The upcoming console generation may be the last of its kind as major stakeholders in the gaming industry are pushing the cloud gaming technology. Sony had its cloud gaming service called PS Now since the start of PS4. The service was not in usable condition when it first launched, but Sony supported it, and now it can play most first-party games from the PS3/PS4 generation. It would not be wrong to say that the subscription-based service is far from perfect.
Google stadia, despite its lackluster release and controversies, pioneered cloud gaming. Stadia’s pricing model was perhaps the major cause of its demise. However, the service in comparison is better both in terms of graphics and latency than PS Now. It only leaves us with Microsoft’s implementation of cloud gaming which is releasing later this year. It will be a part of the hugely popular Xbox Game Pass service and will greatly enhance the accessibility of games. The preview of project xCloud is presented below, which shows how Microsoft is dealing with issues such as latency and bandwidth limitations.
The service will release with Xbox One S consoles as servers in Microsoft’s data centers. The familiar hardware will also allow the Xbox One S present in your living room to work as a server to stream games anywhere using an internet connection.
Now even before the release of the service, The verge reports that Microsoft has started experimenting with upgrading the hardware of its data centers. According to the report, Xbox Series X hardware will become the backbone of these servers by 2021. It is a massive hardware upgrade, and it allows up to four Xbox One S games to work concurrently. Microsoft is also working on a new video-encoder which is six times faster than the current encoder Microsoft uses. It will help in retaining the picture quality while at the same time, try to restrict the size of the video to save bandwidth. The xCloud with Xbox Series X will probably launch next year. `
Microsoft is also testing xCloud service for the PC which will be a part of Xbox Game Pass for PC when it comes out in the future. At the current stage, it only supports games developed for the Xbox platform. However, we expect that PC games will be added soon.
Lastly, the service will only be released for Android devices. Microsoft is trying to release it for the iOS devices too, but the restrictions imposed by the App Store aren’t allowing it to test the waters.