During E3 2018, Microsoft teased an upcoming multiplatform Cloud Gaming service. This week they officially announced Project xCloud. It leverages the power of Azure and promises to bring Xbox Gaming to many devices.
Powered by Azure
xCloud is the future of accessible Gaming on Xbox. It transforms the Xbox Brand from representing a device to representing a platform. You’ll still be able to buy a physical Xbox Gaming Console, but Gamers can also choose to play on other devices. Microsoft is embracing Cloud Gaming so that Gamers can have choices. You’ll be able to enjoy Xbox content on anything from a computer to a mobile phone.
To do this, Microsoft is adding new Xbox-specific hardware to Azure. Azure is a Cloud Server network that is available in 140 countries around the world.
“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.”-Kareem Choudhry, Corporate VP – Microsoft
It’s important to point out that not only is Azure a powerful option for Cloud Gaming, it’s also one of the largest world-wide Cloud Networks. Azure has the potential to reach a great number of Gamers.
Flexibility is Key
Console Gaming is known for being a tethered experience. It traditionally requires you to play in front of your TV. Nintendo changed things with the launch of the Switch, and now other companies are following suit.
Microsoft is excited to reach Gamers on new devices. The option of playing Xbox on mobile may entice a new group of Gamers to the Microsoft ecosystem. With that said, bringing a full console experience to a smaller screen can be challenging. xCloud is taking this problem head-on by supporting both Xbox Bluetooth Controllers and on-screen Touch Controls.
“We are 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.”-Kareem Choudhry, Corporate VP – Microsoft
5G isn’t Required
The world is excited about 5G. It’s coming soon, and it should add a whole new element to Cloud Gaming. While 5G promises to offer uncompromised wireless performance, Microsoft doesn’t feel that you should have to wait. Their xCloud service will be optimized for today’s LTE.
“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.”-Kareem Choudhry, Corporate VP – Microsoft
Microsoft is currently optimizing the experience for connections as low as 10 Mbps. That’s well within the range of a typical LTE connection.
Project xCloud will begin public testing at some point in 2019. Each Azure Datacenter will need to be upgraded with Xbox Hardware before it can be used with the new service. So the roll-out may take some time to reach all of the regions that Azure currently services.
Microsoft is building xCloud compatibility into their development tools. They promise that developers will be able to scale access to their games on xCloud with no additional work. That’s exciting news because it means that the large majority of Xbox content should work seamlessly with Project xCloud.
Keep an eye on Flickstiq as more details about this service emerge in the near future.
Also published on Medium.
Josh is a long-time Gamer and Technology Guru. He is known for his writing and troubleshooting skills. Josh can solve just about any problem, and is especially good at getting to the bottom of technology challenges. He has a background in Networking and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. When he’s not gaming, Josh can be found blogging, testing new tech, and interacting with Flickstiq’s social media following. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children.