Project xCloud – Microsoft’s game-streaming service announced

Last week we were discussing the new game-streaming technology by Google called Project Stream, in the announcement we saw someone playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in their browser which was incredible, and hot on their trail is Microsoft, who have just announced their own game streaming service called Project xCloud.

When we spoke about ‘Project Stream’ by Google on our podcast we wondered if Google would sell their technology to the highest bidder or if Microsoft and Sony would instead choose to create their own. Well, now we have our answer. During the podcast I also said that if the next generation of consoles were centered around game-streaming then Microsoft could potentially win the next generation of console war due to their increased online presence and more importantly their cloud infrastructure, specifically ‘Azure’ which is Microsoft’s cloud computing service that they have been working on since 2010.

Essentially, Project xCloud (name will most likely change) will take Xbox hardware, package it up into a server, and put it online – allowing users to stream their game collection on almost any device from mobile phones to tablets and laptops. You can see a visual representation of this in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4df_0JjKR0

Unlike Google’s announcement video for Project Stream, Microsoft didn’t release a long gameplay video, instead they opted to talk about the service with a little bit of gameplay mixed in – we saw people playing Forza Horizon 4 on their phones using a Bluetooth Xbox controller – the video looked like the game was running great:

Project xStream

The clip they are using to connect the controller to the phone is also pretty cool, although I’m not sure how well it will work with a tablet. As with Project Stream by Google, the Project xCloud’s main problems to solve will be latency, input lag and visual fidelity – Azure could be the answer to all of these things.

Phil Spencer goes into a lot more detail about the service in the video below, it’s important to note that he says this does not mark the end of the console era and is instead an alternative to console gaming should you be away from home or if you don’t have a console:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzV_xrisMko

This news isn’t exactly unexpected as Microsoft did say at the last E3 event that they were working on a game-streaming service, we just weren’t expecting to see or hear anything more about it so soon – maybe Google forced this out of them with their announcement.

Private, in-house testing of the Project xCloud service has already begun and, interestingly, they have also been testing it over 4G, so it seems a WiFi connection isn’t mandatory – public testing is most likely a while off yet.

This is a massive announcement for Microsoft who seem to be fully focussed on the next generation of consoles so it will be interesting to see how this plays a part in those, as a guess I think the streaming service will get bundled into the Xbox Game Pass – how awesome would that be?

This is an interesting time for gaming, with Google and now Microsoft announcing game-streaming services (there’s even a video of people streaming games on the Switch, which Nintendo are trialling in Japan). Streaming is, without a doubt, the future of gaming, maybe not for the next generation of consoles and maybe not even for the generation after that, but one day. Just as we do with music and movies, streaming will be the gaming standard.

Ricky spent most of his childhood playing games, mainly FPS and RPG games and this has continued into his adult life. You’ll regularly see him on Overwatch until he rages, then he'll move on to FIFA until he rages again - then he gives up on multiplayer games and chills out with a single player adventure.

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