During Xbox’s E3 Conference this year, Phil Spencer announced that they were working on new Xbox hardware, much to everyone’s surprise. He also announced that Microsoft was working on a streaming service for Xbox. One that would allow gamers to play Xbox games anywhere.
Not long after both of these announcements, there were rumours of the next generation of Xbox consoles to come in a few flavours. There would be the successor to the X, a meaty console for those wanting the best visuals out of their console. A follow-up to the S, one with slightly lesser power at a more reasonable price and last but not least a streaming console. This was very much speculative but the latter console would theoretically allow gamers to experience Xbox without having an incredibly powerful machine to hand.
Well, it may not be that far thrown as Microsoft has now announced Project xCloud, the very streaming tech that good lad Phil mentioned during the Xbox presser. Project xCloud will allow gamers to play Xbox games on their tablets, phones and laptops using state of the art streaming technologies created by the incredibods over at Microsoft. Games were shown to be controlled via an Xbox One controller, complete with a dock to support your mobile phone, or via touch controls. Touch controls would, presumably, need to be implemented within the game so I’d assume we’ll only be seeing these in first-party games initially but controller docks would be available for third-party games.
Streaming games aren’t without their downfalls. Early streaming tech such as OnLive wasn’t all that great and was plagued with latency and rendering issues. Even more modern systems like PlayStation Now have their downfalls with 30fps/720p gameplay. These are issues that Microsoft highlighted in the video below and their aim is to ensure that the quality of the game can be experienced via a stream. They’re even going as far to support 5g, something that is only just breaking ground over here in the UK. They certainly talk the talk and they most definitely have the expertise to pull this off but we’ll have to wait and see if Project xCloud lives up to this claim.
Project xCloud is still very much in development, however, there are plans for public trials early next year, so it won’t be long for us to wait to give it a try. It’s also too early to be shown payment plans for the system but I’d suspect we’ll be looking at a monthly tiered subscription for a variety of features. It’ll also be interesting to see whether Xbox release an “Ultimate Subscription” which bundles streaming, Game Pass and Xbox Live all in one handy monthly sub. It’d make sense but, again, we’ll have to wait and see.
It’s great to see Xbox jumping forward in what has been a pretty rough generation for them and it’s making me genuinely excited to see that they have in store in the coming years.