Xbox Series X Optimized games promise 4K up to 120fps, ray tracing, and fast load times

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Microsoft is revealing a new Optimized for Xbox Series X badge today, designed to show which games will run best on the next-gen console. Optimized games will take advantage of Xbox Series X features like 4K resolution at up to 120fps, DirectStorage, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and faster load times. The optimized badge means titles will have been tweaked, in some way, by developers for the new console.

Developers are “using the power [of the Xbox Series X] to optimize their games the way they want,” explains Damon Baker, head of global portfolio at Xbox. “Higher resolutions, crazy frame rates, ray tracing, and yes faster in-game load times.”

Game developers will now be able to optimize their games for the new Xbox Series X console with higher frame rates up to 120fps. It’s something we’ll now likely see more broadly, thanks to the improved 12 teraflop GPU in the Series X. There’s also a big push for ray tracing in games here, a technique that’s typically used to generate real-time light reflections and cinematic effects.

While 4K support is part of the optimized badge, it’s not clear if this definition will be limited to 4K Native or include Checkerboarding and Dynamic Resolution techniques. We asked Microsoft about this, but the company didn’t clarify.

“Games optimized for Xbox Series X will showcase unparalleled load-times, visuals, responsiveness and framerates up to 120 fps, however, it will be up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X, including which next-gen technologies they leverage and implement in their games,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft’s optimized definition also includes the promise of fast load times and the use of DirectStorage. Fast load times are an obvious byproduct of an SSD alone, but combined with DirectStorage, it could change the way games are developed and how they load parts of a scene.

DirectStorage is a new I/O system for the Xbox Series X, designed to use hardware compression and the SSD to improve load times and reduce strain on the CPU. DirectStorage specifically reduces CPU overhead from intense I/O operations like streaming big assets to dynamically load parts of an open-world game. This is part of DirectX and is designed to free up the CPU to focus on areas like physics or adding more NPCs in a scene.

The new badge looks similar to the “Enhanced” logo Microsoft used for Xbox One X games. Enhanced was always somewhat confusing, as developers could choose from a range of ways to improve their games for Microsoft’s previous powerful Xbox. Most of the time it meant game developers had taken advantage of the Xbox One X hardware, but it also included games where developers had simply used the latest dev tools. Microsoft also had separate 4K and HDR logos before, with the 4K definition including Native 4K, Checkerboarding, and Dynamic Resolution.

Update: May 7th, 2:20PM ET: Article updated with comment from Microsoft.

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