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Microsoft's Project xCloud: Console gaming experience streamed to your phone

Move over, Project Stream: Microsoft has Project xCloud, its own console-style game streaming service.

Published onOctober 8, 2018

An image of a woman playing a handheld game via Project xCloud, a new game streaming service from Microsoft.
  • Microsoft announced its own console-style game streaming service today called Project xCloud
  • Similar to Google’s Project Stream, Project xCloud will allow you to play pretty much any game on any device via streaming.
  • According to Microsoft, internal testing of Project xCloud is happening now, with public trials coming in 2019.

Last week, Google announced Project Stream, a streaming service which will allow you to play console-style games right in your web browser. Today, Microsoft launched its own game streaming service called Project xCloud, which promises to bring console games to every device you own.

Similar to Project Stream, Project xCloud will use internet streaming to enable gamers to play high-performance games on devices which might not have high-performance hardware. This means smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.

The Google Project Stream test is over... now what? (Updated)
A screenshot from Google's Project Stream service.

The biggest problem preventing internet game streaming from becoming a full reality is latency — in this case, the time delay between a user hitting a button or key, that keypress registering on the server, and the resulting action happening on the user’s screen. Microsoft claims it has a grip on this latency issue and is confident that it can create a game streaming service which will allow users to play anything they want on any device they choose.

Check out the YouTube video below which describes Project xCloud:

According to Microsoft, the company has created a new type of blade server by assembling the components of several Xbox One systems. Although it’s likely more complicated than just mashing a bunch of Xboxes together, Microsoft is deploying these blade servers to data centers around the world which already house Microsoft’s Azure system. This means that Microsoft will be able to easily scale Project xCloud once it becomes a reality.

In the video above, a woman plays a console game on an Android phone (hard to be sure, but looks like a Samsung Galaxy S9) by connecting an Xbox controller via Bluetooth. According to the video caption, what we’re seeing in the example video is actual gameplay footage streamed to the Android phone via Project xCloud.

Project Stream invites are rolling out now! Did you get in?
A screenshot from Google's Project Stream service.

Microsoft says its goal with Project xCloud is to bring the console gaming experience to everyone. Despite the popularity of console gaming, there are plenty of areas of the world where owning a console is an indulgent luxury or impractical due to various factors, and Microsoft wants those individuals to have access to console-style gaming even without the console.

For gamers who already own a console, Project xCloud will expand that console’s reach. If you are playing a game at home in your living room and have to start your train commute to work, you can simply restart the game on your phone right from where you left off.

While that all sounds wonderful, it does seem like it will be difficult to do in real-world mobile situations. There are times when its difficult to even play a YouTube video on a smartphone, let alone stream a game like Red Dead Redemption or Call of Duty. However, Microsoft seems fairly confident it has the solution.

Whatever the case, we will find out how it all works in 2019, when Microsoft will start public trials of Project xCloud.

What do you think? Does Microsoft have what it takes to make this a reality, or is this a pipe dream for now? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Google’s Project Stream will allow real-time 1080p, 60fps gaming via a browser

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