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Matt Booty on Xbox and Scarlett: "we want there to be choice"

We talked to the head of Xbox Game Studios at E3 about xCloud, backward compatibility, working with Nintendo, and the company's next console, Project Scarlett.

Microsoft had a whole bunch of interesting announcements to make during this year's E3, including the acquisition of Double Fine, a plethora of first-party games, an evolution to their subscription services, and new hardware in the form of Project Scarlett.

Naturally, when we spoke to the head of Xbox Game Studios, Matt Booty, the company's next-gen hardware was one of the topics up for the discussion, in particular, the platform holder's desire to give its users a choice to either stick with their console or upgrade for the best-in-class experience.

"We want to make sure that a new game like Halo Infinite looks best, plays best on Project Scarlett, but we also want to make sure that our games run up and down the Xbox One family," Booty told Gamereactor in LA. "So there will be, sort of similar to what you might do with a PC, the game is going to need to know on which device it's running and will need to take advantage of the power that's there."

Like Booty points out, developers have long been scaling the performance of games on PC, and that's something that studios will have to bear in mind when working on games for Xbox moving forward. That said, the growing collection of teams that form Xbox Game Studios has access that should make their lives easier.

"We have the advantage of being Xbox Game Studios. We get to work very closely with the people that make the hardware for Project Scarlett. We know what is in there, we know how to get the most [out] of it, we can just walk across the street to talk to the people that are working on the actual hardware.

"Same as with Windows. We have access to the people working on DirectX, the people working on a lot of new Xbox features that we've added to Windows 10. So there is definitely an advantage there, but again, we want there to be choice. We want it to work across the family of Xbox One devices, but play best on Scarlett."

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Booty went on to talk about backward compatibility, and how their efforts have gone into not just making sure that games perform best on next-gen hardware, but that the very same hardware also supports players' existing libraries.

"All of the work that we've done on backwards compatibility to make sure that the newest device that you have plays things. I mean, we now support four generations of games with a whole bunch of games that came online for back compat that ran on the original Xbox, games from the 360, games from Xbox One, and now Project Scarlett - so we have four generations of devices that we'll support [with] backwards compatibility.

"So when those things start to show up, how they show up, most of that we leave with the game teams, but I think you make a great point that is our goal in terms of player choice, is that we allow people to bring their library of games forward."

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Another interesting topic of conversation was the budding relationship that Microsoft enjoys with Nintendo.

"Nintendo's a great partner," Booty admitted before adding that, "they've been great helping us get Minecraft onto the Switch. We also have been able to bring Xbox Live over to the Switch. And the version of Minecraft that's on a Switch is the same one that runs on an Xbox, it is literally the same code base. So that's very important to us, we don't want there to be islands of the game that are lower quality or play differently.

"Nintendo is a big company. Microsoft is a big company. There will be places where we cooperate, I think there will be places where we compete. In the case of Nintendo, I think it's a very friendly competition. There's places they're very good - they've got some amazing assets, amazing IP, amazing characters. I think that we've got some strength in terms of platform services and things.

"There certainly has been some discussions but I think really we're focused right now on the places where we have a partnership, for example, with the Minecraft content coming over to Switch. And like I said, they've been a great partner."