, how easy is it to pitch it to your boss or a team?

The team is huge, almost 1000 people. Most people in Microsoft have their own offices, it’s the way Microsoft have been since it started. For the Xbox team however, we have mostly large open spaces (thank Bungie for that), with the most senior people having their own offices. The average time employed at Microsoft to get your own office in the Xbox team is about 10 years. The division provides us free of charge a 24-hour snack bar, dinner every day, and breakfast and lunch on the weekends if we choose to come in. In addition to that the team provides additional sustenance and booze whenever we all get together and show off what we did in the past couple weeks. There’s no way I can throw in 60 hours/week for the long term if the environment was overly stressful.

Almost every subgroup within the team works on something that is related to the Kinect in some way. I personally come in contact with 4 or 5 different subgroups in a day.

What was everyone’s reaction at the office after the flaming outcry the day after E3?

It was quite moot. One of our execs had mentioned a Sony dev came up to him at E3 and told him you won the games, we won the gamers.

You obviously came here to share information. What was that information?

My purpose here is not to reveal technical information but to show you that us devs are consumers too. Some of the policies we too only heard the day of the reveal or at E3. We too, ponder about their pros and cons. I can tell you we have heated discussions on our policies all the time internally. Engineering practices have taught us there are always trade offs. We lay out all the benefits of different policies and figure out what we have to give up in order to obtain those benefits.

The positive comments we read make us happy. The negatives give us the impression that we are evil and the Xbox One might as well be the Troll box. I have confidence in our management that all their decisions are always well debated before they come to a plan of action.

Thanks, NeoGAF.

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  • Invisbin

    “You won the games, but we won the gamers.”

    Sony can be the most effective trolls in history.

    • MogCakes

      Dat facial hair

  • articuzwolf

    “Snapping is only available to certain apps such as IE…”

    cannot hold my urge to stop reading entirely
    really microsoft?

  • lorelai4cuties

    “You won the games, but we won the gamers.”

    best line and its very true :]

  • ECM

    You obviously came here to share information. What was that information?

    To help staunch the bleeding. Full stop.

  • Torbjorn Olsson

    He didn’t really share anything? I read nothing that I didn’t already know?

  • Willgaea

    I would never tell the policies of our next console to the people that help develop them. Trust doesn’t go that far I guess. Dam Microsoft.

  • xMCXx

    “The majority of the masses care only about the console, except that the
    success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs
    almost as much as the console to make.”
    There was not one good Kinect game.
    Kinect itself did not work properly, it was horrible, yet MS keeps beating this dead horse.
    Why would I make some kinda movements with my hands if I can just press a button?
    Voice Command is the only thing that might be useful, IF it works.
    And this abomination costs almost as much as the console?!

    • GhostNomad

      I’m happy that the success of the Kineck carries so much weight to them, but…. Few people gave a damn about it. Why take something that a VERY large portion of people didn’t want in the first place and force it on consumers?

    • Nathan O

      Maybe because it does work properly now? Maybe because they sold 24 million devices in the course of a year and a half? Maybe MS is looking for a product that storms the marketplace the same way the original iPhone did. Just so you know, voice recognition works pretty damn well on the current Kinect and I expect to see even more improvements on Kinect 2

      • xMCXx

        24 million sold Kinects, even though it didn’t work as intended and not one good game for it?
        Jesus Christ, we are beyond salvation.
        In the future the Kinect will share the same fate as the Sixaxis, probably. A gimmick and nothing more.

  • ギャビン

    1) Not require the Kinect to be always plugged in and have all these features turned off by default.


  • kuusou yume

    If the system isn’t even assembled yet why does it need a Day One patch update?

    Still debating if I will keep my pre-order or not.

    • Zero

      I think the day one patch is for the policies. You need to apply the patch to remove them.

      Personally, while I’m glad they took smart steps and backed off the policies. I’m not excited enough by the games they have shown to Pre-Order or purchase the X1.

      • kuusou yume

        That’s the thing though. The product is still months away from release. Why can’t they patch it before shipping to stores?

        And I agree, the only game that looked interesting to me was the game from Remedy & it’s not a launch game I don’t think.

        I’ll most likely sell the X1 preorder on eBay.

        • Zero

          Good question. I could think up a few possible reasons, but only Microsoft knows for sure.

          I wonder how crazy the ebay buyers will be for the new consoles?

        • DrForbidden

          I suspect the reason they can only patch the OS is because MS originally designed the OS from the ground up as using all these ‘features’. They would be unable to remove them as they are part of the building blocks of the OS. To remove the ‘features’ entirely, they would have to scrap the entire OS and start anew, and this is something that cannot be done without spending a year or two. Using patches would be the most logical and efficient method.

      • Luna Kazemaru

        i still find it ironic you need a patch for that when they could just ninja patch all that shit back in.

  • Bryce Blalex Douglas

    Microsoft needs to stop allowing “anonymous” Microsoft employees to do stuff like this. It just continues to make them look like they don’t know what they’re doing anymore. While nothing he says makes them look inherently worse, it really just gives people more reason to talk negatively about them.

    • Sal Romano

      As I said above, he’s anonymous because he’s acting on his own free will. He’d probably get fired if they found out who was answering these questions. They’re not “allowing” him to do anything.

  • uhawww

    “The facts are on paper, the PS4 has better specs and the most you can debate is by how much.”


  • rockman29

    Ryse reminded him of Darksiders 2? Lol, gtfo.

    ” Engineering practices have taught us there are always trade offs. ”

    This is such utter BS. Engineering has nothing to do with the software that MS decided to make. The software determined the services available.

    Unless he meant “software engineering” which is here nor there… there’s no tradeoffs as far as building the machine vs. what features you can offer as far as online and accounts go.

    When people talk “tradeoffs” in building machines, that means hardware 9 times out of 10. To build a quality reliable device and cutting costs at the same time, that is managing tradeoffs. Prescribing shitty services on the Xbone and having 3 hypervisors has nothing to do with “tradeoffs” that just has to do with fucking MS being retarded.

    Utter BS this guy is. So the hell what if you have internal debates? Does anyone at the top give a shit about what the engineers think?

    That’s the difference between MS and Sony. Sony’s top brass discovered what’s important at the end of the day, and that’s giving the software and hardware tech experts control over the future of their console.

    MS brass noobs prescribed something to their console builders obviously. They only heard about it at E3? Lol, some good communication with the hardware and games teams over there.

    Who’d have thunk it. Sony opening dialogue and letting guys like Cerny make decisions for the future of their console. Letting the EXPERTS do their job. Let people who love games and want to make a good product like Yoshida make the business calls.

    Who haven’t thunk that was a good idea. Really. Not MS obviously.

    • slasaru

      What was that unknown thing that Cerny said on the stage in comparison to that dev?

      And what is “thunk”? Sorry i’m no native English speaker

      • DrForbidden

        ‘Thunk’ is a slang form of ‘thought’.

  • TetsuyaHikari

    I love how they mentioned clock speed, as if that’s a determining factor. This dev is the reason why some of these noobs are running around going, “herp derp, XBOX One can compete with PS4 because of clock speed, gg lolololol”

    Processing power does play a role, yes, but it’s not the most important part that will determine the difference between both consoles. That would be RAM. PS4 excels in this department, so they could make their “PC” looking titles all they want to on XBOX One, but PS4 will still be able to make their games look better AND process more due to having way more RAM than XBOX One.

    I’d trust this “dev” as much as I’d trust anything I read on Reddit. In other words, apparently they’re just accepting anyone off the street as a dev for XBOX One.

    • Nathan O

      except that digital foundry recently discovered that the XB1 DDR3 and ESRAM combo can produce bandwidth speeds of 196GB/sec as opposed to the GDDR5 176/GB per sec. might be a little easier to code for PS4 as it has unified RAM but devs are already very familiar with utilizing ESRAM or EDRAM to compensate for bandwidth speeds so really the differences between the two consoles will be minimum

      • Shadow

        Combining those stats to get 196GB/s is wrong, It’s like buying two cars that go 100mph, duct taping them together and saying it does 200mph…

    • LordKaiser

      Reminds me of SEGA Genesis/mega Drive “Blast processor”.

  • abcmocca .

    sony sent cerney to dialogue and M$, anonymous random guy, wtf.

    • Sal Romano

      Microsoft didn’t “send” anyone. This guy is acting on his own free will, thus his anonymous status.

      • carrebeannut

        yeah,maybe this guy afraid losing his job like don mattrick, after say ps4 has better specs.

        • TetsuyaHikari

          He should be even more afraid of losing his job now after making himself look like a moron… And just think! He did this VOLUNTARILY.


  • Learii

    ps4 turn =D

  • CaptainSatanica

    They have the same amount of ram the difference is they use ddr3 so onky diffrence ram wise is the ps4 ram is faster

    • TetsuyaHikari

      Yeah and the only difference between my new PC and my old PC is that one has USB 3.0 while the other has USB 2.0, but hey… They do the same thing, right? Speed doesn’t matter that much, right? Right…?

      • CaptainSatanica

        Speed is very important

        • TetsuyaHikari

          I see my sarcastic remark went right over your head =3=

          Of course speed is important! The files that used to take 20 minutes or longer to transfer on my old PC can now transfer in 5 minutes or less.

          • CaptainSatanica

            I knew you were being sarcastic just didn’t want to let you down

    • xMCXx

      Way faster as far as I know.

  • Nightcore34

    I have to admit to me M$ is losing cause I don’t look for specs cause i’m a gamer not a tech expert, I care about whether or not I can play my fave games on the system, such as final fantasy, kingdom hearts, disgaea, atelier and more.

    • TetsuyaHikari

      Well, they may be able to fool those that aren’t “tech experts”, but anyone that knows their ass from their elbow can tell you that MS is blowing smoke, lol. It just sucks that the gamers outweigh the people that knows what’s under the hood of their console, so they can capitalize on that and make the gamer feel relieved in knowing they are making a worthwhile purchase as a consumer.

      • Nightcore34

        well it’s working, to me an xbox or sony product is just something to allow me to play my games, I will flock to the console that has many of the games I like.

      • asdfaasdf

        i’m a engineer and i can confirm what ms guy says about the console. while hardware is important in getting a faster machine, it means NOTHING if the software is poorely design. as we’ll the what he said of ESRAM being 5 mb of read AND write is purely astound. the other thing, is that it is true that more cores != faster system.
        This is because of many things

        1) programs are going to have to take advantage of the core. granted gamers are most likely going to try take advantage of as many cores, but still iit requires skill to make a multi-core (not multi threaded) application.

        2) there is a limit to how many cores you can use. furthermore just because you have say 16 cores does not mean that you have access to all the cores. how man are redudant (if i remember the ps3 has 6 cores, but 2 more backup in case the other four failed)

        3)more cores != faster system. you can’t just i’ll an extra cpu and my application (not system) is faster. at best you’ll get 1.6 ~ 1.7. The best I’ve seen multicore improve the system is about 1.9 and this was adding an array of a million integers. there are a lot of overhead that comes with a multicore application, and that is where you can a slow down in your system. i.e you have 16 cores all hitting the main memory chip at the same time, you’re limiting factor is the main bus line that goes to the chip. now there are ways to mitigate this, but there is a reason why you see that high end computers have eight cores for quite few years now. that is because no application can take the advantage of 16 cores and there really is no application that takes advantage of 8 cores.

        i’ll be happy to explain more about this in any questions. but remember I can have the best hardware, but it doesn’t matter if:
        a) the underlying system is bad and not performant
        b) no application does not take fully advantage of it

        p.s. i am not trying to say that sony has bad software or that gamers won’t take advantage of the hardware resources. But hardware specs are a part of the story.

  • Gilgamesh2025

    Microsoft just sucks! Sony ftw!

    • McPoo

      Nice avatar pic.

      • Gilgamesh2025

        Thanks! ^^

    • Sal Romano

      A few things to address.

      1) @Gilgamesh2025:disqus, feel free to have your preferences, but these types of comments don’t do much to generate discussion and typically start stupid comment wars. Rather, read the article and comment about something specific you found interesting. Doesn’t have to be positive or negative, but again, help the community grow.

      2) @gematsu-88cf91a1aef212f3c2cd12406983427d:disqus, Stop trolling. If you’ve read the guidelines, you’ll know we’re specifically against that. If you plan on sticking around, please adhere to these rules. I’ve seen you trolling in a few previous stories, so if it keeps up, I’ll have to ask that you leave.

      3) @TetsuyaHikari:disqus Comments like “Your balls haven’t even dropped yet” are childish and frowned upon. Please refrain from doing so. “We’re trying to create an environment where our readers can share their opinions openly and in a mature fashion.”

      • McPoo

        What’s the rules on responding to posts like the one I have done to in this topic?

        Fair enough, don’t be a dick on random stories, but what about here when it’s just challenging someone on an unnecessary post?

        Is it all fair if I’m nice and polite?

        • Sal Romano

          I’d suggest you just ignore them. Responding will just ignite the war. They’ll eventually get picked up by moderation.

          • McPoo

            Ah I see, my apologies. I thought the rules here would be more like Gamefaqs: say what you want as long as it’s not swearing or hate speech.

            On a side note, I’m starting a petition for a remake of classic PS2 brawler War of the Monsters. Would you offer your signature to it? It was a fantastic game and in need of a remake!

      • Gilgamesh2025

        Roger that!

      • TetsuyaHikari

        Ah, sorry. I didn’t even see this in My Disqus since it wasn’t directly posted as a reply back to my comment, lol. Well, you know I’ve been around the block a bit, Sal, heh. I tend to have a rather sharp tongue when it comes to certain situations.

        I suppose during the ‘heat of the moment’, I forget this is a place where many people visit and they will have to witness such behavior if it isn’t contained. It’s hard to see anything beyond you and the other person when there’s a discussion taking place. Regardless, I’ll try to sheath my tongue the next time I feel the need to give someone a good lashing, haha.

        Sorry about that, Sal. Keep up the good work~