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What the Xbox One's new developer update means for games, according to Microsoft

This month's update to the Xbox One XDK — the software development kit that game makers use to build their titles — aims to give developers more system resources. That should mean better looking games and, according to Xbox Software Engineering director of development Kareem Choudhry, more flexibility to manage those system resources.

What it doesn't mean, Choudhry explained in a post on Xbox Wire, is an automatic performance upgrade in existing games.

With the June XDK update, Xbox One devs will have "more choice and flexibility to manage the resources of the Xbox One to deliver bigger and richer game experiences," he said.

"Previously, 10 percent of the GPU was reserved for system level processing which included Kinect-related skeletal tracking data," Choudhry wrote. "With this change, titles that are not using skeletal tracking with Kinect can choose to use that portion of the system reserve for other purposes. We have also optimized the entire system so that titles have access to 100 percent of the Xbox One GPU for increased resolution and graphical effects."

Voice commands at the system level, things like "Xbox, on" and "Xbox, record that" won't go away, but developers can disable Kinect's depth and infrared sensors which enable biometric sign-in, skeletal tracking and controller pairing to free up system resources. Kinect's RGB color camera will continue to function, even if its other features have been turned off.

"The full Kinect experience including skeletal tracking is automatically re-enabled when the user switches back to Home (or other applications), even while in the middle of a game," Choudhry said.

Microsoft says it's working with developers to help them take advantage of the GPU performance boost enabled in the XDK update, and notes that games like Destiny and Sunset Overdrive are already taking advantage of it.

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