Microsoft's New Game Streaming Service xCloud Announced

Want to play Halo on your phone?

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Now Playing: Microsoft Unveils Game Streaming, Testing To Begin Next Year - GS News Update

Numerous game companies believe that streaming technology is the future. Now, Microsoft has announced its own approach to streaming video games: Project xCloud. The project aims to bring console-quality games to PC, consoles, and smart phone devices, and it will be rolling out public trials starting in 2019.

As detailed in the announcement, players will be able to use an Xbox One controller connected to supported devices. Smart phones can be used via Bluetooth, and a small attachment connects the controller to the phone for ease of use. If you don't have an Xbox One controller, touch controls are also available.

The service uses Microsoft's Azure as a backbone to set up new datacenters, with customized hardware that uses the parts of multiple Xbox One consoles. Azure has datacenters in 140 countries, so Microsoft feels it is already in a strong position to roll out the service wide-scale. It's also developing ways to combat latency, with current tests running at 10 megabits per second. The ultimate goal is to make streaming available on 4G networks. Microsoft also notes the intention is for developers to be able to make their games available through xCloud without requiring any additional work from them (not unlike how it handles backwards compatibility on Xbox One).

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Similarly, last week Google announced its own Project Stream, using Assassin's Creed Odyssey to issue a technical test. PlayStation Now, meanwhile, has offered streaming games for quite a while, but recently began offering the option of downloading instead.

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Avatar image for surforich
surforich

It does not matter whether streaming services are technically feasible or not, there's an entirely different reason they will not replace the traditional model. Video games, especially consoles, keep chugging along based on two major factors: fanboyism and hyper-consumerism.

Fanboysim: How often do you hear people say "I'm an Xbox guy" or "I'm a Playstation gamer" or "I'm a PC gamer" or "I'm a Nintendo fan." I hear it CONSTANTLY from EVERYONE I ever talk to in person about games. Consoles sell largely because of this imagined "war" where people want to believe that they're part of a group because they bought a thing. The idea of playing something anywhere on anything doesn't appeal to this sort tribalism by way of purchase mindset. No one actually cares about streaming other than tech bloggers.

Hyperconsumerism: Gamers are severely addicted to buying shit. How often do you see people using that "shut up and take my money" meme? Because I see it constantly. I CONSTANTLY hear people saying they're going to buy this game, buy that game, re-buy a game they already own for some reason, buy this console to replace the console they already have that still works, and so on. People get a little endorphin rush every time they make a purchase. Again, streaming runs counter to this "I want to buy shit and then buy some more shit and then buy the same shit I already bought again" mindset.

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Genji_Shimada

OnLive was pretty awesome, it was just ahead of its time. The average network just wasn't and isnt fast enough. Until 100Mb/s+ d/l and ~30Mb/s u/l become the minimum standard across US and most countries then it will fail. Even with those speeds you have to worry about ISP throttling and packet loss.

It will be amazing once those minor detractors become a nonfactor.

Avatar image for HOLYSHMUCK
HOLYSHMUCK

Man streaming is gonna be a real issue for the consumer once ownership goes away. If you take away ownership of titles, the platform holders can manhandle the consumer and developers in any way they want. We will be completely at the mercy of Microsoft for game licenses, availability, and censorship (both political and financial) if this becomes the norm. They can literally revoke access to any game at any time through this. It's a cool OPTION to have, but let's not ignore the potential "1984" levels of control this can give Microsoft if they make it THE ONLY option to play in the future. They could literally MAKE you play only the games they WANT you to play by picking and choosing what you have access to at any given time.

Avatar image for JustinGoSka
JustinGoSka

@HOLYSHMUCK: I disagree. Netflix and other video services have been around and we've seen the impact of those services. Shows and movies aren't inaccessible or arbitrarily obscure because they're not on a specific streaming service. Microsoft already controls what games we can play on Xbox one. They could even disable disc games from working because the disc is basically just a DRM method for a game that is completely installed on the device itself.

Avatar image for HOLYSHMUCK
HOLYSHMUCK

@JustinGoSka: But shows and movies don't require hardware specific consoles to work unlike games which are stuck on the hardware type they play on. Shows and Movies can be ripped, games have to be ported, or emulated, which can be decimated if we don't know what type of hardware a streaming game is even running on over there.

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spiddyman007

Only way I see this happening is if it’s like insanely expensive like $100 a month and Microsoft partners with Verizon to allow customers with the Xbox cell plan to game and everyone else is screwed.

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spiddyman007

Damn. We need this Microsoft.

Avatar image for datriax
datriax

"Want to play Halo on your phone?" Bwahahahahaahahahaha......... no.

Avatar image for JustinGoSka
JustinGoSka

@datriax: You can emulate a windows enviorment on your phone and run Halo Custom Edition on it.

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AlexOfBurg

this is pretty cool not gonna lie

Avatar image for hlmcpherson
hlmcpherson

Zero interest in paying for time on someone elses computer.

Avatar image for eli150
eli150

This idea has so many problems.. my main concern is how much will we be expected to pay? I think there is close to zero chance it's going to be one streaming service with one monthly payment. How are game companies going to earn the same (or more) money for their games when they just release them on this service? I rather everything just stays the way it is now with the exception of PS+ and Xbox Live. Sony and Microsoft need to stop charging people for playing online.. it's messed up

Avatar image for sirdan357
sirdan357

@eli150: Not messed up at all. These services cost money to maintain.

Avatar image for rasterror
rasterror

This would be perfect for flights. Hop on the Wi-Fi and stream a game, if the airplane Wi-Fi is decent enough, on my phone or PC and I'm good to go. We use Azure at work and the servers are absolutely amazing for taking work loads and data at a fast rate so as long as there are no bottlenecks or hiccups you should be fine.

Avatar image for alucardswrath
alucardswrath

Nah I'm good I rather actually own the games I play without restrictions.

Avatar image for Ansem_Rev
Ansem_Rev

@alucardswrath: you do realize this is less restrictive

Avatar image for HOLYSHMUCK
HOLYSHMUCK

@Ansem_Rev: Streaming takes away ownership since it's server-based, which actually makes it MORE restrictive. Ownership literally means NO RESTRICTIONS.

Avatar image for alucardswrath
alucardswrath

@Ansem_Rev: less restrictive than playing the game you downloaded and directly playing from the system?

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Pyrosa

Xbox controllers already work on any Android phone with a micro-USB port, so long as the game supports it.

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dlCHIEF58

@Pyrosa: And newer models also have built in Bluetooth so there's that too.

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xboxfun

That’s good option you can download game not like nvidia

Avatar image for ghost140
ghost140

Im not convinced the U.S. network infrastructure is rdy for it, download sure but steaming? Not sure how good the UK is but im sure Scandinavian, S.K, and Japan are good to go. Plus like already mentioned does anyone think that the Gate keepers (Verizon,Comcast, ATT) are gonna allow that massive infux of data without someone paying (alot) for it?

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@ghost140: Streaming works great on Comcast, Spectrum (TWC), Verizon FIOS, and Google Fiber. Used them all. Permanently on two of them, neither with caps.

Mobile... umm, yeah, until your cap hits, and as long as you're in an unsaturated area. ;)

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@Pyrosa: Without caps, there are caps on Comcast Internet if you do not pay the $50 additional fee per month to DL as much as you want. You only get 1 TB per month if you do not pay that fee and it gets mighty expensive if you go over your allowance.

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darkelf83

@ghost140: Me either and it's already been proven that the cell providers "unlimited plans" are not really unlimited.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

If they want people to play streamed games over mobile 4G or 5G networks, they should also push the service providers to offer unlimited data and stop acting like bits and bytes are somehow a finite resource.

If you're limited to under 50GB of mobile data in a month, streaming games is going to burn through that very quickly, particularly if it's in high enough quality to rival console play.

Avatar image for spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@Spartan_418: In a manner of speaking bits and bytes are indeed a finite resource. More specifically, the bandwidth that any given provider can offer has a physical limit. There is a direct cost with it as well.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@spartanx169x: Yes, depending on the network and location there might be a limit to the bandwidth available during a peak usage period of the day. However in terms of the total amount of data that gets used in a month, no, not a finite resource.

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AlexOfBurg

@Spartan_418: I'm sure that will be addressed as time goes on.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@alexofburg: Hopefully yes, but generally over the years ISP data caps and throttling have become more restrictive as people's Netflix use and consumption of data has increased, instead of the other way around. We're seeing the opposite of the desired trend.

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@Spartan_418: I agree however if you are using Comcast it used to be unlimited without paying an additional fee but now those days are gone and if you want to stream unlimited you must pay an additional $50 on top of what you per month. MS can't make ISP do anything they do not want to do so it falls on the customer on what they want to do. I am not into streaming on an small screen so MS service while nice it is not for me. To use all this technology today is expensive and some cannot afford it especially when there is an monthly fee for all that adds up.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

I think it won't have the mass appeal which Microsoft intends for it like Onlive and Nvidia game streaming the former being a very cheap entry way for streaming games. Onlive sorta showed that most people would rather shell out the money for a console/PC to actually own the game.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@gamingdevil800: OnLive was ahead of its time sadly, it launched when most people's home internet wasn't fast enough to support it

Things have come a long way since 2010 though.

Today, the cheapest, lowest-end home internet services you can get in my area are 40 or 60 mbps. Plenty fast enough.

Avatar image for nativepixel
NativePixel

Not a fan of streaming games honestly but if they can make the experience a premium one, I'm sure there is an audience for this.

Avatar image for jagdedge124
jagdedge124

Well, next 5 to 10 years, this is the only way we'll be playing games. Next gen will be the last console, and from there, they'll just build on that.

I'm sure many would opt for stream service for all the new games for a monthly fee, rather than 70 dollars a pop, which is prob what next gen games will cost. Saving all that money, i'm sure they'll deal with a bit of latency.

I'm not crazy about it, but maybe Steam will come out with something in so that we can play those PC exclusive games on our Xbox One, given Microsofts Win 10 bonafides. The new machines can certainly handle the games, and maybe a Win 10 desktop on next gen can give us access to Steam stream.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

@jagdedge124: No you'll still be paying 50 or 60 upfront but instead of owning it you will stream your game instead. Games companies need to make money upfront and won't be putting their games on a monthly service till the upfront sales are practically dead.

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AlexOfBurg

All cool in theory as was PS Now , until I see it in action I couldn't give 1 minuscule piece of crap.

Avatar image for jcharp
jcharp

That's pretty cool if they can make it work reliably. Not sure I'd ever use it but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would.