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Microsoft announces Project xCloud - Public beta in 2019


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Microsoft's very own game streaming platform to rival Playstation Now, Google, etc.. As usual, performance and pricing are the core of its success. Sony has not done well on the pricing front with Now but are making moves with downloadable titles to compete with Gamepass, etc. It'll be interesting to see what direction MIcrosoft goes with this and if it pushes Sony to improve Now. They have a good bit of money tied into the Gaikai technology, etc.

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I got in! I loaded it up just to see it because I didn’t have my Xbox One controller here, but then decided to see if the DS4 would work and it does!

There are 10,000 places open those in the US, Canada and the UK to test Xcloud on iOS devices. The trial game will be the Master Chief Collection.   https://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-game-stre

Wow, what a shit show, Apple. Way to screw that up.

Nice. Game streaming works really well on PSNow so I would imagine the xCloud service will be just as good or better. I don’t think performance will be much of an issue in most major cities and Azure has been very reliable in my experience. You’re right though about pricing - that’s what kills PSNow for me and the lack of PS4 content (only a few titles). Hopefully this drives Sony to offer more or a bette price (or both) on PSNow and MS do the same on xCloud.

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I’ll be interested to see what exactly this is when it rolls out. Will it just be Gamepass service games streaming? Will it be it’s own thing? Will I be able to play digital games I purchase? Will the next generation Xbox games be on this?

 

Personally, if this is the next level of “Play Anywhere” where you purchase a game digitally and you can download on your Xbox or PC and stream to other devices, it could be a game changer. Especially if they included it with XBL or something. 

 

It could really make buying games on Xbox digitally the most appealing option. 

 

The “play on your phone with an Xbox controller connected” really appeals to me. 

 

Playstation Now never really delivered on its “Play on any device” type of promise. They ended support of the service on PS3 and Vita, never really made any headway on including it in their TVs or Phones, and of course, being Sony, they were always going to limit it to Sony hardware anyway. Now it only works on PC and PS4, which makes it less useful. 

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This is definitely something that interests me. I would love to have more flexibility in terms of where I can play my games. Right now, my gaming is limited to when I have access to the TV in our family room. I would love to be able to play something like Forza Horizon 4 on my iPad, or even my iMac, without losing any visual fidelity. Of the three console platform owners, Microsoft is the one that I believe is most capable of pulling this off.

 

Like others have already said, the success of this service will likely depend on pricing and what games are available to play. I don’t want a service like PlayStation Now, which limits my selection to games available on the service. I want to be able to play all of the games I already own. I want to be able to play them on the servers in the cloud, or from the Xbox plugged into my entertainment center.

 

We'll see what Microsoft has in mind in due time, but I am eager to hear more about Project xCloud.

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1 hour ago, Magness said:

Nice. Game streaming works really well on PSNow so I would imagine the xCloud service will be just as good or better. I don’t think performance will be much of an issue in most major cities and Azure has been very reliable in my experience. You’re right though about pricing - that’s what kills PSNow for me and the lack of PS4 content (only a few titles). Hopefully this drives Sony to offer more or a bette price (or both) on PSNow and MS do the same on xCloud.

That's what I'm hoping as well. I also hope that Microsoft's more holistic approach to the Xbox platform pushes Sony to leverage what will be four gaming generations of games in the Now service. A PS Now service that includes a wide range of PSX, PS2, PS3 and PS4 titles that are both streamable and in some cases downloadable for a PS5 launch for $9.99 a month? That would be an absolutely incredible value. A value that you know Microsoft will be pushing with its own platform in the future as they will have their own library of nostalgic and current games to push. I could see a tiered Gamepass service with different price ranges depending on the content on offer.

 

This is exciting stuff and exactly where I've wanted to see the industry move for years now. It's why the initial Gaikai purchase was so exciting to me. 

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14 minutes ago, JFo said:

This is definitely something that interests me. I would love to have more flexibility in terms of where I can play my games. Right now, my gaming is limited to when I have access to the TV in our family room. I would love to be able to play something like Forza Horizon 4 on my iPad, or even my iMac, without losing any visual fidelity. Of the three console platform owners, Microsoft is the one that I believe is most capable of pulling this off.

 

You're going to lose visual fidelity.;) It's the nature of the beast and both Microsoft and Sony have console platforms to sell you in the future that will offer the level of fidelity that you won't be able to achieve on a streaming service. Which I think is a GOOD thing. I love Netflix/Vudu, etc. I love a well authored 4K UHD disc more.:)

 

Still, as you noted it will be nice to have the ability to play those titles on a variety of platforms and not be completely tethered to your console. A loss of fidelity will likely be very worth it to those who are interested in the scenarios you posit. I'm personally not one of them as I like being tethered to my console and I don't see a lot of use cases for my wanting to play something on my iPad over a dedicated display but I may be in the minority there and player choice is always a good thing.

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I’ve already been playing Forza Horizon 3 on either the 60fps, wheel-equipped PC or on the comfy sofa with the Xbox. I’ve already been playing Destiny 2 on mouse & keyboard with fancy graphics on that PC and on the shockingly lower-fidelity PS4 because that’s where my brother is for multiplayer. I’m sure I’m not the only one; this is just another compromise alongside those. 

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19 minutes ago, iainl said:

I’ve already been playing Forza Horizon 3 on either the 60fps, wheel-equipped PC or on the comfy sofa with the Xbox. I’ve already been playing Destiny 2 on mouse & keyboard with fancy graphics on that PC and on the shockingly lower-fidelity PS4 because that’s where my brother is for multiplayer. I’m sure I’m not the only one; this is just another compromise alongside those. 

 

The gap between PC and console ports has never been smaller, IMO. Destiny 2 on a proper 4K screen with  HDR is hardly "shockingly lower-fidelity" in comparison to the PC version. The same can be said for a vast majority of PC/Console comparisons when dealing with the Pro/X. While I understand the underlying point you're trying to make (i.e. loss of fidelity is trumped by convenience and that's fine), I just had to dispute the point above. We'll no doubt see that gap widen with the advent of Ray tracing but we're at most a year and a half to two years away from next generation console platforms that will target ray tracing and other new PC technologies as a core function. Cerny was talking about true ray tracing as far back as the reveal of the PS4.

 

During the extended PS3 and 360 era? Yeah, there's no question the gap was huge.

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1 hour ago, Romier S said:

Still, as you noted it will be nice to have the ability to play those titles on a variety of platforms and not be completely tethered to your console. A loss of fidelity will likely be very worth it to those who are interested in the scenarios you posit. I'm personally not one of them as I like being tethered to my console and I don't see a lot of use cases for my wanting to play something on my iPad over a dedicated display but I may be in the minority there and player choice is always a good thing.

 

Yeah, I guess it depends on the situation. In much the same way I expect a Switch game to run at 720p (or lower) in handheld mode, I wouldn't expect my Xbox games to run at 4K at 60fps either. If I'm playing on the go with a much smaller screen--say something like an smartphone--a lower resolution image would be perfectly acceptable. However, a lower resolution image on my 5K iMac would be more annoying as I would definitely notice the difference there. We'll have to wait and see what Microsoft can do to deliver the best image quality through this service.

 

That said, I would see this as a great alternative to where and how I can play my games. I would not want it to be the only way I can access my games. I still want a box connected to my TV that can play them natively.

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Just now, JFo said:

 

Yeah, I guess it depends on the situation. In much the same way I expect a Switch game to run at 720p (or lower) in handheld mode, I wouldn't expect my Xbox games to run at 4K at 60fps either. If I'm playing on the go with a much smaller screen--say something like an smartphone--a lower resolution image would be perfectly acceptable. However, a lower resolution image on my 5K iMac would be more annoying as I would definitely notice the difference there. We'll have to wait and see what Microsoft can do to deliver the best image quality through this service.

 

That said, I would see this as a great alternative to where and how I can play my games. I would not want it to be the only way I can access my games. I still want a box connected to my TV that can play them natively.

 

Agreed and its funny you mention the Switch because the intention of Now originally was to have third party devices (like TVs, ROKU's, etc.) that could play Playstation games. Microsoft is running with that concept now with handhelds, tablets, etc. That's a direct shot at the play Nintendo is making with the switch in a lot of ways. 

 

Again, the future of the industry is going to be a really interesting one and we're going to see a continued emphasis on platform/service based eco systems. Which means good things for consumers as competition gets more heated.

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Worth noting that Google is also rolling out invites to beta test their Project Stream, which would allow you to play Assassin's Creed: Odyssey in Chrome:

 

https://projectstream.google.com/aco/signup

 

The biggest factor for me in all of this is latency. If Microsoft has found a way to reduce it to a certain point, that's #1, and then quality improvements can come after that.

 

I remember testing Playstation Now when it was first released, and I tried out some third person game (I think it was one of the Dead Island games). The lag when aiming was just terrible and not the way I'd want to play. Playstation Now free trials were just reset this week, and I was thinking about trying it again, just to see how any of that had improved.

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PSNow is pretty solid at this point in its lifespan. I’ve played several titles including stuff with QTE’s and it all plays very well these days. There is still only lag and some compression to the video but, its really good and incredibly convenient to never have to install or patch :) With MS and Azure they should be even better equipped to handle latency and bandwidth.

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2 hours ago, Starhawk said:

The biggest factor for me in all of this is latency.

 

You know what? Actually, yes, this is a bigger deal to me as well. I tried PS Now a couple years back, and found the input lag to be too great. However, at the time I was living with my in-laws, and the internet setup we had in that house was not the greatest. The biggest problem was getting a reliable WiFi connection throughout the house.

 

Now, in my new home, I have much faster internet service, and all my consoles have the benefit of a wired network connection. It would be very interesting to see how much of a difference that makes, particularly if Sony's made improvements to the service to address some of those issues.

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13 hours ago, Romier S said:

 

The gap between PC and console ports has never been smaller, IMO. Destiny 2 on a proper 4K screen with  HDR is hardly "shockingly lower-fidelity" in comparison to the PC version. The same can be said for a vast majority of PC/Console comparisons when dealing with the Pro/X. While I understand the underlying point you're trying to make (i.e. loss of fidelity is trumped by convenience and that's fine), I just had to dispute the point above.

 

Oh, sure, it's still a fine looking game and if I can be objective about it the difference is nowhere near what it has been on some titles. It's just that it genuinely was a shock to me going to PS4 after the PC version, when I didn't think there was a difference at all when I went in the other direction after Destiny 2. It's the shader use that really stands out - on PS4 a lot of things like water and the close-up skin of vendors, coupled with the framerate drop, give the game a very different feel for me.

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Looking forward to seeing what this does.  The in-home streaming is hit and miss for me, but when it works it's certainly useable for certain games/activities.  Wonder if they'll tie this to gamepass?  Ideal case is that you can stream any game you own digitally (even if it requires a gold sub), but that's a lot of back end compute to support it.  Still, given the investments MS has in Azure, and the experience they have in realtime voice/video apps, I'm reasonably confident they have a good chance of being able to get this right. 

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  • 1 year later...

Microsoft significantly increased the lineup of Xcloud titles this week for those testing the service, bringing on board several third party studios.

 

Quote

505 Games 

• Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night 

• Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

 

Avalanche Studios 

• The Hunter: Call of the Wild 

 

Bandai Namco 

• Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown 

• Rad 

• Soulcalibur VI 

• Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition 

• Tekken 7 

 

Bigben Interactive 

• WRC 7 

 

Capcom 

• Devil May Cry 5 

Codemasters 

• F1 2019 

 

Curve Digital

• For the King 

 

Devolver Digital 

• Absolver 

 

EA 

• Madden NFL 20 

 

Fatshark Games 

• Vermintide 2 

 

Focus Home Interactive 

• Vampyr 

 

Funcom 

• Conan Exiles 

• Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden 

 

IO Interactive 

• Hitman 

 

Klei Entertainment 

• Mark of the Ninja: Remastered 

 

Koch Media 

• Dead Island: Definitive Edition 

 

KRAFTON 

• TERA 

 

Mad Dog Games LLC 

• World War Z 

 

Pearl Abyss 

• Black Desert Online 

 

Rebellion 

• Sniper Elite 4 

 

SEGA 

• Puyo Puyo Champions 

 

Square Enix 

• Just Cause 4 

• Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition 

• World of Final Fantasy Maxima 

 

Studio Wildcard 

• ARK: Survival Evolved 

 

Take-Two Interactive 

• Borderlands: The Handsome Collection 

• WWE 2K20 

 

Team17 

• Overcooked! 

• Yoku’s Island Express 

 

THQ Nordic 

• Battle Chasers: Nightwar 

• Darksiders 3 

 

tinyBuild 

• Hello Neighbor 

 

Unknown Worlds 

• Subnautica 

 

Wargaming 

• World of Tanks: Mercenaries 

• World of Warships: Legends 

 

Xbox Game Studios 

• Crackdown 3 

• Forza Horizon 4 

• Gears of War: Ultimate Edition 

• Gears 5 (already available on xCloud)

• Halo 5: Guardians (already available on xCloud)

• Halo Wars 2 

• Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice 

• Killer Instinct (already available on xCloud)

• Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition 

• ReCore: Definitive Edition 

• Sea of Thieves (already available on xCloud)

• State of Decay 2 

• The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut

 

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/14/20964411/microsoft-project-xcloud-new-games-list-50-games-support

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Stadia’s “pay a subscription for our service, then also buy the games from our overpriced shop” method strikes me as dead in the water. XCloud saying that anyone with it can access any supported game they can download on their console, with the implication that even if the service turns out to be rubbish or gets retired if it flops you’ll still have your purchases on a regular Xbox, makes far more sense to me. 
 

but then, I never did quite get Stadia’s central pitch, which is that it’s for people who have top-tier internet connections, an interest in video games, but who won’t drop £200 on a games console. 

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