How Microsoft Is Changing Xbox To Become The First Carbon-Aware Game Console
Microsoft is rolling out an update soon to Xbox, making it the first carbon-aware console. The company is aiming at becoming carbon-negative, water positive, and zero waste by 2030.
Tech companies are constantly looking for ways to reduce carbon footprints. Last March, Microsoft outlined its plan for its sustainability efforts across hardware, software, waste reduction, and collective action. The plan not only encompasses the company's own carbon emissions in the production and distribution of its products, but also the emissions created by the use of its products in consumers' homes. With that in mind, the company is sharing an update with its Xbox Insiders that will create opportunities for the collective gaming community of gamers to make choices that will reduce the environmental impact during those long gaming sessions.
One of the ways the company is aiming to reduce carbon emissions is through carbon-aware game downloads and updates. Windows Update became carbon-aware last year for Windows 11 PCs, and now Xbox consoles will be carbon aware as well.
It will achieve this by detecting when the console is plugged in, connected to the internet and regional carbon intensity is available, and then schedule game, app, and OS updates for your console at specific times during the nightly maintenance window that could result in lower carbon emissions. As of right now, this feature is only available to Xbox Insiders, but will soon be available to all Xbox gamers. This gives all of them the opportunity to make their Xbox console carbon aware.
Xbox Insiders may have already noticed that their Xbox X/S consoles automatically updated to the Shutdown (energy-saving) power option. This is a one-time update to the power settings and will reduce the power consumption while the console is off. It will not affect performance, gameplay, or the console's ability to receive overnight updates to the system, games, or apps. It should be noted, however, that remote wake is not available while the console is shut down. Of course, users can change the settings to meet their own preferences.
Microsoft is encouraging gamers to opt for the Shutdown option, stating that for every 2 consoles that switch to Shutdown for one year, it will save the equivalent amount of carbon removed by 1 tree planted and grown for a decade. This is based on an average of Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles on Shutdown for 20 hours per day for 1 year.
Another new setting that is available to Insiders is the "Active hours" setting. Anyone that selects the Sleep power option can now adjust the console's active hours as well. This will enable a faster boot time and make the console available for remote wake during the user's active hours. Anytime the console is outside of the set active hours, it will fully shut down and will only draw 0.5W vs. 10-15W while active.
Microsoft says that by choosing settings that help your Xbox save energy, becoming carbon aware, and choosing a shorter duration for your Xbox to turn off when inactive, gamers can help reduce carbon emissions.