When it comes to gaming, Microsoft has had skin in the game since the first Xbox launched in 2001.
Though it was a late entry in the console market, they’ve never stopped trying to surpass their peers. This time around, their method of choice is to make gaming more like Netflix.
You see, each console generation is bigger, badder, and more powerful than the one before it. Unfortunately, that also makes them more expensive. PC gaming is the same; you can’t possible run the latest games the way they’re meant to be experienced if your computer’s hardware is a couple of generations older.
It’s a Sisyphean struggle to keep your hardware updated, even as you have to keep spending on the games you want to play on it. Microsoft has seen that, and they have an ingenious plan.
You see there’s not much to console sales, people don’t upgrade that regularly. On the other hand, when people aren’t buying your consoles, they also aren’t buying your games.
Microsoft then wants to bring AAA games to you regardless of whether you own a decent platform for them or not. And the way they do that is cloud gaming.
If you watch Netflix, you’re basically streaming your entertainment from a server. You don’t have to actually download the movie or TV series, or have a disk of it at all. The idea behind Microsoft’s Project xCloud is similar.
You just need to have a device to play on, which could be a PC, or even your phone. xCloud then lets you stream the game, basically running all the processing on the server side, and simply interacting with your device for I/O.
What that means is, you can play the latest high-graphics console game with even a mid-level smartphone. And all you need for it is good internet.
Microsoft has been teasing the project for a while, recently even demonstrating a Samsung Galaxy running games like Halo and Forza. The platform will go live later this year, and the company hopes to make it the gold standard in gaming for the near future.
They’re not alone either, other companies are also working on game streaming services. Google has been testing something it calls Project Stream, Nvidia’s GeForce Now has been in beta for the past three years with no official launch date yet, Amazon is reportedly getting into the game, as are apparently Sony and Nintendo.
So far, despite Nvidia’s head start, Microsoft might have the lead here to a first official release. In any case, you can probably expect to play a subscription fee for the service, just like with Netflix, and then play Xbox games even on your phone.
Certainly a reason to cheer for all the chindi gamers out there.