Microsoft has revealed Project xCloud, a realization of their plans to bring their titles, via streaming, to “any screen” while “empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the center of your gaming experience.”
Announced on Microsoft’s blog, Project xCloud will allow developers to “deploy and dramatically scale access to their games across all devices on Project xCloud with no additional work.”
Microsoft’s plan is to begin “public trials in 2019” so they can “learn and scale with different volumes and locations.”
The team behind xCloud has designed a a “new customizable blade that can host the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it.”
These blades will be positioned around the world to take advantage of Microsoft’s 54 Azure regions and services that support 140 countries, to ensure that gamers will get the best experience, no matter where they may live.
Project xCloud is being tested right now on mobile phones and tablets, and allows you to connect to an Xbox Wireless Controller through Bluetooth to control the games or to use traditional touch controls if needed.
Microsoft is also planning on “developing a new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller.”
As with any streaming service, latency is always a big concern as internet infrastructure is highly variable around the world. The Microsoft Research team are working to solve these issues through “advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding.”
Project xCloud will utilize 4G networks and will scale to 5G as the availability of the newest network rolls out globally. As it stands, their current test experience is “running at 10 megabits per second.”
Microsoft revealed their plans of a streaming future at E3 2018 and there have been reports/rumors that Microsoft’s plan for its next-generation consoles, codenamed Scarlett, will be to launch a traditional console and one that is positioned as a “streaming box.”
Microsoft is hardly the first company to push streaming, as Google has recently revealed Project Stream that allows gamers to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in Google Chrome browsers, and Sony has PlayStation Now, which recently has allowed players to download PS4 and PS2 games to play offline.
Even Nintendo is working on their version of streaming services in Japan, with, once again, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey being available via a “cloud version” on Nintendo Switch.
The plans for the future are starting to get a bit clearer, and while we have cautioned that the rise of streaming titles may be “2018’s scariest new trend,” if Microsoft can pull this off, it would be an incredible win for them and for millions of gamer’s around the world.
Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN who is looking forward to trying Project xCloud, as playing Ori and the Blind Forest wherever he goes would be fantastic. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst.