I STREAM OF GE­NIUS

Mi­crosoft’s think­ing out­side the Xbox with its stream­ing project

Games Master - - Upfront -

We’ve al­ways loved videogames here at Games Mas­ter (as you might have guessed). We’ve al­ways loved silly names, too. Mi­crosoft’s bring­ing the two to­gether with Project xCloud – hooray! The in­dus­try still has a long way to go if it’s to prove that stream­ing is the fu­ture, but this de­vel­op­ment is in­ter­est­ing, if noth­ing else. Bounc­ing around on lots of puffed-up PR phrases such as “em­pow­ered”, “gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence”, and “min­i­mal foot­print”, Mi­crosoft’s an­nounce­ment re­vealed that it’s cur­rently test­ing a sys­tem that will bring Xbox games to a wide va­ri­ety of de­vices. The idea is that play­ers will be able to ac­cess their games on Xbox One, PC… or their mo­bile de­vices such as phones and tablets. All thanks to the power of stream­ing.

If you fancy play­ing Halo on your tablet or Forza on your phone, you can ei­ther use a wire­less Xbox con­troller via Blue­tooth, or use touch­screen con­trols. The lat­ter op­tion has al­ways been rather awk­ward on mo­bile de­vices, but Mi­crosoft claims it has some­thing spe­cial up its col­lec­tive sleeve for this.

Blue sky think­ing

The sys­tem re­lies on the cloud com­put­ing ser­vice Mi­crosoft Azure. Al­ready glob­ally es­tab­lished – “with dat­a­cen­tres in 54 Azure re­gions and ser­vices avail­able in 140 coun­tries” – a big chunk of the im­por­tant work is al­ready done, though we’ll still be at the mercy of our broad­band providers (and that’s the rea­son why Switch stream­ing is cur­rently con­fined to Ja­pan, which has su­per-speedy con­nec­tions) so Mi­crosoft will have to over­come that for its stream­ing ser­vice to suc­ceed. It’s promised that la­tency will be way down, while frame rates and gen­eral graph­i­cal love­li­ness will be way up.

Some lovely prom­ises, then, but whether they’re de­liv­ered re­mains to be seen. While there are ques­tions about how games com­pa­nies will be paid, and what this means for DLC, Mi­crosoft has enough devs in-house to start with its own games. If any­one can do it, surely a com­pany as big as Mi­crosoft can.

“PLAY­ERS WILL BE ABLE TO AC­CESS THEIR GAMES ON XBOX ONE, PC… OR MO­BILE DE­VICES SUCH AS PHONES”

Just think. Thanks to Mi­crosoft, this could be you in the near fu­ture. Wear­ing a cream cardi­gan. Imag­ine that!

Steer­ing with touch­screen con­trols? Hmm, not sure. But Mi­crosoft is con­vinced it can make that work.

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