Microsoft has announced that it has developed custom hardware in its data centers to ensure the xCloud service is compatible with all existing - and future! Today, the company made the announcement we've all be waiting for, revealing Project xCloud.
Project xCloud's success will depend on Microsoft's ability to overcome the obstacles that have negatively affected other game streaming services: making sure the games look good, that there's minimal input latency and people are able to play without having to wait ages for games to load. Not only that, the streamed games are meant to be at PC and console-level fidelity and speed. Participants are able to use touch controls or sync an Xbox One controller through Bluetooth.
While there's no specifics on devices this will be trialled with, or games available, or who will be able to take part in the first tests, it does seem like Microsoft will be making a serious push towards making its games available to players on non-gaming focused, less powerful devices from next year.
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Cloud game-streaming is a multi-faceted, complex challenge.
"Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network", they conclude.
Microsoft - with our almost 40 years of gaming experience starting with PC, as well as our breadth and depth of capabilities from software to hardware and deep experience of being a platform company - is well equipped to address the complex challenge of cloud game-streaming. "With datacenters in 54 Azure regions and services available in 140 countries, Azure has the scale to deliver a great gaming experience for players worldwide, regardless of their location", say Microsoft.
Latency is obviously a big deal too, and while Microsoft didn't really delve into the specifics of how it will solve that problem, it did say that its tests are now running at 10 Mbps, with the possibility of far greater speeds and lower latency once 5G begins rolling out on a large scale.