UPDATE, 11/18/19: This story originally stated that Project xCloud would launch with more than 50 titles. However, while there are currently more than 50 titles slated for Project xCloud's preview program, they do not necessarily represent a lineup for the service's full release.
It looks like Google Stadia should be looking over its shoulder. We've gone hands-on with Microsoft's Project xCloud, which will allow gamers to stream hit Xbox titles to smartphones and tablets. However, based on new information from the X019 conference in London today (Nov. 14), it seems like xCloud is more ambitious than we previously thought.
In addition to streaming Xbox titles through smartphones, Microsoft wants to leverage the game-streaming technology for Windows 10 laptops and desktops. Moreover, the service will probably get a wide release sometime in 2020.
Project xCloud on PC
Information comes from the X019 conference (opens in new tab), which also revealed a number of new games and added a number of titles to Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription service. But there are two major takeaways regarding Project xCloud. First, it's coming to PC next year; second, you'll be able to use whatever Bluetooth-enabled controller you want for it, including Sony's DualShock 4 controller.
In case you haven't been following Project xCloud, the simplest way to describe it is as a game-streaming service for smartphones, tablets and (as of today) PCs. The project is currently in public previews, meaning that you can get a sneak peek if you're one of the lucky few Microsoft has selected to help test the technology.
Project xCloud will likely leverage the Xbox Game Pass subscription ($10 per month), meaning you may have to subscribe indefinitely rather than buying games outright. But the game selection for the service's official preview already looks pretty impressive, with more than 50 titles planned, including Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, Halo 5: Guardians, Tales of Vesperia and many others. Bear in mind, however, that this does not necessarily represent Project xCloud's final game lineup.
Having the service available on PC could expand Project xCloud's audience tremendously. While we've seen Project xCloud perform seamlessly on an Android smartphone, not many gamers want to play through a deep, detailed, dozen-hour adventure while hunched over a tiny screen. With xCloud available on Windows 10 PCs, gamers will be able to play big-budget games, hopefully seamlessly, on expensive gaming rigs and underpowered work laptops alike.
PS4 controllers on Xbox (sort of)
The other bright side of using generic Bluetooth connection protocols in smartphones, tablets and PCs is that gamers need not be restricted to Xbox controllers. As such, one of the supported controllers for Project xCloud is Sony's DualShock 4, better known as the default PlayStation 4 controller.
Using a DualShock 4 on a non-Sony system is hardly unprecedented; it's fairly easy to do on PCs and Android phones, usually with minimal workarounds. But using a PS4 controller specifically to play Xbox games is something that a lot of gamers probably didn't think they'd ever be able to do — at least, not without a lot of digital daisy-chaining.
Whether Project xCloud will get a full release all at once in 2020, or see features roll out slowly over time, Microsoft reps didn't specify. But we do know that the project will undergo a big expansion next year. If you'd like to see what that might look like ahead of time, sign up to be part of the Project xCloud (Preview) (opens in new tab) on Microsoft's website.