360 Games No Longer Have To Be In High Definition

Since the 360 launched in 2005, developers have had to work within a set of guidelines set down by Microsoft. One of those stipulated that games had to be running at a resolution of 1280x720 (720p). Not any more!

Black Rock Studio's (ATV, Split/Second) David Jefferies has, in his regular column on industry site Develop, revealed that Microsoft recently dropped the requirement, meaning games can—if they want/need to—be released in lower, standard definition resolutions.

Of course, some games on the 360 have already been released in sub-HD resolutions. Halo 3, for example, which Jefferies says was thanks to Bungie, "who got it waived".

Wonder how much this decision has to do with recent findings revealing that less than half of Gears of Wars 2's player base owns a high definition television?

Microsoft's new resolution [Develop, via Evil Avatar]


    This is a step backwards IMO. I know most don't have HD TVs but if a game is HD then at least it can still be presentable for non HD tvs. A nonHD game on a HD tv will just look fugly :(

    It's not like our 360 games are going to be running at SD resolutions now. All it means is that developers can take away a bit of the resolution to bump up things light lighting or improve framerate just like CoD4 and HALO3 did. How many people even noticed apart from pixel counters?

    Stable framerate with no tearing > 720p

    I don't think tooooo many will take advantage of it. I mean, developers who have already developed games for the 360 obviously have the right tools to dev. a game in 720 so it shouldn't prevent them from doing so again.

    It's only going to result in ugly looking games that people will whinge about and then they will receive crap reviews and some will avoid playing the game over something like this. Eh

    Is that why Resident Evil 5 had quite horrible lines through the video most of the time?? Because they had to stretch the hardware to make it HD?

      "Is that why Resident Evil 5 had quite horrible lines through the video most of the time?? Because they had to stretch the hardware to make it HD?"

      The jury is still out on the RE5 tearing issue, and its cause.

      Clearly, the MT engine is pushing the envelope on both consoles. The 360 version _can_ suffer from bad tearing, the PS3 version's framerate is not stable. Different design choices on each machine.

      However, not all 360 owners suffer from the tearing. I have my 360 connected to a 720p projector, and I don't see any tearing at all, in-game. (There is some in cut scenes, but it's not distracting.)

      By most accounts, the tearing comes on specific displays, mostly when 1080p is being used as the output. (If you set the output to 720p, and let the device do the scaling, the tearing problem may disappear for you.)

      This is a puzzle because the 360's Xenos basically gives you 720p->1080p upscaling for free, in hardware. (Unlike the PS3, which only gives you horizontal scaling at specific buffer sizes.)

      There's a couple of interesting Digital Foundry articles on the subject.

      In any case, though, this particular restriction had nothing to do with Resident Evil 5.

    "A nonHD game on a HD tv will just look fugly :("

    Maybe, but not always.

    In the first case, not all HD tvs are made the same. 720p still gets upscaled to 768, or 1080p. Some "HD" sets are pitiful, quality-wise.

    And there are a LOT of people with widescreen plasmas out there that only support 480p.

    Secondly, the removal of this stricture means that developers can concentrate on what's best for the GAME, rather than what's best for marketing dot points.

    A lot of people bring Halo 3, and how it's not HD. Well, it's not. However, Bungie made the choice to split the 360's buffer space up instead of going for 720p with AA. They did this so that they could instead use the available space for HDR lighting and post-processing effects.

    The result is that although the game is not HD, it really does shine (literally) when it comes to lighting. That's their call, and there are arguments for and against. They COULD have just done 720p with AA, but they'd have an inferior lighting model.

    And remember: games are still played in the millions by people with older TV sets. For these people, 720p is irrelevant. Yet, better lighting (or greater draw distance, or better shadows and particle effects and reflections) are still a win for them.

    CoD4 was worse, that had some terribly low res (border line SD) so i doubt this was ever a terribly strict mandate. PS3 titles are guilty of the same things, even infamous isnt true 720p.

    Indeed. On the PS3, many games change their resolution from one frame to another. It's clever, and dodgy, all at the same time. :)

    The "1080p" games are the biggest laugh though. What they don't say is that the game is almost always never Full HD (1920x1080p). They usually have some cockamamie sub-1920 horizontal resolution, which gets scaled on the fly. All so they can say "1080p!!!" in their marketing dot-points.

    I'd MUCH rather have a game that runs at a smooth, consistent 30fps at 720p or even 640p, with nice lighting and great post-processing (such as Left 4 Dead's screen effects) than a game that simply tries to sell you sheer resolution.

      Wipeout HD?

    The reality is we wont see true full HD (1080p, antialiased) games until the next generation. I bought a new samsung 1920x1080 monitor w/HDMI for my pc and figured i'd connect the xbox up to it to see how things look, and I have to say, its not good. Games that looked good on my sony 720p tv from across the room now look like absolute arse on this monitor. even though most decent titles are running at least 2x aa, its still a jagfest. Bring on the next next gen, I say!

    I don't think this is necessary, unless there is a large budget gap between producing a game in HD and SD. Otherwise there's no point since, despite not being the CURRENT majority, HDTV's will probably be completely mainstream in a year or so.

    *writes up x360 listing on feebay*

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