Microsoft will indeed follow through on its plan to open its xCloud game streaming service to the public later this year. Phil Spencer has announced further details on Microsoft’s game streaming service, Project xCloud. The service is now available to try out at E3, with further previews promised for October.
“We are scaling the program up globally. We have deployed project xCloud blades into data centers in 13 regions around the world. We’ve also started our alpha testing,” Skwarski told a group of reporters at an E3 briefing this morning. “Many employees like myself have access to Project xCloud.”
That information clears up some confusion Microsoft created during its E3 press conference in Los Angeles. Onstage yesterday, Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced a new console streaming feature for Xbox owners that’s basically similar to Sony’s existing Remote Play for the PlayStation 4, meaning you’ll be able to turn your Xbox at home into a streaming device so you can play any Xbox game from a mobile phone or tablet. But it’s not full-blown cloud gaming in the way xCloud is designed to be, which instead is much more like Google Stadia and supposed to let you play any game on any screen
While we don’t know Microsoft’s internal thinking here, it does seem like xCloud is not as ambitious in its current form as it was when it was first announced, when Microsoft’s cloud gaming chief Kareem Choudhry promised the service would work on consoles and PCs in addition to mobile devices. During the E3 briefing, Skwarski said that Microsoft is right now only focusing on mobile devices, so smartphones and tablets only.
That doesn’t mean xCloud won’t one day get to the level of ambition that Google has with Stadia. But Google has come out of the gate in the cloud gaming race with a rather impressive service that works across TVs, browsers, and mobile devices, and it’s capable of pushing 4K at 60 fps thanks to its 10.7 teraflops per user of processing power. Google has also outlined pricing for its service, given it a commercial release date for this November, and announced that it will let game publishers build or offer their own subscriptions on top of Stadia.