Sony already offered its own streaming service called PlayStation Now, while just last week, Google announced its game streaming plans called Project Stream. So with these major players already doing game streaming, it seems only fitting that Microsoft is now throwing its hat into the ring with a streaming service of its own.
Announced today, Microsoft's Project xCloud will give users the "freedom to play on the device you want without being locked to a particular device." Microsoft says that as is the case with music and movies, gaming "should be available on demand and accessible from any screen" which is why it's using its "state-of-the-art global game-streaming technology" to make that happen.
Microsoft is currently testing Project xCloud on mobile devices that are paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller via Bluetooth that allows them to play PC and console games. The test Internet speed for these tests is 10mbps (1o megabits per second) but the aim is to "deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks."
Other objectives for Project xCloud include making it "easy" for developers to make their games available through Project xCloud "with no additional work." Microsoft is also developing a "game-specific touch input overlay" so that PC and console games designed for keyboards and controllers can still be played even if the mobile user doesn't have access to the Xbox Wireless Controller. Additionally, public trials in 2019 will help Microsoft to "learn and scale with different volumes and locations."
Project xCloud seems like a very natural step forward when it comes to Microsoft's gaming plans. It reflects the company's vision that gaming shouldn't just be restricted to the Xbox One console family (or PC) and that there are more ways to make money from gaming than just selling hardware and games. For example, the company has also rolled out the Xbox All Access subscription service which provides players with access to an all-they-can play buffet of games for a monthly subscription fee.
Project xCloud also gives Microsoft access to the lucrative mobile gaming market. Mobile users have made it clear that they are looking for console-quality games on their handsets, with the success of Fortnite Battle Royale mobile being evidence of that. Plus, Microsoft has struggled to really make waves in the mobile market with its Window Phones. But with Project xCloud, Microsoft may have finally found a way to really appeal to the billions of mobile users around the globe.