Microsoft plans 2019 beta for its mobile game streaming service

Isaac Cain
October 8, 2018

Microsoft already made its belief in that future clear with Xbox Game Pass, but now it's revealed the platform-agnostic Project xCloud service to show that its vision for game streaming isn't limited to Xbox.

Microsoft's Project xCloud service is in testing. We'll begin public trials in 2019. Many of us expected this tease to be for a project a long way away, but an announcement today makes it seem like it might actually be fairly close. In the post, Microsoft details how they want to reach the point where games are "available on demand and accessible from any screen", via streaming, just like music and movies now are. With a beta test scheduled to start in 2019, Microsoft is slowly making the hardware available at its various Azure centres.

Today, the games you play are very much dictated by the device you are using. The company has also built custom server hardware that hosts components from multiple Xbox One consoles, with plans to scale up as needed.

Developers and researchers at Microsoft Research are creating ways to combat latency through advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding. Microsoft says that the core idea behind Project xCloud is allowing console and PC gamers to play on any platform they prefer, while giving people who exclusively game on mobile a deeper experience than they're probably used to.

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While there's no specifics on devices this will be trialled with, or games available, or who will be able to take part in the first tests, it does seem like Microsoft will be making a serious push towards making its games available to players on non-gaming focused, less powerful devices from next year.

According to Microsoft, the current iteration of xCloud requires connection speeds of at least 10 megabits per second to stream games. Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network.

Writing in a post on the Official Microsoft Blog, corporate vice president of cloud gaming, Kareem Choudhry, revealed that public trials for Project xCloud will kick off next year, beginning with 4G networks and progressing to 5G as it becomes available.

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