Microsoft intends to shake the waters, already a little cloudy, in the market of cloud gaming services, that is, the Netflix of video games. Although there are already several giants on the ground, only PlayStation Now is tuned and 100% available. Google Stadia arrived timidly and in selected markets. But Microsoft's xCloud aims to be one of its assets for the next generation of Xbox and PC, looking to learn from its rivals (especially where they are failing) and define its strategy, yet to be revealed.
Even so, internal tests are already being done on the PC via Windows 10, according to The Verge, which had exclusive access to some images from the xCloud platform. For now only the company's internal employees are testing this version, in a kind of preview. Through streaming, Xbox games can be played on the PC, through an app that will be made available to the public on the Windows Store. Previously, the service was tested by the public in Canada, on iOS and Android smartphones, with access to a catalog of 50 games.
It is advanced that to play on the PC you need a Bluetooth wireless controller from Xbox One, a Microsoft account and of course, a quality internet connection. The PC application also supports streaming games from an Xbox One console, whether it is available locally or remotely. This means that users will be able to play on vacation, on a laptop, for example, the games available at home, on their Xbox.
During these tests, employees are limited to a resolution of 720p, but will soon be upgraded to 1080p. It is said that the PC browsing experience is very similar to the Android and iOS versions, including the interface and the way to access games available for streaming. In The Verge's opinion, the service seems almost ready to be tested externally.
Initially, Microsoft was testing servers with four Xbox One S consoles, but doubled the number to eight units on a single server. It was also mentioned that the technology will start to migrate the test servers of the current generation, to those of the next, supported by the processor of the Xbox Series X. It also updated the integrated video encoder, described as six times faster than the current one to be used in xCloud tests.
Microsoft has revealed that it will have more than 3,500 video games prepared for the service, including backwards compatible Xbox 360 and Xbox titles. When the service starts, all games released for Xbox consoles will be compatible, without the need for the respective producers to make changes to the code. Microsoft says that any changes or updates that producers make to Xbox One games will automatically apply to xCloud versions.
There is still no release date for the xCloud service, but everything points to be launched later this year, probably to accompany the Xbox Series X.