Microsoft demos Project xCloud game streaming

March 14, 2019 | 10:40

Tags: #azure #cloud-gaming #game-streaming #kareem-choudhry #project-xcloud #xbox

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has teased its latest work on Project xCloud, a cloud-powered game streaming platform with which it hopes to expand its gaming division beyond Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, showcasing the software running racing game Forza Horizon 4 on an Android smartphone.

First announced back in October last year, Microsoft's Project xCloud is claimed in the words of Kareem Choudhry to 'offer you the freedom to play on the device you want without being locked to a particular device, empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the centre of your gaming experience.' Effectively, it's the installation of high-powered gaming hardware into Azure data centres around the globe combined with clever streaming software to allow low-end devices, including smartphones and tablets, to play the latest games - and may, or may not, include the company's DeLorean technology to hide a claimed 250ms of network lag from a remote-streaming user.

'We’re developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today,' Choudhry claims in an update on the project. 'We’re adding more ways to play Xbox games. We love what’s possible when a console is connected to a 4K TV with full HDR support and surround sound – that remains a fantastic way to experience console gaming. We also believe in empowering gamers to decide when and how to play.

'While our vision for the technology is complementary to the ways in which we use consoles today, Project xCloud will also open the world of Xbox to those who may not otherwise own traditional, dedicated gaming hardware. True console-quality gaming will become available on mobile devices, providing the 2 billion-plus gamers around the world a new gateway to previously console- and PC-exclusive content. We can achieve this vision with the global distribution of Microsoft’s data centres in 54 Azure regions and the advanced network technologies developed by the team at Microsoft Research. We’re excited about our ability to deliver a best-in-class global streaming technology.'

The video demonstration, reproduced above, shows Xbox One and Windows exclusive racing game Forza Horizon 4 being streamed to an Android smartphone, to which an Xbox One controller is connected. The demo does not, however, address technical issues such as input lag, though Choudhry claims that public beta testing will begin some time later this year.

Project xCloud will launch to some stiff competition, however: Amazon and Verizon are both claimed to be working on game streaming platforms, Electronic Arts has its 'cloud native' Atlas Engine, announced mere months after picking up cloud gaming specialist GameFly, Epic Games acquired Cloudgine last year, and Google is expected to formally launch its in-browser game streaming platform Project Stream at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) next week.

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