Microsoft has found a solution to help developers reduce the power consumption of their games


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Microsoft has found a solution to help developers reduce the power consumption of their gamesBy providing developers with tools to measure in real time the power consumption needed to run their video games, Microsoft hopes to help them produce games that consume less energy.

Microsoft wants to put developers to work to reduce the carbon impact of its Xbox. The US company took advantage of the 2023 Game Developers Conference, currently taking place in San Francisco, to unveil new “specific energy and carbon emissions metrics designed for (and with) game makers”. Indeed, the Redmond company will offer developers various tools that will allow them to measure in real time the energy consumption necessary for the proper execution of their games.

Real-time monitoring of energy consumption

Reconciling reduced power consumption and gaming performance is no easy task. However, Microsoft explains that finding the code responsible for overconsumption of energy in a game is not necessarily synonymous with cost or extra time in game development. The company also ensures that the energy optimizations introduced in the game code are created can be completely unnoticeable to the players.

To help developers better understand the energy intensity required for their games, Microsoft will provide them with an Xbox Developer Sustainability Toolkit. Developers can use it to ” identify and reduce power consumption in scenarios where a player doesn’t need it, so that the player’s experience isn’t negatively impacted “.

This toolkit provides developers with a development kit (GDK) in which various measuring instruments are integrated. They can view real-time information about their game’s energy consumption, down to the millisecond. It allows them to measure CPU usage and thereby identify energy inefficiencies that can be addressed.

Microsoft will also provide them with a certification report that they can use to identify their game’s average power consumption. The purpose of the operation is to allow them to see where their game ranks compared to the industry average.

Developers also get access to an energy usage dashboard. With this tool, they can get an overview of the global average of the amount of energy used by their games and compare it to the platform’s global average. Finally, advice and a good practice guide will be made available to them through the Xbox Game Dev Docs program set up by Microsoft.

Tools designed in collaboration with gaming industry giants

To create all these tools, Microsoft did not work alone. The Mountain View company indicates that it collaborates with various studios, such as Ubisoft or 343 Industries. Thanks to Microsoft tools, the latter was also able to optimize its Halo games.

Indeed, the studio has realized that on the Xbox Series X running in 4K / 60FPS, the graphics processor was used on average at 92%, which is 67.5% of the console’s power consumption. By ramping up its research a bit, the studio realized that this consumption was identical when the game was paused. For what? Simply because a 4K image was displayed in the Settings menu that the player could not see. By reducing the definition of this image, they managed to reduce their game’s power consumption by almost 15% when paused, without impacting users’ gaming experience. .

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