With more powerful data servers and faster, more reliable internet connections, it’s starting to look like cloud gaming might finally become a thing. So much so, that Microsoft just announced that it’s throwing its hat into the arena with Project xCloud -- joining Google and Nvidia in this untapped avenue of gaming.
Project xCloud is designed to let you stream games anywhere -- whether you're on PC, console, or even your phone. According to the Microsoft blog (opens in new tab), public trials of Project xCloud will launch sometime in 2019. But the company started testing the cloud gaming service today across mobile, console and PC in conjunction with a Bluetooth Xbox controller.
In the case of mobile devices, the company is working on a new touch overlay in case you don’t have a controller handy. Microsoft claims that xCloud is currently running at 10 megabits per second, which is mid-range download speed for phone carriers such as Verizon and AT&T that offer 4G LTE. The company is also working to accommodate the upcoming 5G technology.
As Microsoft continues to fiddle with xCloud, it has some serious obstacles to tackle. Just like other cloud gaming services, Project xCloud has to contend with maintaining low latency while simultaneously preserving graphic fidelity. In addition, Microsoft will need to make sure it has a solid library for the public trial.
That’s why the company will be opening up the service to developers so they can start getting used to the idea of making games that are playable on console, PC or mobile devices. In preparation, Microsoft revealed its work on custom hardware for its existing data centers that can support Xbox components with plans to expand out to its 54 Azure cloud-computing regions covering 140 countries over time. The company also noted that developers of existing Xbox One games should be able to bring their titles to xCloud with "no additional work."
If Microsoft can pull Project xCloud off, gamers will be one step closer to truly having the ability to play anywhere. It could also bring millions of new customers into the gamer fold by offering them high-end, AAA titles on their smartphones and tablets, which are becoming more powerful each year. But if Google, Nvidia and Microsoft are any indication, the future of gaming might be in the cloud.