The world is quickly moving towards not owning any physical content — we’ve gone from downloading and copying movies and series from various sources, to streaming everything on Netflix and Showmax. So what’s the obvious next step? Streaming games, obviously — well, that’s what PlayStation, Google and now Microsoft believe.
Recently, Google launched a game streaming service test called Project Stream, and now Xbox is on the bandwagon with Project xCloud — and the project kinda makes sense for Big M. Good old Microsoft has the infrastructure to bring game streaming to more countries than PlayStation Now currently reaches.
Project xCloud is an Xbox game streaming service, designed to bring the console’s titles to platforms other than that old-fashioned console. Imagine if you could play Xbox One titles on any computing device, like a smartphone or a tablet.
Microsoft’s service will let gamers play most of their (GPU-intensive) titles on low-end PCs and even mobile devices — something that PlayStation hasn’t even explored yet. Public trials of the service will only kick off next year, but for now, the company is recruiting developers to bring content to the service and to help with testing in a private beta.
Essentially, devs will need to run video games on smartphones and tablets using bluetooth Xbox controllers or via touch. This could pose a problem, as most games are designed to be played using either a controller or a keyboard and mouse config. Games developed for complex consoles don’t necessarily translate to touch; so game devs previously had to adapt titles for them to play well. Microsoft reckons that they’ll be able to take some of the sting out of that work, though, with a “…new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides maximum response in a minimal footprint” in development.
“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. In addition to solving latency, other important considerations are supporting the graphical fidelity and framerates that preserve the artist’s original intentions, and the type of input a player has available,” says Microsoft in a blog post.
At this stage, Project xCloud is not open to the public, but Microsoft has started some internal testing. The best part? They will make use of their Azure data centres to provide the streaming service to gamers, and there are two of these centres in South Africa. The likelihood of getting xCloud availability in SA is good enough that perhaps Sony will finally launch PlayStation Now here to compete.
Source: Microsoft blog