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Microsoft and EA to bring console-level gaming to mobile with new streaming services

The companies announced the separate services as part of their E3 2018 press events, but we're light on details.

Published onJune 11, 2018

  • Microsoft and Electronic Arts revealed they are working on their own game streaming services.
  • Both services will be able to stream games to smartphones and other devices.
  • Details about the services, including launch dates and prices, have yet to be revealed.

With E3 2018 about to start in Los Angeles, major gaming publishers are holding pre-E3 press events before the video game trade show officially begins on Tuesday. Microsoft and Electronic Arts used their own pre-E3 press conferences to tease us about their plans to offer game streaming services that, in theory, would offer console-level games to smartphones and other devices.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson revealed at its EA Play press event on Saturday that his company will offer a way to stream its games library to smartphones, low-hardware laptops and other devices in the future. The EA Play event, which runs through Monday in Los Angeles, is offering live demos of its cloud-based game streaming service. Wilson said that while it is not yet ready to launch, the company wanted to show it off at its event as a promise for what’s coming. Details about the service, including pricing and a specific launch date, have yet to be revealed.

In May, EA announced it had acquired the cloud gaming technology assets and personnel of the GameFly service for an undisclosed amount. While under its former parent GameFly, the team developed technology to stream PC games to Samsung and LG smart TVs, along with Amazon’s Fire TV devices. It’s likely that EA will use that technology as the basis for its own game streaming service.

On Sunday, Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed the division was working with the company’s cloud technology team to come up with a way to stream games with console graphics quality to any device. Spencer said Microsoft is “dedicated to perfecting your experience everywhere you want to play; your Xbox, your PC and your phone.” As with EA’s teaser, there were no specifics on when this service will launch, nor how much it might cost. Microsoft already supports in-home game streaming from Xbox One consoles to Windows 10 PCs.

Microsoft has been working on game streaming technology for several years now. Back in 2013, the company reportedly had a demo at an internal company meeting that showed Halo 4 streaming and played on an old Lumia 520 smartphone.

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Several companies have aimed to make streaming games the same as watching a movie or TV show on Netflix, or an album on Spotify, but most have encountered troubles. Many PC gamers might remember OnLive, which launched its own game streaming service with much hype in 2010. However, it never got enough users to make money, and in 2015 it finally shut down its services.

The most successful game streaming service has been Sony’s PlayStation Now. Launched in open beta in 2014, the service now has more than 650 PS2, PS3 and PS4 games to stream for a monthly fee. However, Sony cut support for PlayStation Now for a number of previously included devices, including smart TVs and the PlayStation Vita, in 2017, and it now works just on PlayStation 4 consoles and Windows PCs.

It’s likely that any game streaming service that targets smartphones could rely on the upcoming 5G network technology launch for wireless carriers. One of the biggest hurdles for game streaming as a whole is the large amount of bandwidth needed for console and PC-level games, compared to streaming video or audio online.

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