Microsoft revealed more of its cloud gaming initiative today, debuting the name Project xCloud. Project xCloud will use Microsoft Azure streaming tech to make Xbox gaming available on platforms like tablets and smartphones.
Microsoft is planning to run public trials of Project xCloud next year. In a video, which you can watch above, you can see that they already have franchises like Forza and Halo running on the service. If successful, Project xCloud could bring the Xbox brand to a new audience that isn’t into console or PC gaming (like because of the cost of buying additional devices).
Of course, cloud gaming depends on a strong internet connection. Project xCloud will process software from a datacenter and then stream the game via the internet. The quality of your connection will have a direct impact on the performance of your game.
Other major gaming companies have experimented with cloud gaming. OnLive was one of the first major cloud gaming services. In 2015, Sony acquired OnLive after the platform shut down. Sony uses cloud gaming for its PlayStation Now service, which lets users stream PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 games as part of a subscription plan. Last month, Sony began offering game downloads as part of PlayStation Now. In 2014, publisher Square Enix started a cloud gaming division called Shinra, but it shuttered this in 2016.
Cloud gaming has had a rocky history, but its prospects always look brighter as internet technology improves. Microsoft has stated that Project xCloud’s development will be a multiyear journey, and it will take advantage of advancements like upcoming 5G mobile networks.
Microsoft is also quick to assure Xbox fans that this does not mean the end of traditional console. Hardware like the Xbox One will still represent a “flagship experience,” but cloud gaming will open up the Xbox brand to a larger audience. It can also give console and PC gamers a way to play on new platforms, like their smartphones.