Currently, the big devices competing for your attention in the gaming industry are the Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and the PC, but what about your iPhone or Android device? Does your phone have a place in the gaming world?
Microsoft seems to think so, and that is why they have begun work on Project xCloud. The computing company is investing heavily in the smartphone market with this project.
Project xCloud is currently only being tested on iOS devices, both mobile phones and tablets, and will allow users to stream their Xbox games directly to their device.
Instead of downloading games directly to your device like you do for your PC or Xbox, they will be streamed over the internet. Doing this requires strong internet service or else the games will become slow and unresponsive.
To accomplish this, Microsoft has set up 54 data centers across the world to be used as hubs to power the streaming network. Most of the hubs are located in the United States and Europe.
Bringing games to this service will be no small feat, as developers will have to completely change the controls of their games for touchscreen devices for a true mobile experience. The games will still be playable with Xbox controllers through Bluetooth connection, but doing so will require the player to carry around a controller with them, severely limiting the portability.
Microsoft will begin testing Project xCloud in 2019, starting with certain regions before scaling up or scaling back depending upon how well it works. Not much else is known about how these trials are going to work or how to be a part of them.
This move is an interesting one to say the least, but it is not the first time that Microsoft has hinted at moving into the game streaming business. The company talked about doing something similar back in 2013 with the announcement of the Xbox One.
The Xbox One was originally going to be less about physical discs and more about getting your games through Xbox Live. Any game you had purchased could be played without a disc, but required a connection to the internet once every 24 hours.
People did not like that announcement, and Microsoft received a lot of backlash for it. So much backlash that they changed all those policies a couple days later.
Now they seem to be investing heavily in a streaming service, which could lead gamers to worry they may try something similar with the next Xbox.
If Project xCloud is as great as it sounds, then it has the possibility of revolutionizing the gaming industry. The games you buy won’t be tied to a certain device, but can be played on many.
For this to work, however, it requires fast internet. Currently, outside of most cities, you just cannot get the type of speed needed for such a service. With that said, things may change with these 54 data centers. They may make it easier to do on a slower connection, or xCloud may influence internet service providers to expand.
Then there is the question of if you can only stream digital games or if physical games are compatible as well. If so, then they may require a code of some kind, which brings us back to the way the Xbox One was pitched originally.
Project xCloud is an interesting idea, and it may work. We will have to see come 2019 if this service can stay or if it just becomes a failed attempt and Microsoft moves on to the next Xbox instead.