PlayStation 5 SSD Power May Require Xbox Series X Developers to Make Compromises

A Microsoft employee hints that the PS5's powerful SSD could require third-party developers to make changes to Xbox Series X games.

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Photo: Microsoft

William Stillwell, the manager of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality program, has suggested that Xbox Series X developers will find ways to work around the PS5’s advantage in SSD technology.

“I understand that it’s a marketing point and a high point – and I think I said in the last podcast we did, I’m really impressed with what they’ve done in the architecture with their drive and I think they’ll be able to do really cool stuff with it,” says Stillwell in an interview with Iron Lords Podcast regarding the PS5’s SSD technology. “I also don’t think it’s as impressive over what you’ll be able to do [with Xbox Series X] and so I have high confidence in that team. I will also say – look, I reserve the right to wake up smarter tomorrow and someone may prove me wrong and we’ll learn. The one thing I have learned is [to] never underestimate game developers’ [ability] to take advantage of something and work around it, but that works on both sides.”

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What’s particularly fascinating about these statements is that Stillwell doesn’t seem to be entirely downplaying the power advantages of the PS5’s SSD technology. Instead, he goes so far as to suggest that Xbox Series X developers may have to alter Xbox ports slightly differently in order to compensate for the difference in SSD power.

“So the ability of a game developer to look and say, ‘Ok, I am building this game and I wanna have seamless transition with no loading screens on [PS5], but I am also gonna wanna sell on Xbox, what am I gonna do to manage that kinda thing?” Stillwell explains. “I am just making this up, [but] maybe there are elevators in the Xbox Series X version and not on the [PS5] version. I don’t know yet how they’re gonna address it, but they’ll learn to address it and they will figure out ways to work around it.”

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To be clear, Stillwell notes that he does not speak for the entirety of Microsoft or individual developers who may make games for PS5 and Xbox Series X. Instead, he’s suggesting that developers will ultimately find ways to compensate for performance differences and that first-party Xbox Series X developers will naturally be able to take full advantage of the console’s capabilities.

Still, there’s something to be said about the nature of this comment in regards to the potential power differences between these next-gen consoles. In our breakdown of the PS5 vs. the Xbox Series X, we noted that the Series X appears to be generally more powerful, but that the PS5’s clearly more advanced SSD could close the gap in a meaningful way.

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We’ll be interested to see whether or not the difference between the two consoles’ SSDs really proves to be quite so great as to force third-party developers to incorporate such notable design differences.