The console wars have been with us for decades, but all that’s about to change with the little box under your TV set to become superseded by the cloud.
Microsoft announced at E3 this year that they were working on game streaming from the cloud and today we get news that they’re ready to rock and roll with private trials already happening inside Microsoft and public trials of Project xCloud to commence in 2019.
Built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure, distributed to their 54 Azure datacenters across the 140 countries, games could be streamed to almost any device (connection dependent).
Microsoft has taken the specialised hardware inside a single Xbox and worked out to pack 4 of them into a server blade. By adding and connecting tens of thousands of these server blades, game sessions can be run on the Microsoft infrastructure, and at scale.
Game streaming is certainly not a new concept with OnLive‘s famous entrance and exit to the market, finally wrapping up with an acquisition by Sony. After buying the technology, Sony rolled it into a service called PlayStation Now, which has struggled to gain meaningful subscriber numbers (Sony aren’t promoting them) almost no new titles are offered on the service.
The challenge of game streaming is also a lot more difficult today, with 4K HDR graphics now expected by gamers and the latency has to be super low. The 2019 launch of Project xCloud is also timed well to coincide with the global rollout of 5G networks, something which aids in the delivery of high speeds and low-latency, making this a serious reality. One thing we don’t know is how the massive amounts of data required would be impacted by Australian mobile data caps.
Currently, the test experience is running at 10 megabits per second. Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network.Kareem Choudhry – Corporate Vice President, Gaming Cloud, Microsoft