Microsoft has announced a new cloud gaming project that purports to stream console and PC quality titles to multiple devices, including mobile.
Currently titled Project xCloud, the service will use “state-of-the-art global game-streaming technology” to enable players to continue gaming on whichever device they choose, according to the official Microsoft blog.
The news follows Phil Spencer’s comments at E3 2018, and is positioned as the beginning of a “multi-year journey”, with plans to kick off properly next year through public trials, testing the technology in different locations. It also pits Microsoft against Google, which is testing its own game-streaming service with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
The system has been built around compatibility with existing and future Xbox games. The corporation has build a “new customisable blade” for its datacenters that hosts various components from the Xbox One console, plus the infrastructure that connects them. These will be introduced into Microsoft’s 54 Azure regions over time.
Recognising the need to make it easy for developers to bring their titles to this service, Microsoft says any studio that has created a game for Xbox One or is currently working on one will “be able to deploy and dramatically scale access to their games across all devices on Project xCloud with no additional work.”
Part of this will include Microsot’s work on a “new, game-specific touch input overlay” that accounts for the various inputs found on the Xbox One controller. The objective is to give gamers the option of playing only with the touch screen, although the service also plans to support the Xbox One gamepad on as many devices as possible, paired via Bluetooth.
Finally, Microsoft claims it is “well equipped to address the complex challenge of cloud game-streaming” – such as latency – and hopes Project xCloud will deliver games with a similar quality to those running on console or PC. In the video above, there is a brief glimpse of a Forza title being played on an Android phone, and Halo on a tablet.
Game-streaming will reportedly be possible on 4G networks, and will take advantage of 5G networks as they roll out.
“The future of gaming is a world where you are empowered to play the games you want, with the people you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, and on any device of your choosing,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president for gaming cloud Kareem Choudhry wrote.
“Our vision for the evolution of gaming is similar to music and movies – entertainment should be available on demand and accessible from any screen.”