Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Stresses That Streaming Won't Take Over For A Long Time

Spencer makes it clear that xCloud is not a replacement for your console or gaming PC.

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In addition to launching the Xbox Series X console this year, Microsoft is rolling out its xCloud streaming service with Game Pass to help reach a bigger audience. The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, wants to assure people that Microsoft remains committed to the physical console, which really should be no surprise given that Microsoft has plans to make another Xbox console after the Series X.

Speaking during a GameLab fireside chat, Spencer stressed that cloud gaming will not take over and replace consoles anytime soon. The xCloud service is merely another option for people who want it.

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"I've never tried to position xCloud as a replacement for your gaming PC or for a console," he said. "I like to sit down in front of the big screen and play on a console. I'm sitting here at my PC rig right now and I like to play here. But I'm not always in front of those two devices and I want to be able to play where I want to go play on the device that I choose."

"I don't think the highest fidelity place to go play a game is going to be streamed from an Azure data centre or anybody's data center any time soon," he added.

But that doesn't mean it's not a viable place to go play. We're building this capability to enable you to go play the games that you want to go play, but not as a replacement to where you go play them today."

Spencer mentioned that "hundreds of thousands" of people are already using xCloud through its closed beta tests in some parts of the world. The feedback has been helpful for Microsoft to build a better product, and Spencer said he's excited to expand the rollout and add Game Pass to the mix this year.

"We're going to bring xCloud into Game Pass. A natural way to extend where you can play your Game Pass library is to add the ability to stream to mobile devices," he said. "We'll be talking more about that pretty soon--it's actually not too far off now--where we'll give more clarity on the business model, which I think people will really like, as well as the library of games to go play and where you can go play that. We're close. We feel good about the tech."

Right now, Microsoft's engineers are preparing for the launch by adding "hundreds of thousands" of Azure server blades around the world to help xCloud reach people globally.

"I think [xCloud] will have an impact in a lot of places--some expected and likely some unexpected," Spencer said.

Also during the interview, Spencer said it's been intriguing to hear what developers think about xCloud. Specifically, he's having conversations with creators about things like what types of games people want to play on a streaming service, if the gameplay session lengths are different than on console/PC, and what are the reasons people stop playing on a streaming game versus on a console or PC.

Whatever the case, Spencer said he's optimistic about the future for xCloud, saying it represents a "new canvas for us as creators."

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