Xbox sustainability update adds new power options to consoles

Xbox is introducing new features aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its gaming consoles, including new power-saving options on shutdown and carbon awareness.

The Microsoft company said these updates will make Xbox the first carbon-aware console.

The update will also see consoles use data on local electricity grids to then automatically carry out operations when those grids are more likely to be using lower-carbon sources of power.

"When your console is plugged in, connected to the Internet and regional carbon intensity data is available, Xbox will schedule game, app, and OS updates for your console at specific times during the nightly maintenance window that may result in lower carbon emissions because a higher proportion of electricity is coming from lower-carbon sources on the electric grid," said a post on the Xbox Wire blog.

"For example, instead of your Xbox waking up during the nightly maintenance window at a random time between 2am and 6am, your console will wake up at a time when it can use the most renewable energy in your local energy grid.

"This decreases fossil fuel dependency and CO2 emissions, and could potentially save you money."

Rolling out first to members of the Xbox Insiders programme from today, the update means their Xbox Series X and S consoles will automatically switch to the energy-saving shutdown mode from sleep mode, if not already using it.

Theoretically, for every two consoles that switch to the energy-saving mode for a year instead of sleep mode will save "the equivalent amount of carbon removed by one tree planted and grown for a decade", Xbox said.

However, users can switch back to sleep mode, if they like.

"This one-time update to your power settings will reduce your power consumption while your console is off, and will not affect performance, gameplay, or your console's ability to receive overnight updates to system, games or apps," said the post.

"Remote features are supported while the console is powered-on; however, remote wake is not supported while the console is shut down. You can adjust your settings at any time, choosing what works best for you. Shutdown (energy-saving mode) cuts power use by up to 20 times when it's off compared to Sleep."

Users will also be able to specify 'active hours', which will schedule the console switching to and from sleep mode.

Xbox said although the update is only for Xbox Insiders currently, it will be pushed out to "all Xbox gamers" soon.