Microsoft’s game streaming service, Project xCloud, will enter the public domain for the first time in October. Players from the United States, United Kingdom and South Korea can enjoy AAA titles on their smartphones, tablets and other screen-based devices. However, the preview comes with some warnings.
First, this is not the console broadcast that Microsoft promised to players at E3 2019. In theory, that service will allow people to stream games from their own Xbox to their mobile devices, essentially giving each player a personal xCloud server. It is a feature that differentiates xCloud from its streaming competitors, especially Google Stadia. Microsoft said earlier that the trial version of the xCloud streaming console would launch in October, and those plans are still underway, but that’s not what today’s announcement is about. Instead, the company is launching its standard Azure live game streaming service and plans to launch public tests for the console component later this year.
Second, the public preview of xCloud is open only to Android owners. There are no concrete plans to bring xCloud to iOS devices, although a Microsoft spokesman told Engadget that the company is working on it.
“We are excited to partner with Android partners in the early stages of our public preview and we are working closely with others in the industry to bring game streaming to a wide variety of devices with a screen and Internet connection,” he said. spokesman. “We will have more to share about bringing Project xCloud to other platforms at a later date.”
Specifically, anyone who wants to participate in the xCloud preview will need a phone or tablet with Android 6.0 or higher with Bluetooth 4.0, plus an Xbox One wireless controller with Bluetooth capability. The service is launched with four games: Halo 5: Guardians, Gears 5, Killer Instinct and Sea of Thieves. These will be available for free during the preview. The players in the USA UU. And the United Kingdom can register for the public test here.
The preview will be implemented in stages, starting with a content number of players and adding more as it continues in the coming months, and maybe even years. Microsoft has not provided a timeline for public testing, saying it will last until xCloud works consistently and the technology is stable.
This will probably take a while. The transmission is based on Wi-Fi and mobile networks, and although the Internet infrastructure is constantly expanding, it is far from ubiquitous, even in the US. UU. In February, the FCC estimated that 25 million people in the country did not have access to broadband, but that figure is much higher in practice. Microsoft published a blog post in April with its own estimates that told people without broadband access and those who do not use the Internet at broadband speeds. That number reached 163 million people in the United States, many of them located in rural regions.
Connectivity is a central aspect of multiple Microsoft business models, so it is not surprising that the company is fighting the digital divide. For example, the Microsoft Airband Initiative aims to expand rural broadband access to more than 3 million people by 2022, and the company simultaneously partners with regional ISPs to implement high-speed Internet in underserved areas.
Meanwhile, 5G is in its infancy. As the backbone of any mobile game streaming effort, 5G will play an important role in the evolution of services such as xCloud and Google Stadia. But, for now, it is not widely available. For example, Verizon plans to have 5G in 30 cities by the end of the year, but it’s not exactly coast-to-coast coverage. In the United Kingdom, 5G coverage is even scarcer.