Microsoft is planning a game streaming service, called Project xCloud, which it plans to trial in 2019.
Microsoft revealed the plan just a week after Google unveiled Project Stream, its own PC gaming cloud service, which it it started trialing on Friday after many months of rumours.
The aim of Project xCloud is to enable Xbox games and games hawked via the Microsoft Store built-in to Windows 10 to consoles, PCs and even tablets and smartphones. The Project xCloud service will, not surprisingly, run on Microsoft’s own Azure cloud service, but getting it fully up-and-running take some time to complete, admitted Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president of the gaming cloud division at Microsoft.
“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.”
There are only a few game streaming service available of any note, such as Sony’s PlayStation Now, built using technology acquired by the acquisition of OnLive. However, PlayStation Now requires a fast internet connection and users have complained that, for a subscription of £12.99 per month, the quality of service isn’t good enough. Dropped connections mean it’s game over.
It also only streams to a handful of Sony devices or a PC, and requires a £50 wireless Sony controller to play games if you don’t have a PlayStation 4.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming service, meanwhile, is still in beta and also has its limitations. On launch, for example, it pinned the price at $25 for 20 hours of gameplay, although it has since gone free following a less than overwhelming response from gamers.
Even streaming games from a PC to a TV via, for example, a Steam Link can be fraught with difficulties in terms of poor graphics resolution, latency problems and usability.