With Google making a lot of noise this past week with their Project Stream, I knew it was only a matter of time before the sleeping beast would awake. That beast being Microsoft, who had already let us know this past E3 2018 that they were working on something that featured streaming via the cloud. You know of it as “Scarlet”. Today, Microsoft let the world know about yet another piece of their online gaming puzzle – Project xCloud.
As you can guess by the name, this is likely yet another addition to the Xbox gaming family. This is also likely why Microsoft acquired PlayFab, a company that specialized Gaming as a service or GaaS, earlier in the year.
Microsoft is currently testing this now on smartphones and tablets, with an Xbox controller paired to them. It’s mentioned that this will support the existing 4G services and will also be developed with 5G in mind.
I’m glad to see that it looks like a physical controller is required. I am not a fan of using touch-based controllers on games. It seems Microsoft is on the same page – “The immersive nature of console and PC games often requires controls that are mapped to multiple keys, buttons, sticks and triggers. 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.”
They’re also levering their existing Azure Cloud service, which is deployed across 54 regions (with more coming). That means that when Project xCloud does get released, there will be enough geo-located regions covered. I’m assuming this also will help with the latency/input delay as well.
While this is being tested with mobile devices currently, you can bet we’ll also see this move over to PCs as well. Mobile is only one part of gaming, and with Google already heading to the PC gaming market with Project Stream. You can be sure that Microsoft isn’t far behind – if they’re behind at all.
It also looks that Microsoft has been working on their own custom hardware to power this service. In the video below, we see a rendering that these server blades will have the power of four Xbox Ones. These can, in turn, be deployed into a data center, and power Project xCloud. Definitely interesting, especially since prior to this, services that offered a similar offering used off-shelf technology – such as Nvidia’s Gird offering.
I’ll definitely be following this and you can sure that The Outerhaven will update the news on this as we receive it.
Check out Microsoft’s press release below.
The future of gaming is a world where you are empowered to play the games you want, with the people you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, and on any device of your choosing. Our vision for the evolution of gaming is similar to music and movies — entertainment should be available on demand and accessible from any screen. Today, I’m excited to share with you one of our key projects that will take us on an accelerated journey to that future world: Project xCloud.
Today, the games you play are very much dictated by the device you are using. Project xCloud’s 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, empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the center of your gaming experience.
Content and community
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, we know we must make it easy for developers to bring their content to Project xCloud. 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.
About Project xCloud
Scaling and building out Project xCloud is a multi-year journey for us. We’ll begin public trials in 2019 so we can learn and scale with different volumes and locations. Our focus is on delivering an amazing added experience to existing Xbox players and on empowering developers to scale to hundreds of millions of new players across devices. Our goal with Project xCloud is to deliver a quality experience for all gamers on all devices that’s consistent with the speed and high-fidelity gamers experience and expect on their PCs and consoles.
We’ve enabled compatibility with existing and future Xbox games by building out custom hardware for our datacenters that leverages our years of console and platform experience. 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.