Microsoft has confirmed that Project xCloud, the cloud-powered gaming platform it is putting up against Google's rival Stadia, is on-track for its promised October beta launch - although exclusively in the UK, US, and Korea.
First unveiled back in October 2018 and based on Xbox One hardware installed in Microsoft's Azure data centres, Project xCloud differentiates itself from Google's rival Project Stadia in one important way: While both platforms farm the heavy computational effort of running a modern triple-A game off to remote data centres, Microsoft's effort is an all-you-can-eat Netflix-for-games model; Google's, by contrast, requires you to purchase games outright.
Back in June Microsoft promised an October launch for Project xCloud, in beta form at least, beating Stadia's November launch by mere weeks. Now, the company claims it is on-track to fulfil that promise - albeit with a geographically-restricted launch available only to users in the UK, the US, and Korea.
'Since announcing Project xCloud just under a year ago, we’ve been on a journey to create, develop, and prepare the technology for gamers. A big step for us was opening up the program to Microsoft employees – since then I’ve enjoyed seeing people’s excitement and hearing the stories of how they play,' says Microsoft's Kareem Choudhry. 'At home, I’ve been using Project xCloud to play Sea of Thieves with my kids while they’re playing on the console and PC. Around the office, I’ve seen our team having an amazing time playing Halo 5: Guardians tournaments and Gears 5 campaign on nothing more than a phone or tablet. We saw the same joy of gaming as we shared the experience with fans at E3 and Gamescom, and now we’re ready for what’s next.
'Today we’re inviting the community to take the next step with us and join the Project xCloud (Preview), coming this October to the United States, United Kingdom and Korea. Public preview is a critical phase in our multi-year ambition to deliver game streaming globally at the scale and quality of experience that the gaming community deserves and expects. It’s time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real-world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in. At Xbox, we’ve made it a priority to engage with all of you to help in the creation process. We now want you to play with us and share your feedback on Project xCloud so we can iterate and improve, week after week. Join us, have fun playing, share your stories and feedback, and be part of the journey.'
Registrations for the beta are open now on the Xbox website, with invitations to be sent out in the coming weeks. Initially, the beta will be limited to a small number of users before gradually growing over time; the first games available have been confirmed as Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War 5, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves, with more to follow. Those interested in participating will need a phone or tablet running Android 6.0 or newer with Bluetooth 4.0 support, an existing Microsoft account, and a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller; no support for third-party controllers has been announced.
February 19 2021 | 17:15