When the Xbox Series X and S were announced, one of the features touted by Microsoft was their support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound. One of the things Microsoft didn’t announce at the time, however, was that the partnership was apparently exclusive.
Update 2/06: In a statement provided to The Verge’s senior editor Tom Warren, Microsoft is now saying that the blog post was “mistakenly published” by the Xbox France team, and that there is “no exclusivity agreement” between Dolby and the Xbox ecosystem:
"A blog post was mistakenly published by a local Xbox team that included inaccurate information regarding exclusivity of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X|S. There is no exclusivity agreement of either tech on Xbox," says Microsoft.
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) June 1, 2021
“We are proud to partner with Dolby to offer Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision to gamers on Xbox and will have more to share about the general availability of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X|S soon,” Microsoft added.
That would open the door for other platforms, like the Nintendo Switch or the PS5, to adopt both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos in the future. There’s less incentive for PS5 users to have Dolby Atmos, but having Dolby Vision support on all consoles is a definite win. It also makes you wonder what might be possible with the upgraded Switch/Switch Pro that’s expected to launch later this year, which will support 4K output for TVs. The Switch doesn’t currently support HDR or any advanced audio features, but Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision there would be a bonus.
The original story continues below.
Dolby Vision has been available to those on the Xbox Insider ring since mid-May. Despite some initial hiccups with the implementation, Dolby Vision should be an improvement over regular HDR. Dolby Vision provides scene-by-scene data so TVs can constantly adjust for the correct colour, contrast and brightness of what’s on screen at any given moment, instead of mapping based on static metadata profile that covers the entirety of a piece of content. In short, it enables a more accurate, vivid picture on a moment-to-moment basis, provided your TV is capable of displaying it.
“Dolby Vision goes beyond classic HDR and delivers brightness, contrast, colour, and depth that impress. Bright areas can be up to 40 times deeper, and black levels are 10 times deeper,” a translation of the original Xbox Wire post added.
Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support was announced for the next-gen Xbox before their launch, but it’s only recently that the feature has actually been enabled in the real world. There are some caveats: as Gizmodo Australia found during its Sony X90J test last week, you can’t have Dolby Vision and 4K/120Hz support at the same time, only 4K/60Hz.
TV manufacturers are working on fixing that, however. But we also don’t whether games have to be fully optimised to take advantage of Dolby Vision, or if games will just start displaying all HDR content in Dolby Vision on capable TVs, like they did earlier this year when a beta version of the feature went live.
For now, a list on the Dolby website notes that Cyberpunk 2077, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Call of Duty Warzone, DiRT 5, and Gears 5 all support Dolby Vision.
The original French Xbox Wire post had a small visual mockup to hype the difference between SDR content and Dolby Vision content — which isn’t really that useful, but the video has been reuploaded online so you can see for yourself.
While Dolby Atmos sound is also part of this deal, that one is less of a kicker since the PS5 has its 3D audio, which works with any brand of headset. Dolby Atmos on Xbox is a separate license, and while the Xbox-Dolby partnership gives Xbox Wireless Headset owners a free trial until September 30, 2021, anyone wanting improved sound will have to purchase Dolby Atmos after that point. Sony’s 3D solution for the PS5, meanwhile, is free for all owners regardless of hardware.