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Xbox launches new features to make video games kinder to the planet

Team green goes green.

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The gaming industry is built on powerful technology, but all of those PS5s and Steam Decks take a massive amount of power to run. Sustainability in gaming has become a larger conversation in recent years, as the industry acknowledges the need for initiatives to reduce the negative environmental impacts of our favorite hobby. For Xbox, that means helping gamers save energy when they’re not using their consoles. As announced in a new blog on Xbox Wire, the company is rolling out new features that will grow the company’s mission of sustainability in gaming.

Xbox announced on January 11 that it would be introducing new features for the Xbox Series and One consoles that keep sustainability and energy consumption in mind.

The new update aims to make Xbox consoles “carbon aware”.Microsoft

This update, which is already live for members of the Xbox Insiders program and will roll out to all consoles in the near future, is part of a push from Microsoft and Xbox to be more eco-conscious:

“Xbox is working to reduce our environmental impact to help us reach Microsoft’s goal of being a carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste company by 2030 by rethinking how we design, build, distribute, and use our products.”

The hot phrase the blog uses is “carbon aware” meaning that with the new update, consoles will be able to optimize update and download times when the console is using the most renewable energy — reducing its carbon footprint.

The key feature of this update is the new Shutdown (energy saving) power option. Starting today, Xbox Insiders will automatically update to this new power option. The Shutdown (energy saving) mode will reduce power consumption while the console is off and not affect performance, gameplay, or the ability for the console to receive overnight updates.

These settings can of course be changed by the user whenever they want. The power options setting can be found by navigating to Settings then General, then the Power options menu on the Xbox console.

The company also suggests that users shorten their console's time to shut down, making the console enter power-saving mode after a shorter time of inactivity. What may seem like a small feature is a strong move from Xbox to show it values putting the work into initiatives that can better the industry at large.

Xbox could help lead the way for sustainability initiatives in gaming.Microsoft

The Xbox Wire post also points out that this new update will make the Xbox the first “carbon aware” console, helping gamers reduce the carbon footprint of energy-hungry gaming tech.

Sustainability at Xbox is more than a single destination, said Xbox head Phil Spencer on the company’s sustainability home page, “it’s a long-term responsibility that requires commitment, innovation and accountability.”

With so many innovations in tech, such as new graphic cards, continuously ramping up their power requirement, and crypto-mining putting a toll on energy consumption the gaming and tech industry at large needs to have more concrete plans for how to incorporate sustainability in real ways.

While the energy-saving feature for the Xbox seems like a small step, it can make a real difference, and more than that it shows a real initiative from Xbox to push for change. Energy consumption and sustainability are not problems that will be going away anytime soon and the tech industry will need to make more strides in implementing features that help reduce consumption going forward.

Xbox has a history of setting the path of radical innovation for others to follow in areas like online connectivity and accessibility. If the company continues to commit to sustainability, then it might not be long until we see similar initiatives from rivals like Sony and Nintendo. Even if it isn’t just at Xbox, gaming’s future is looking a little bit greener.

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