Microsoft shows off how it believes the cloud will change gaming forever

Company finally provides live demonstration of how offloading computational efforts to the cloud can improve frame-rate.

Microsoft hasn't held back from talking about how offloading computational efforts to the cloud will advance gaming, but now they are finally showing us what that looks like. In short, this system allows developers to offload processing to remote servers, which in theory frees up local hardware to improve things like rendering.

This week during Microsoft's developer-centric Build conference in San Francisco, the company showed off a custom tech demo illustrating the system running on PC hardware. Importantly, what we're seeing here in the video above is not Xbox One footage and the demo is merely a prototype.

Still, as we see in the video, the PC that's not connected to Microsoft's Azure server network seriously struggles when the building begins to collapse. Meanwhile, the connected rig is able to achieve a far more steady frame-rate throughout.

Microsoft says that tapping into the power of the cloud for gaming will allow for "news kinds of experiences that have never been possible."

We're already seeing some of this come to life, as Respawn Entertainment's Xbox One game Titanfall offloads some computational efforts to the cloud. Microsoft released a new video (below) highlighting how the cloud improves the Titanfall experience, though much of what is said is already known.

The video from Microsoft's Build conference was captured by YouTube user Arekkz Gaming. You can watch the entire presentation at Microsoft's website.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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1386 comments
TWayne1020
TWayne1020

This is a control mechanism to take control away from us gamers and put it in their hands , to eventually force us to PAY PER PLAY !!!!  Sounds like the corrupt government is involved also,an easier way to monitor everything you do and say, since gaming gets blamed for so many shootings and ect.  They can go to hell with it !!! When it comes to this , I'm done with it !!!!!  I do hope some of you are smart enough to also figure this out !!!!!

tommynj
tommynj

I'm all for cloud gaming but the games have to be good.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

What happens if you're in the middle of a game and your Internet shuts off? What if you don't want to connect to the Internet, maybe you are at your cottage for the weekend? Hmm, this seems really stupid.

SPBoss
SPBoss

What will happen in 10-15 years when Xbox One becomes legacy hardware? Will they continue to run the cloud for every game or slowly disconnect from old games when player numbers start to dwindle. What will happen to people who want to play these games in the future when the cloud no longer functions for their game? I still play on my PS2 sometimes so I really can't see where this is going. 


They will probably force you to buy the next generation Xbox One-2 (or whatever they will call it) which will be powerful enough to run the Xbox One games without the cloud. This is DRM in disguise and only the sheep cannot see it. 


By the way I have the Xbox One and the PS4 along with a high end PC. I am not a fan boy, I am a passionate gamer and this is my honest opinion on Microsoft's failure this generation.

berserker66666
berserker66666

ITS A TRAP !!! *cough* Always Online DRM *cough*

banzaijapan1
banzaijapan1

UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves™ - Online Technology 2009

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2CQg4xb-r4

The power of the cloud is so last gen.

3:35 

MS can call on all the powers of hell but nothing is gonna change the fact that Xbox One is weak compared to the PS4. No damage control can undo the damage MS inflicted upon it self. MS is late to the cloud party.

Gears_0f_L0ve
Gears_0f_L0ve

I wonder how much of this is smoke n mirrors..

rushad_patel
rushad_patel

Great to see the push in cloud gaming as well, be prepared to see an explosion of cloud gaming software from Satya Nadella.

He was the head of Cloud computing at Microsoft before levelling up to CEO

caseypayne69
caseypayne69

I like the concept but it has two issues. Not everyone has fast internet and can't even get faster than 3 Mbs. (Me). Second there goes your home data plan.

pip3dream
pip3dream

I think this is just terrible.  Microsoft is taking away jobs from american computers and sending them overseas to some SERVER FARM run by 5 year old xbox hacker children.  

Kevin75
Kevin75

This won't go anywhere for the same reason that DRM failed and the PS3 wasn't loved by publishers.


Most people around the world don't have great internet, hell even in America that supposed greatest of all First World Nations the infrastructure is horrible (hopefully Google will fix that with Google Fiber) so any game that utilizes the cloud computing will be useless to anyone without internet let alone without decent internet.


Second reason, like the PS3 using the cloud means extra development time, which means more money and publishers aren't exactly interested in spending extra money.

Deaho
Deaho

I live at Egypt and my internet speed is 1mb only and the max quality I can get for watching a video on YouTube is 360p.So if Microsoft relay on cloud computing then what kind of quality would I get 240p then thanks Microsoft keep it for your self.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is hoovering up marketshare and leaving Microsoft's cloud services in the dust.  So Microsoft is riffing on ideas to create new customers.  It (hopefully) won't go anywhere.

Oni
Oni

I suppose that's cool and all but technology is advancing so fast Smartphones will be able to make these computations in a few years. It is neat though. 

BaDMantra
BaDMantra

It's a great idea and see how you are supporting games on Windows Live ... o wait, I can't save on games ... what, some games I can't access ... hold it hold it ... I will be leasing the games, they will never be mine ... seriously ... probably will be crowded with adds ... hummm ... sure, great idea

Kinren1
Kinren1

I can see this working with multi player only games because when the servers go down so does the game, forever.  With single player games, this would be a disaster.  I still purchase games from many years ago because I am finally getting to them with my extensive backlog.  It would suck that I would not get a chance to play them,ever, because they relied on cloud tech that is non functioning for that particular game anymore.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

It's going to have to be a lot more amazing than that if you're going to convince me that I want to be connected to your servers every time i want to play a game.

I'd rather just have a good PC, thanks.  At the very least until you give me one good reason to believe that's not enough.  They wouldn't dare makes a game that *relies* on it for at least another 10 years because it's one of those things that you can't really start until you've already got a large user base.

I think if anything all they've done here is make the hardware look old, and like it requires some weird, unseen crutch to run playably.  Makes it feel like the whole thing needs to be held together with tape and prayers.

blackothh
blackothh


The Idea is great on paper.........but this just shows how weak the xbox is. I'll just stick with a PC thanks.

Kiigora_LoP
Kiigora_LoP

Next stop: Cloud Computan DLC, gain the POWAH of the cloud for a mere $10!


Methinks I'll stick to a capable PC for anything available to it and accept whatever the consoles can manage on exclusives.

C-THREE
C-THREE

Titanfalls use of cloud computing is impressive as a early start to this but I am not sure the public as a whole is ready for this yet from both the stand point technologically (broadband internet in some areas is crude at best or nonexistent and these bandwith caps that some companies put on customers) or personally (drm complaints, the dislike of always being monitored).

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

well learned a couple of things.


They showed what the Xbox one can do and sorry but even battlefield 4 did a better job at it. (noticed they never ACTUALLY blew up the 'cloud' version of that building?)

They showed the cloud version PLUS the apparently new Starfox game for the Xbox one (sorry had too)


If this is meant to sell it sell short and fell on it's face.

Don't worry M$ fans Sony also stupid enough to invest in this slop.


Martyr77
Martyr77

So what I learned is the Xbox One is so pathetic and weak they have to try to use "cloud computing" as a justification. This is just a form of control DRM like they tried to implement before. Plus the hardware of the Xbox One is weak. We all know that so why try to act like it is anything else?

SPBoss
SPBoss

So this tells us that any game that requires cloud computing will run at 30fps with a fibre optic connection. If your internet disconnects it becomes 2fps or doesn't work at all. They tell us no specs for the 'powerful pc' and the cloud is probably running on a LAN network lol

eternal_napalm
eternal_napalm

The cloud is where Microsoft wants gaming to go so everything you do is under their control. 


Nothing more, nothing less. 


It's a system where every thing is reliant upon their servers. Not needed or wanted for core functionality.


Some dude was blowing smoke about the cloud at GameStop today. I was like, dude, just hand me my copy of Second Son I just bought.

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

I'd rather keep playing my games offline with hardware accelerated physics on my own local PC hardware, then I don't have to rely on some online service to be available when I want to enjoy myself.


They're not even running the same demo and even less so are executing them in the same sequence or with the same actions.

The one on the left may be using a crappy coded CPU physics library and the one on the right may be running nVidia PhysX version on a Titan-Z and 8-core CPU with further optimizations such as no physics particle cross-collisions (only the ground).

Also I bet that, if they were even running that demo connected to one of their cloud servers and not one backstage to which they were connected with a multi-gigabit fibre-channel line, they were alone on that server which is not practicable to do for millions of (potential) customers, so if multiple people are sharing a VMs computational resources there will be lag too, not even talking about the customers internet latency or bandwidth and so on.


Perhaps they simply want to tell us that their "Next-Gen" XBone console is in fact Last-Gen if it can't even do some hardware accelerated physics calculations, who knows.

The real background will again be control - control about what the customer has access to and when and how much money he has to spend on being allowed to enjoy his experience.

I bet dollar signs are already rotating in big publisher's eyes, selling that cloud bullshit as something that's to their drones advantage.

vannacut
vannacut

so if they were gonna go the 'onlive.com' way why did they even bother with a new console ? they could have just used xbox 360 , and let us all play our games run by the servers.

but this is what microsoft had told us at the beginning. seems, they are slowly reversing their reversed policies. this is all about drm i tell you....

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

Looks like a new way to turn hardware owners into renters.

fillup0
fillup0

Keep it out of my singleplayer, I don't wanna have to connect to the web to play your shitty shooter.

playtaion999
playtaion999

I don't see any difference on the clouds' appeareance

PS2fweak
PS2fweak

Very interesting. This could probably do a lot for AI behaviors as well. The online aspect could be annoying for some though. 

FBohler
FBohler

Eddie is so good at troll baiting, see all those Sony Ponies dancing around! Marvelous! Congratz Mr. Makuch, you ROCK!

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

So what happened with Titanfall and the less than 1080p resolution? Looks like another PR stunt to sell "Teh CLOUD".

virtualskill
virtualskill

Cool, but I dont want SP games where I HAVE to always be connected online. Then I cant go back to them when the Cloud Servers go down. I still go back to Chrono Cross...Imagine if that was "Cloud Powered." No thanks..

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Ok, that's cool and all but they seem to be continually forgetting the most important hurdle that people have a problem with.

I shouldn't ever have to be connected to the internet to play my game, unless I am playing online with others.

The day I sign up for a service that stops me from playing, because an external unrelated factor goes down, is the day hell froze over.

jimy1475
jimy1475

so cloud gaming is only if you want to play a game without the wait for it to download? or is this Playstations idea?

doorkicker175
doorkicker175

Yup. Same reason I never play an online multiplayer(sarcasm).

sandman338
sandman338

@Kevin75 When the original Xbox came out it had a broadband connection built in and everyone laughed about it saying that almost no one had high speed internet and that it was a mistake.  Now the complaint is that there isn't enough bandwidth.  What will complain about in another 5 years?

BTW, America doesn't have the best infrastructure for high speed internet.

West123
West123

@C-THREE  there is big talk between ISP in america to put a industry bandwith cap in the future...it looks like plugin everything to the internet wasnt a such a good idea for the consumers. 


TVs

sound sytems

phones

fridges

etc

Chrypt22
Chrypt22

Bf4 does not use computational offloading... I don't know why you even brought that up.

All they did is show an example of how complex math algorithms for physics can be offloaded to servers. It has little to do with graphics aside from free up space for other threads.

Cloud tech is far from slop... You sound like the trolls that laughed at Amazon when they opened their online store and how it would never work.

You sir need to educate yourself before you open your mouth. Pro tip.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@vannacut Good point the 360 could have done this so why invets in the One ? Oh yeah profit


daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

@fillup0   But this is what MS wants.  They know that the Xbox one hardware is weak and doing this means that they can keep up with PS4 and see what your every move is.

wretch1d
wretch1d

@VenkmanPHD  agreed, I am playing TF and ESO right now, my internet dropped out a week ago, well guess ill read a book....or something 

Tora_Kuo
Tora_Kuo

@sandman338 @Kevin75  He stated that with this sentence; "...hell even in America that supposed greatest of all First World Nations - the infrastructure is horrible - ...". 

Chrypt22
Chrypt22

That won't happen for a number of reasons... that rumor has been around for the past 15 years.