Following Google’s Stadia announcement, we now know where the bar has been set, with Google’s impressive platform offering 4k/60 and HDR video and support from major developers and publishers. The question is: has Microsoft done enough to compete with, or even surpass, Stadia?
Game streaming is nothing new, as the likes of OnLive (purchased by Sony), Playstation Now and GeForce Now have been on the market for a while. What is new and dare I say, revolutionary, is the new entrants to the market being available on so many devices. Whereas GeForce Now needs a PC or Laptop to run it, and Playstation Now has only recently been extended to work on PC’s as well as PS4, they still miss out on a huge part of the potential market – smart TV’s, smartphones and tablets.
Stadia has bridged some of this gap, being available via chromecast to almost any HDMI equipped TV and also its own brand phones the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL but Microsoft has entered with a real statement of intent, being available on any capable phone, tablet or connected device.
To me, Project xCloud looks incredible. I had my reservations about game streaming being a viable distribution method for gaming and to some degree, I still do. I prefer a console or PC for the superior latency for competitive gaming and not needing to rely on the internet connection available to you, but when it comes to getting a fix of your favourite games whenever or wherever you are – assuming you have decent online access xCloud is the kind of thing that dreams are made of..
We have had a previous demonstration, on Inside Xbox, where Microsoft showcased Forza Horizon 4 being played on a mobile phone, and the implications even then were incredible. Imagine being able to pick up the game you were playing on your console (or streaming to any of your devices) and continuing your game wherever you are. The commute to work could be a whole lot less boring!
For me, the most amazing feature is console streaming. Access your own Xbox games, wherever you are! Yes, you can stream your games from your home console to a mobile device wherever you are. I cannot emphasise enough just how awesome this is. You don’t need to purchase the games again, or pay for an additional subscription, you just connect to your console and play.
The ace up Microsoft’s sleeve is in GamePass though. The service has already proven its value as a subscription service ever since they announced all first-party games would be made available at launch, and they have started adding some great AAA titles with the likes of Metro Exodus, the Tomb Raider series, Doom, Just Cause 4 and Wolfenstein 2 all being added relatively soon after they originally launched. By making these games available to XCloud users, they have an instant library of great games, without even mentioning all of the other titles its users may have purchased.
xCloud is coming to preview in October 2019 and I for one cannot wait!