Microsoft today revealed Project xCloud, a game streaming service that would bring the company’s games to multiple devices, including mobile.
Ultimately, Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new choices in when and where they play, while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before.
To realize this vision, Microsoft is aware that they must make it easy for developers to bring their content to Project xCloud. If it can’t be done in an easy way, many devs might not consider doing the extra work so someone can game on their phone. In their report, Microsoft states that developers of the more than 3,000 games available on Xbox One today, and those building the thousands that are coming in the future, will be able to deploy and dramatically scale access to their games across all devices on Project xCloud with no additional work. It sounds a bit too optimistic, but Microsoft is fairly developer friendly, so if they can pull it off, it’ll be a great thing for gamers and studios alike.
Developers and researchers at Microsoft Research are reportedly in the process, and relatively close to, creating ways to combat latency through advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding. Project xCloud will have the capability to make game streaming possible on 4G networks and will dynamically scale to push against the outer limits of what’s possible on 5G networks as they roll out globally. Currently, the test experience is running at 10 megabits per second. Microsoft’s goal is to “deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network.”
If any of the major companies can pull this off, it’s Microsoft. The computing company turned major video game competitor has nearly 40 years of gaming experience starting with PC, as well as their breadth and depth of capabilities from software to hardware and deep experience of being a platform company. They should be well equipped to address the complex challenge of cloud game-streaming. As a huge Xbox fan I’m optimistic, but let’s be honest, things like this exist already and do pretty well. I can’t imagine the steps in this design being revolutionary, especially for the majority of Xbox gamers. It would be pretty cool though to play Forza Horizon 3 on my phone. Fingers crossed.