Microsoft might not focus on their Xbox consoles in the near future in favor of game streaming services like their upcoming xCloud Game Pass.
The cloud is coming, and it might finally be enough to convince Microsoft to give up their console gaming ambitions in favor of something completely different.
Game streaming services are a relatively new concept that takes all the computing power of a console out of people’s living rooms and instead hosts it server side. This means that all the player needs are a terminal, a controller, and a high-speed internet connection. The player sends commands to the server where the game is actually be processed, and then the server spits out the sound and images of the game.
It’s almost like playing a game remotely.
The big benefit to a game streaming service is that you don’t need to sell a console as the player can use almost anything to play the game: a cell phone, tablet, or even competing consoles will all work.
“We want to bring Game Pass to any device that somebody wants to play on,” said Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, at a tour of their offices in Redmond, Washington. “Not just because it’s our business, but really because the business model allows for people to consume and find games that they wouldn’t have played in any other space.”
Microsoft estimates there are 2 billion gamers in the world, but most of them live in places where a big home entertainment system supporting an Xbox console is just not feasible. A game streaming service would be a much better alternative to get people to buy Microsoft games.
According to GeekWire, when Spencer was asked if this would hurt Xbox console sales, he seemed totally unconcerned.
“That is not where you make money,” Spencer said. “The business inside of games is really selling games, and selling access to games and content in means like that is the fundamental business. So if you open it up, the more often people can play, the more they’re enjoying the art form. It increases the size of the business.”
This seems to confirm earlier rumors that the xCloud service would arrive on the Nintendo Switch when it eventually launches, and also how Microsoft is much more open to cooperation with rival game makers in bringing their subscription services to their platforms.
We still don’t know when xCloud will launch or how much it’ll cost, but if successful, it will represent a tectonic shift in the way Microsoft sells games.