Rocksteady Dev Calls Xbox Series S a ‘Potato’ While Defending Gotham Knights at 30 FPS

Alessio Palumbo
Xbox Series S Gotham Knights

The latest gaming industry controversy suddenly exploded a few days ago when Gotham Knights developer WB Games Montréal confirmed that the game would only run at 30 frames per second on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X.

Producer Fleur Marty has since explained the choice with a message on the official Gotham Knights Discord channel.

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I know many of you are wondering about the availability of a performance mode for Gotham Knights on consoles. Due to the types of features we have in our game, like providing a fully untethered co-op experience in our highly detailed open world, it's not as straightforward as lowering the resolution and getting a higher FPS. For this reason, our game does not have a performance/quality toggle option and will run at 30FPS on consoles.

However, fan reactions nonetheless ranged from heavy disappointment to outright anger. After all, Gotham Knights was initially planned for previous generation consoles as well. The game recently became next-gen exclusive, but that apparently wasn't enough to warrant a Performance Mode on Xbox Series S and X and PlayStation 5.

A fellow developer from Rocksteady (the Batman: Arkham studio, which is also under the WB Games umbrella), Senior Character Technical Artist Lee Devonald, tried defending the Gotham Knights makers with a series of tweets that ended up inflaming the situation even further. He pointed out that the Xbox Series S is not much better than the Xbox One consoles and may be the culprit.

I wish garners understood what 60fps means in terms of all of the things they *lose* to make the game run that fast. Especially taking into account that we have a current gen console that's not much better than a last gen one.

Series S GPU mostly. Multi-platform games always have to optimise for the lowest performer.

In a follow-up message, he went as far as calling the Xbox Series S a 'potato' that hamstrung an entire generation of games.

The Series S exists, though, and Microsoft won't let you launch on one without the other. An entire generation of games, hamstrung by that potato.

Needless to say, Devonald's comments generated an even stronger outrage. Not only did he have to delete the tweets, but also his entire Twitter account.

Truth be told, this is far from the first developer comment openly critical of the Xbox Series S console. The first one came from id Software Lead Engine Programmer Billy Khan, who was concerned about the drastically lower amount of RAM and the split memory banks.

A few months after its launch, Remedy's Thomas Puha said optimization for the console was nowhere near as simple as lowering things like rendering resolution or texture quality. A month before that, 4A Games CTO Oleksandr Shyshkovtsov told us in an exclusive interview that the Xbox Series S RAM wasn't an issue, but GPU performance would be challenging for future titles.

Early this year, Dying Light 2 Lead Designer Tymon Smektala stated the Xbox Series S GPU was holding Techland back from going beyond 30 FPS in the game.

Interestingly, though, just a couple of months ago, Microsoft announced select software improvements that would enhance the performance of the Xbox Series S.

Hundreds of additional megabytes of memory are now available to Xbox Series S developers. This gives developers more control over memory, which can improve graphic performance in memory-constrained conditions. Titles can now take better advantage of recent memory enhancements. We’ve addressed an issue where graphics virtual addresses were being allocated considerably slower than non-graphics virtual addresses.

It is unclear whether WB Games Montréal could take advantage of these enhancements in time for the release of Gotham Knights. Perhaps the studio could add a Performance Mode in a future patch, or at least unlock the frame rate for those users with Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) displays.

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