Microsoft's Project xCloud looks to take the future of gaming by storm by delivering the ability to stream three generations of Xbox games to a broad list of hardware, with a current count of 3,500 titles that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.
While Sony has been landing some spectacular console-exclusive games, Microsoft has focused on backward compatibility with its previous generation titles. This is something that players are always keen to have, and it is an area where Sony has not always done a great job, though they have committed that the currently-named PS5 will be backward compatible with the PS4.
With that in mind, Microsoft has taken the long-term route in establishing its game library as something that should and will always be available. As technology improves with streaming services, Project xCloud is at the forefront of their strategy. On May 24th, Kareem Choudhry, Corporate Vice President in charge of the Gaming Cloud at Microsoft, described the vision for the Xbox as a platform where “you can play the games you want, with the people you want, on the devices you want.”
Recently, the company released an initial alpha version to Microsoft employees in a take-home program, and have since been actively soliciting feedback to improve upon the design to ultimately offer the best experience possible for consumers.
Of the 3,500 games touted as available right now to stream and play, 1,900 are titles from the Xbox One. While previous attempts at streaming such demanding games by other organizations have often looked choppy and half-baked at best, Choudhry stated that new enhancements are helping in the process to make everything appear as seamless as possible to the end user.
One enhancement to the standard Xbox Developer Kit (XDK) is an API that is new and tailored for streaming. Titled the “IsStreaming” API, a game that is streamed from the cloud will have certain cues that will enhance the experience by adjusting font sizes for smaller displays, or using a single server to host multiplayer matches with the idea of reducing latency and making everyone feel as though their actions are impactful and not at the mercy of lag.
For developers, the project is enticing because the process through which games scale across both Xbox hardware and the xCloud requires no additional work from them. By updating the Xbox One version, which they would do anyways, the xCloud version will also receive all updates. This may play a key factor in attracting future exclusivity deals if Project xCloud is successful, as there will be a greater potential consumer base if the streaming is as seamless and user-friendly as described.
While there is no firm date for the release date of Project xCloud, it would be logical to expect some important news to be released at E3 this year from June 11-13.