Xbox just pushed out an update that enables carbon-aware downloads, making it the first games console to do so. It’s one of several sustainability features coming to the green-themed gaming device.
Changing the (carbon) game
In a blog post detailing the recently released February Update, Xbox’s Jonathan Hildebrandt unpacked just how the console would make better use of power management and download scheduling to benefit the environment.
With the update installed, the console will be able to look for the best time to schedule game downloads and updates, aiming for times where a higher proportion of electricity is being supplied by lower-carbon sources on the electrical grid. The thinking is that by scheduling downloads during these specific windows, enabled Xboxes would create less demand for fossil-fuels and contribute to lower CO2 emissions. Console owners will require regional carbon intensity data to be available in order to utilise the new feature.
Over twelve months, every pair of Xbox consoles that switch to the new default power mode will save the equivalent amount of carbon removed by one tree that’s been planted and grown for ten years.
Each updated console would also have smarter power management thanks to a change to the core system settings. Consoles that receive the February Update will now default to the Shutdown (energy saving) option when users decide to power down their Xboxes. The change means that power use should be cut by up to 20x when the console is off as compared to the current Sleep power option. The company claims that over twelve months, every pair of Xbox consoles that switch to the new default power mode will save the equivalent amount of carbon removed by one tree that’s been planted and grown for ten years.
Users who prefer to keep their console in Sleep mode will still be able to continue to do so. In fact, the company has sought to reduce the latency that is traditionally associated with resuming from Sleep mode. Thanks to the February Updated, console owners can set ‘active hours’ which will help keen the console in a fast-booting state during times when gamers are likely to want to use their systems.
Whilst it’s a step in the right direction, power usage from consoles is still a big deal, both for consumers and the environment. The latest Xbox update guides users to new settings and defaults designed to reduce power consumption, with the flexibility of changing back. It’s clear that the company is thinking about ways to reduce its environmental impact and is planning on releasing more updates and initiatives that push Xbox and its users toward a greener future.
The update is available now for Xbox Series X, S and Xbox One owners who can download it by navigating to Settings > System > Updates on their console.