Back at E3 2018, Microsoft revealed that it was working on a game streaming service to unlock quality console gaming on any device. Quite the claim they made at the time, and there was a lot of skepticism to say the least. The company already has the Xbox Pass for console and PC owners, which is a monthly subscription that allows gamers to play a myriad of Xbox games without actually owning the games directly. A lot of people thought that was more than enough. However, the company seems to be making good on their promise as they announced today that the project has made great strides and now has a name, Project xCloud.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) October 8, 2018
The goal of this project is simple: to allow all Xbox games to be played on any device at any time. A tall order considering that a majority of the games that are played on console and PC demand a lot of the devices power just to even run it. In addition, these games will be streamed to the device via cloud-gaming, therefore the risk of lag and delayed touch/button input increases greatly. Microsoft is out to prove that it can accomplish this task, and if the announcement video is any indication, they appear to be succeeding. The video shows employees playing high profile games on mobile, and tablets devices such as Halo 5, Gears of War 4, and Forza Horizon 4.
The Corporate Vice President, Kareem Choudhry, in an extensive blog post, detailed more about Project xCloud. In the post he states:
We’ve enabled compatibility with existing and future Xbox games by building out custom hardware for our datacenters that leverages our years of console and platform experience. We’ve architected a new customizable blade that can host the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it. We will scale those custom blades in datacenters across Azure regions over time.
The Azure that Choudry speaks about is the company’s cloud computing service, which is already utilized for the Xbox Pass and other streaming applications that gamers use for either console and PC. The project will also use 4G and 5G cellular networking for mobile and tablet devices. 5G, which isn’t available to the public yet, is the next step in cellular connectivity for speed and technology. If the service that Microsoft is building utilizes this much power, then playing console games on your phone might not seem like such a far-fetched idea.
This all comes of the heels of Google announcing their own cloud-based streaming service, Project Stream, which is allowing testers to play Assassins Creed Odyssey for free. On top of that, the company will also be competing with Sony, Nintendo, and other companies that will inevitably follow suit in this endeavor. Despite that, Microsoft definitely seems to have a head start over everyone else. It will be interesting to see how the project progresses going into the next year, as this will no doubt be a defining event, not just in the video game community, but in the technology community as well.
Project xCloud will enter public beta sometime in 2019, with more details on that to follow later. You can check out the announcement video here: