We love games here at Hypertext but what we don’t love is having to own multiple platforms to play all the games we want to.
Over the last year there has been much talk about game streaming services which would allow gamers to stream titles much like you would do with series and movies on Netflix.
Now Microsoft has announced Project xCloud which would allow gamers to stream games to any device they wish.
“Ultimately, Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new choices in when and where they play, while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before,” explains corporate vice president for Gaming Cloud at Microsoft, Kareem Choudhry.
And “ultimately” is the key word here.
Microsoft is currently testing the service and will begin public trials in 2019 but has said that for now, its focus will be on bringing an “amazing added experience to existing Xbox players” and adding that Project xCloud is a multi-year journey.
To bring gaming high-fidelity gaming to any device Microsoft needs a fair amount of computational power which is why it has designed the Project xCloud Blade.
“We’ve architected a new customisable blade that can host the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it. We will scale those custom blades in datacenters across Azure regions over time,” Choudhry said.
Microsoft reckons its Azure datacenters (two of which are headed to South Africa before the sun sets on 2018) have the scale to meet the demands of Project xCloud and we tend to agree.
At present there 54 Azure regions with services available in 140 countries. Having a xCloud Blade locally will definitely improve latency which will be vital for streaming games in high fidelity.
Another thing Microsoft will need is a robust network. The firm says that it is combating latency with “advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding” which sounds promising.
At the moment the testing experience is running at 10Mbps which isn’t bad at all and on paper this solution may work on a 4G network. That having been said, there might be issues with 4G that arise in real world testing.
The ultimate goal would be to have 5G alongside Project xCloud as that technology would allow for a latency as low as 1ms and low latency would be vital for a great gaming experience in the cloud.