Microsoft and Sony have been so infuriatingly quiet about their next-gen consoles in 2020 that desperate gamers have been scouring every corner of the internet in search of clues about what the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 might have to offer. For the most part, there hasn’t been much to find, but even the tiniest of details is enough to set off a firestorm, which is what happened when people started poking through the GDC 2020 schedule.
Spotted by Wccftech on Wednesday, Microsoft will be hosting a session at the 2020 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco called “Building Audio Gateways Into Immersive Worlds With Spatial Sound.” This might not sound like the most exciting talk of the week, but check the description to see why it caught our eye:
Learn from the audio designers of Borderlands 3 and Gears of War 5 around how a collaboration between Microsoft, Dolby, and our middleware partners kicked off a revolution with spatial sound that turns any pair of headphones into a multi-dimensional gateway to another world. Attendees will dive deep into the audio design pipeline (Project Acoustics) and the relationship to dedicated hardware-acceleration on newer generation Xbox consoles.
When Microsoft officially announced the Xbox Series X last December, we learned several interesting details about the power of the new console, such as its custom AMD processor, its ability to play games at up to 8K resolution and 120FPS, and its next-gen SSD which will “virtually eliminate load times.” Microsoft didn’t say anything about audio at the time, but thanks to GDC, we seemingly now have confirmation of hardware-acceleration.
Once again, this is incredibly vague, and Microsoft did mention hardware acceleration as it relates to ray tracing in its blog post about the Xbox Series X, but this is the first we’re hearing about how Microsoft plans to improve the audio of the next Xbox. It’s also worth noting that Sony already committed to using hardware to enhance the audio experience of the PlayStation 5 when Mark Cerny spoke to Wired last year:
The AMD chip also includes a custom unit for 3D audio that Cerny thinks will redefine what sound can do in a videogame. “As a gamer,” [Cerny] says, “it’s been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”
All of this will be cleared up when Sony and Microsoft finally host events to fully unveil their next-gen consoles, but for now, tidbits like these are all we’re getting when it comes to leaks.