Microsoft is leading the charge in gaming sustainability by introducing new energy-saving features for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles to reduce their environmental impact and to help reach its goal of being a "carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste" company by 2030. According to an Xbox Wire blog post published on 11 January 2023, the gaming giant is rethinking how it designs, builds, distributes, and uses its products to become more sustainable.
One of the updates that Xbox is rolling out to its Insiders is the ability to schedule its game, app, and OS updates for consoles at specific times during the nightly maintenance window when renewable energy is most readily available. This change will reportedly reduce the carbon footprint of updates and downloads and potentially save users money on their electricity bills. Xbox is the first gaming console to offer this feature -- similar to the carbon-aware updates that Windows 11 PCs have had for the past year.
Xbox is also introducing energy-saving options for its consoles. Starting today, Xbox Insiders will notice that their Xbox Series X|S consoles will automatically update to the Shutdown (energy-saving) power option. This option will reduce power consumption while the console is off without affecting performance, gameplay, or the ability to receive overnight updates. Xbox One consoles will also have the option to choose this power mode, with the company testing different messaging options to inform players of the change and gather feedback.
For those that select the Sleep power option, you can now adjust your console’s active hours. Your Xbox will boot quickly and will be available for remote wake during your selected active hours. When your Xbox’s active hours are done for the day, it will fully shut down and will draw 0.5 W vs. 10-15 W while active.
The company is encouraging players to learn more about the power-setting options available to them and to make choices that will reduce their environmental impact. For example, players can help by choosing energy-saving options, such as shutdown (energy saving) as a power option, getting carbon aware by choosing automatic updates, and shutting down their Xbox sooner when inactive. This can be done by going to Settings > General > Power options and customizing the power options.
Xbox believes that every small step taken by individuals can have a larger collective impact. "We not only hold ourselves accountable to the carbon emissions in the production and distribution of our products but to the emissions created with the use of our products in the homes of our fans as well," noted Xbox Technical Program Manager, Blaine Hauglie.
This latest decision to prioritize sustainability is a commendable step towards reducing Xbox's environmental impact and aligning with Microsoft's goals. In addition, the gaming giant's commitment to collaborating with developers and empowering players to make more informed decisions is admirable, hopefully setting a positive example for the broader video games industry. It's clear that Xbox is taking an active role in making gaming more sustainable, and we look forward to seeing more innovative solutions from the company (and others) in the future.