Microsoft unveils Project xCloud streaming platform

Microsoft looks to take Xbox experience onto mobile

Announced via way of a Microsoft blog post and trailer the other day, we finally get to see exactly what Xbox head Phil Spencer was referring to this past E3 when he mentioned the streaming of console-quality games to other devices.

Project xCloud is to enter a public testing stage in 2019 and the technology, which sees Xbox One components installed in server datacenters, is meant to allow Xbox games to be played "on any device". The company has not revealed any information on its pricing, texture and how it will work with your save data (or not) if you also play games on an actual Xbox.

Project xCloud is already up and running, but it'll take a while to come to market as the company works out latency and compression technology for the best experience.

Starting with trials next year, the "state-of-the-art global game-streaming technology will offer you the freedom to play on the device you want without being locked to a particular device".

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The premise of xCloud seems to mirror that of the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative, which allowed players to purchase a game and then play it on their Windows 10 PC or their Xbox One. The system is being tested on mobile devices via touch input and with a Xbox Wireless Controller connected via Bluetooth. Users will be able to play games either using a paired Xbox controller or a custom touch overlay that "provides maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller". "Our focus is on delivering an wonderful added experience to existing Xbox players and on empowering developers to scale to hundreds of millions of new players across devices".

Microsoft reckons its Azure datacenters (two of which are headed to South Africa before the sun sets on 2018) have the scale to meet the demands of Project xCloud and we tend to agree.

Cloud gaming is obviously more of a challenge than streaming audio or video due to its dynamic, rapidly changing nature. "Delivering a high-quality experience across a variety of devices must account for different obstacles, such as low-latency video streamed remotely, and support a large, multi-user network", he said.

"I may think that some saying the future of gaming is 100% streaming are looking to reclaim the % royalty now paid on content purchased via digital storefronts more than delivering an improved consumer experience". Microsoft showed a demonstration of the same through a video.

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