Project xCloud is on the horizon, and it will come in two separate flavors. One version of xCloud, the one we tried at E3 2019, will allow you to stream from a pool of games directly from Microsoft’s servers, anywhere in the world. In order to set up this service, Microsoft will have to enter into discussions with publishers to get their games onto the system. We have reason to believe it will be tied up to the Xbox Game Pass subscription, and most likely feature a similar library of titles.
The other flavor of xCloud, will give you access to all of your personally-owned Xbox games, utilizing your home internet connection and console as a server. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans recently gave us a glimpse at the set-up wizard for this version of xCloud, which could be right around the corner.
Initially, the setup wizard will ask you to run through a series of tests to determine whether or not your network environment is prepared for personal streaming. It tests your upload speed, whether the correct ports are open either via port forwarding or UPnP, and whether you have a controller compatible with a connected mobile device. To utilize xCloud personal streaming, you’ll also have to ensure your console’s power-saving mode is disabled.
Once your network environment has been configured properly, and your Bluetooth controller paired and registered up to the service, it looks like you’ll be ready to go. Microsoft employees currently have access to xCloud in Preview, helping the Xbox team test out and finalize the service’s features.
At E3 2019, we got to try out the cloud-based variant of xCloud ourselves, and found it to be rather staggering. Hitting Gears of War active reloads was a breeze, with minimal latency and artifacting, despite the fact the video feed was being streamed from a data center some three hundred miles away.
Personal xCloud servers won’t even have to contend with such long distances and should serve as an excellent option for streaming games to another device in your home, or further afield if your internet connection can handle it. I’m not expecting to be able to play twitch-shooters on this thing, but there are dozens of slower-paced titles that would lend themselves well to personal xCloud streaming, even if you need the full might of Microsoft’s Azure cloud to play some of the more reaction-intensive titles.
The future for Xbox is increasingly exciting, and that future is just around the corner, with xCloud beta testing prepped to go live before the end of the year. Maybe some parts will arrive sooner than expected?