Microsoft has announced a new game-streaming service called Project xCloud, which will allow you to stream and play your favorite Xbox games on a mobile phone or tablet. This is a different from local streaming solutions offered by Steam or NVIDIA GameStream, which requires you to own both the hardware and local network infrastructure to stream games to your other devices, this on the other hand is also known as cloud gaming. You might have heard the idea years ago, when it was first popularized by Onlive and Gaikai. It was then followed by services like Geforce Now, Sony’s Playstation Now, and Nintendo Switch’s own game streaming service in Japan.
Xbox on the other hand currently offers Xbox game pass, which is only a subscription service for games and isn’t a streaming service, though it works very similarly. Microsoft now aims to enter the streaming industry with xCloud and will offer more features than those aforementioned services, being able to play Xbox exclusives on a wide range of devices along with first party Xbox accessories. Google also has a similar experiment called project Stream currently in Beta, which will become a direct competitor to xCloud.
Game streaming isn’t perfect though, as Microsoft will need to solve issues such as video quality and latency, as well as server reliability and availability. Imagine playing the next Grand Theft Auto on your tablet on release date along with a million other users, overloading the servers and crashing it. For mobile phones especially for those using cellular data, latency will be a big challenge.
The company also plans to bring in first party accessories, such as game controllers to mobile devices to accompany xCloud, as mentioned in this microsoft research paper. It will definitely help boost interest in mobile gaming, as touch screen controls aren’t as responsive and as comfortable to use compared to our traditional buttons.