Microsoft has released a few more details about Project xCloud, a game streaming platform company chief executive Satya Nadella describes as 'Netflix for games', ahead of its launch to the public.
Cloud gaming could, the companies investing heavily in the concept say, be the next big thing over the coming years: Rather than having users store high-power, energy-hungry, expensive gaming hardware in their home, the heavy computational effort is shuffled across to remote servers in as-local-as-possible data centres and the resulting video stream sent back to a relatively low-powered device - including, for many platforms, smartphones and mobiles. Companies like Nvidia and Sony already have streaming services in place, while recent rumours have suggested Amazon and Verizon are set to join them in the near future.
Late last year Microsoft announced Project xCloud, its own effort to marry its data centre and gaming businesses and bring triple-A gaming to low-end devices. 'Ultimately, Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new choices in when and where they play,' explained Microsoft's Kareem Choudhry at the time, 'while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before.'
Now, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has revealed a few more details - including that the project is referred to internally as 'Netflix for games', confirming that the company is indeed chasing a model in which players will pay a set subscription fee for access to a library of titles on an all-you-can-eat basis, something it already offers on its Xbox console family under the name Xbox Game Pass.
During a meeting at the company's headquarters earlier this week, attended by Business Insider, Nadella claimed his company has 'as much a shot to build a subscription service as anyone else' aided by its impressive back catalogue of self-published titles born of its Xbox platform - titles which it plans to make available by installing custom Xbox One hardware in its Azure data centres to allow otherwise Xbox-exclusive titles to be accessed by players on desktops, laptops, tablets, and potentially even smartphones.
During its original announcement, Project xCloud was described as a multi-year effort; Nadella, however, appears to have crunched the timescale somewhat with plans to run public betas some time this year - pointing to a potential roll-out some time in 2020. That, however, is likely to put it slap-bang up against Amazon and Verizon's planned rival services, as well as Google's in-browser Project Stream.