Hot off the heels of Google's Project Stream announcement just last week, Microsoft is now ready to head into the cloud streaming space with their own service: Project xCloud. Announced via way of a Microsoft blog post and trailer the other day, we finally get to see exactly what Xbox head Phil Spencer was referring to this past E3 when he mentioned the streaming of console-quality games to other devices. Microsoft is calling xCloud a "global game-streaming technology" that's looking to overcome a lot of streaming's main hurdles, such as latency while providing a unique experience all of its own. The trailer showcases both Halo and Forza games being played on a mobile phone, complete with an Xbox controller usable through Bluetooth.
One of xCloud's most mysterious features is the addition of a unique touch input control scheme, meant to replicate the complexities and immersiveness of controller/mouse/keyboard commands. "We are testing Project xCloud today," wrote Microsoft in the announcement. "The test runs on devices (mobile phones, tablets) paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller through Bluetooth, and it is also playable using touch input. The immersive nature of console and PC games often requires controls that are mapped to multiple keys, buttons, sticks, and triggers. We are developing a new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides a maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller." Essentially, if you want to play using entirely touch-screen controls, Microsoft is looking to make that playstyle feel just as deep as a controller would. The details beyond this aren't known, but will likely be discussed down the line.
xCloud runs through the use of Microsoft Azure, which is their cloud service. If your mobile device supports 4G or 5G networks, then the service will work just fine for you. We still have a little bit to wait for Project xCloud to see the light of day, however. According to Microsoft, "public trials" will be sometime in 2019 across a variety of different locations, enabling them to test how well the technology works in various areas. No details were given for how to qualify for these public tests, but this too will probably be revealed further onwards. Indeed, we still have the X018 event on November 10th, which Project xCloud was announced ahead of. This event will be a lengthy live stream of all things Xbox, with the company planning on dropping some big announcements during this time. Now that xCloud has made its public reveal, hopefully, we'll receive more details on it.
Google's recently announced Project Stream entered its testing phase just last week, coinciding with the release of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey so that gamers could test it out through the service. Whereas Project Stream is focusing on letting players stream games to their browser tabs, xCloud's focus seems more put on mobile devices, something that's likely going to get more common as the years spin forward. This makes the second big company to jump into streaming. Time will tell who will follow. If you want to check out the full announcement from Microsoft, you can do so on their blog post. Don't forget to view the xCloud announcement trailer below, which is a nice near-four minute watch and shows the service in action. It's an ambitious project and one that's likely going to usher in more potential gamers who may not have considered buying a console. As more and more games become available to stream, more and more audiences can participate.