The official Microsoft Blog made a pretty big announcement yesterday. They officially introduced their game streaming service called Project xCloud. According to the post, Microsoft envisions a future where any game (from Halo to Forza) can be playable on virtually any device, “empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the centre of your gaming experience.”
According to the post and included video, Microsoft is in a unique position to tackle a game-streaming service because not only are they “a gaming company with content and community” but they also have a “strong first-party cloud in Azure”. Azure’s architecture is made of 54 datacentres around the world a offers services in 140 countries.
Despite explaining that the rollout will happen over several years, public trials are due to start in 2019. Today, Quincy, WA, already hosts the first rack of console hardware (blades of Xbox One console components) which can facilitate cloud-based play. In the video below you even get a glimpse of Forza Horizon 4 being played on an Android smartphone – so to some degree, this system is currently up and running.
Microsoft, however, does not intend this to be the death of consoles, but rather a way to provide console gamers with additional play options while introducing those who have never owned a console to console-level gaming. They feel that home console play will still be “flagship experience”, but by allowing play on tablets, phones etc using a Bluetooth-connected Xbox controller or a “new, game-specific touch input overlay” gaming will reach an even wider audience.
It seems every day we step closer and closer to this ‘new gaming future’, and with Google, Nintendo, Sony and now Microsoft all involved it appears that even major hurdles like input lag and connection strength are being treated as mere stepping stones on the road to gaming on any device, anywhere.