Xbox Cloud Gaming

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Xbox Cloud Gaming
XBOX logo 2012.svg
DeveloperMicrosoft
TypeCloud gaming service
Launch dateSeptember 15, 2020; 13 months ago (2020-09-15)
Preview version1.0 / November 14, 2019; 23 months ago (2019-11-14)
Platform(s)Cross-platform
Operating system(s)Android,[1]
Microsoft Windows,[2]
iOS and iPadOS[3]
StatusActive
MembersAvailable in 26 countries
Pricing modelXbox Game Pass Ultimate
WebsiteOfficial Site

Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly known as Project xCloud) is Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming service.[4] Initially released in beta testing in November 2019, the service later launched for subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on September 15, 2020. Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming is provided to subscribers of Ultimate at no additional cost.[5]

Development[edit]

Microsoft teased the service at E3 2018 and formally announced Project xCloud several months later, in October 2018.[6] They demonstrated the service in March 2019 with the racing game Forza Horizon 4 playing on an Android smartphone with an Xbox One controller.[7] Xbox head Phil Spencer used a private server during this time to test games on a remote connection.[8] The service entered its home testing phase in May 2019, when it could be used outside the lab environment. It entered public testing later in the year and was unveiled at E3 2019.[4]

Microsoft said that its Xbox content library will make its service more appealing than competitors such as Stadia.[4] The hardware at launch used Xbox One S-based blade servers, but began to transition to Xbox Series X-based servers in June 2021.[9][10][11] Each server initially had four customized Xbox One S-based units for the 2018 teaser, but this was doubled to eight per server in a 2U enclosure for the service's launch in 2019.[12] Compared to the standard Xbox One S, power consumption has been reduced by 30% through processor-specific power tuning. Video output is set for 120 Hz to reduce latency.[13]

Trials of the service began in October 2019, and as of November 2019, the service hosts 50 games, with support in testing for Apple Inc.'s iOS mobile devices, and for Sony Interactive Entertainment's DualShock controllers.[14]

On February 12, 2020, Project xCloud launched on Apple’s mobile operating system in a preview version.[15]

On May 5, 2020, Project xCloud came to Spain (Europe) in preview (Video on live).[16]

Microsoft released Xbox Cloud Gaming across 21 countries in North America and Europe, as well as in South Korea, on September 15, 2020 for select Android devices, with support for more than 150 games at launch.[17][18]

Xbox Cloud Gaming was released in its beta form for Windows users on August 9, 2021 as a perk of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, though also required users to be registered in the Xbox Insider program.[19] It was officially released as part of the Xbox app for Windows on September 14, 2021, alongside with Remote Play support from Xbox consoles to a Windows computer.[20]

The internet speed requirements for Xbox Cloud Gaming's service is as follows:[21]

Required minimum Optimal experience and better quality
Upload bandwidth at least 4.75 Mbps 9 or more Mbps
Latency less than or equal to 125 ms below 60 ms

Availability[edit]

Cloud gaming is available in the following 26 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[22] By 2020, Microsoft plans to add more countries over time. As of November 2020, Microsoft started receiving applications from users to participate in preview testing in additional countries.[23]

Games[edit]

The Xbox Series X's backward compatibility allows xCloud to retain the existing library of Xbox games while adding new games from the Xbox Series X.[9] The Xbox Game Pass Library currently lists 276 cloud-enabled games.[24] The list includes Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, The Outer Worlds, and Yakuza Kiwami 2.[25]

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was the first game to support full touch controls.[26] Touch controls have since been added to another 85 games.[24]

Microsoft introduced cloud play support for selected original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles using its backward compatibility program starting in March 2021 with 16 titles available. Players are able to use cloud-based saved games from the original release of these titles if they have used that service as part of Xbox Live Gold. Some of the games also support official touch controls when played on mobile devices.[27]

Reception[edit]

The service received generally positive initial impressions from reviewers.[28][29][30] Playing over a T-Mobile LTE connection with just 25Mbps download speed caused no effect on image quality. Even while playing on a moving bus and train, there was no noticeable loss of image quality.[31]

Reviewers also reported that starting up games on the phone feels faster because the games are running on more powerful remote servers rather than a hard drive on a console. Load times are also minimized and closer to a PC gaming experience.[31]

Hardware[edit]

Xbox Cloud Gaming works using an Xbox Wireless Controller
Series 2 (top) and original Elite (bottom) controllers

Xbox Cloud Gaming runs via Microsoft's 54 Azure cloud computing centers, hosted in 140 countries.[6] Microsoft upgraded its server blades to the more capable Xbox Series X hardware in 2021.[32]

The service is designed to work with phones, either with touchscreen controls or game controller over Bluetooth. Notable supported controller models include:[33]

Mobile devices[edit]

Android[edit]

Xbox Cloud Gaming works with any Android phone or tablet that has at least Android 6.0 and Bluetooth 4.0. Examples of supported devices include the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, the OnePlus 8 and the Galaxy S20 Ultra.[34]

In March 2021, Microsoft released an update to the Android Xbox Cloud Gaming client that allows dual-screened devices like the Surface Duo to use the second screen to host the touch controls.[35] Several notable games such as Minecraft Dungeons and New Super Lucky's Tale support the dedicated gamepad on the second screen.[36]

Some games such as Gears 5 support motion controls using the device's built in gyro and provide a dedicated control scheme when using the gamepad mode.[37]

iOS[edit]

While Microsoft had planned to release xCloud for iOS devices, the company halted iOS testing in August 2020, asserting that policies on the Apple App Store limited what functionality they could provide for the service.[38] Apple clarified that cloud streaming services like xCloud allow Microsoft to release games onto the iOS platform that bypass the normal checks that Apple performs for other apps, and thus refused to allow the app on the platform.[39]

However, in September 2020, Apple altered its rules that allowed xCloud and other cloud gaming apps to work on iOS, with restrictions that each game must be offered as an individual download on the iOS store which the user must use before playing, though catalog apps as part of the service can list and link to these games.[40] Microsoft responded negatively to this change, stating that

"This remains a bad experience for customers. Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud. We’re committed to putting gamers at the center of everything we do, and providing a great experience is core to that mission."

— Microsoft[41]

Microsoft suggested in October 2020 that to work around Apple's restriction, it may bring xCloud to iOS as a browser-based web application, which would not have its content restricted by the App Store limitations.[42] The company later announced that it will use this approach to bring a browser-based version of the cloud gaming service to both personal computers and to iOS devices to be released sometime by the second quarter of 2021.[43] An invite-only beta test of the browser version started on April 20, 2021.[44] The full version for all Xbox Game Pass subscribers was released on June 28, 2021.[45]

Other devices[edit]

Alongside the iOS browser-based version, browser-based Xbox Cloud Gaming through supported browsers in Windows 10 and macOS computers was added for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on June 28, 2021.[43][45] Invite-only beta testing launched alongside the iOS beta test on April 20, 2021.[44] Spencer has also stated that Microsoft is considering bringing the service to smart TVs and streaming sticks.[32] Microsoft also plans to bring cloud gaming to the Xbox One console family by the end of 2021 to allow these players to access games across the console generation gap and play Xbox Series X/S-exclusive games.[46][47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "How to use cloud gaming". Microsoft. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  2. ^ "xgspreview/gettingstarted - xboxinsiders Setup on Windows 10 Devices". Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  3. ^ "xgspreview/gettingstarted - xboxinsiders Setup on Apple Devices". Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Makuch, Eddie (May 1, 2019). "New Xbox Streaming Service Reaches Major Milestone". GameSpot. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  5. ^ Ivan, Tom (July 16, 2020). "xCloud launching in September and included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Bankhurst, Adam (October 8, 2018). "Microsoft Announces Global Game Streaming Service, Project xCloud, Beta Next Year". IGN. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Higham, Michael (March 13, 2019). "Xbox Shows Project xCloud In Action, Playing Forza Horizon 4 On A Phone". GameSpot. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  8. ^ Bankhurst, Adam (April 16, 2019). "Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Plays Destiny, Crackdown with Microsoft's xCloud". IGN. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Saed, Sherif (June 18, 2020). "Xbox Series X hardware will power xCloud servers next year – report". VG247. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  10. ^ Warren, Tom (June 10, 2021). "Microsoft's Xbox Series X is about to make xCloud gaming much faster". The Verge. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  11. ^ Mackovich, Sam (June 22, 2021). "Xbox cloud upgrade is live: Series X power on your browser for over 260 games". Ars Technica. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Wild, Mike (May 2, 2020). "Project xCloud Server Blade Analysis". Fragwire. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Leadbetter, Richard (December 3, 2019). "Project xCloud tested: has Microsoft really delivered a portable Xbox One?". Digital Foundry. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Microsoft's xCloud Now Supports 50 Games, Coming to PC In 2020". Thurrott. November 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "Project xCloud finally comes to iOS, but with some serious limitations". VentureBeat. February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  16. ^ "Project xCloud finally comes to Spain and works fine over 4G mobile network". ELSATE.com (in Spanish). May 5, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  17. ^ Warren, Tom (August 4, 2020). "Microsoft's xCloud game streaming will launch on September 15th on Android". The Verge. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  18. ^ Warren, Tom (September 14, 2020). "Microsoft will have more than 150 xCloud games when it launches tomorrow". The Verge. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  19. ^ Makuch, Eddie (August 9, 2021). "Xbox Cloud Gaming Is Out Now On PC For Testers, Bringing Console Exclusives To Computers". GameSpot. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  20. ^ Clark, Mitchell (September 14, 2021). "xCloud and Xbox Remote Play are officially available on Windows". The Verge. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  21. ^ "Project XCloud: revealed, the bandwidth requirements for streaming from the Xbox One". Nerd4.life. September 28, 2019.
  22. ^ Xbox Supported Countries & Regions
  23. ^ Cloud gaming (Beta) with Xbox Game Pass
  24. ^ a b "Xbox Game Pass Library". Xbox.com.
  25. ^ Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscribers Can Play More Than 100 Games From The Cloud Starting September 15
  26. ^ Hellblade is the first Project xCloud game with full touch controls
  27. ^ Hardawar, D. (March 31, 2021). "Xbox cloud gaming adds 'Morrowind' and other backwards compatible titles". Engadget. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  28. ^ May 2020, Vic Hood 05. "Hands on: Project xCloud review". TechRadar.
  29. ^ "Xbox Game Pass's xCloud Makes Toilet Gaming Incredibly Easy".
  30. ^ "Sorry Stadia, I'm backing xCloud to be the big player in the cloud gaming wars". Android Authority. November 23, 2019.
  31. ^ a b "Microsoft xCloud Preview Hands-On Impressions: So Far, So Good! - IGN" – via www.ign.com.
  32. ^ a b Warren, Tom (November 24, 2020). "Microsoft hints at turning Xbox into an app for your TV". The Verge. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  33. ^ "What controllers can I use for cloud gaming on Xbox?". Xbox Support. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  34. ^ "Everything you need to know about Xbox Game Pass on Android". Android Central. September 15, 2020.
  35. ^ Spence, Ewan (March 20, 2021). "Microsoft Reveals Stunning Surface Update". Forbes.com. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  36. ^ Bacchus, Arif (March 18, 2021). "Xbox Game Pass Beta App Is Now Optimized With Dual-Screen Controls Catered For The Surface Duo". OnMSFT.com. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  37. ^ Bowden, Zac (March 18, 2021). "Microsoft is finally testing dual-screen support with Xbox Game Pass on Surface Duo". WindowsCentral.com. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  38. ^ Warren, Tom (August 5, 2020). "Microsoft cuts xCloud iOS testing early as its future on Apple devices remains unclear". The Verge. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  39. ^ Gilbert, Ben (August 6, 2020). "When Microsoft's ambitious 'Netflix of gaming' service launches in September, it won't arrive on Apple devices – here's why". Business Insider. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  40. ^ Leswing, Kef (September 11, 2020). "Apple issues new rules for App Store that will impact streaming game services from Google and Microsoft". CNBC. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  41. ^ Warren, Tom (September 11, 2020). "Microsoft snubs Apple's olive branch to cloud gaming: 'a bad experience for customers'". The Verge. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  42. ^ Warren, Tom (October 9, 2020). "Microsoft is bringing xCloud to iOS via the web". The Verge. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  43. ^ a b Statt, Nick (December 9, 2020). "Microsoft confirms the xCloud beta is coming to iOS and PC in spring 2021". The Verge. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  44. ^ a b Warren, Tom (April 19, 2021). "Microsoft's xCloud beta arrives on iOS and PC this week". The Verge. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  45. ^ a b Faulkner, Cameron (June 28, 2021). "Microsoft's xCloud game streaming is now widely available on iOS and PC". The Verge. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  46. ^ Ivan, Tom (June 15, 2021). "Xbox says 'many' Series X games will be playable on Xbox One via the cloud". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  47. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (August 24, 2021). "Microsoft adding cloud gaming to Xbox One and Series X|S this holiday". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved August 25, 2021.

External links[edit]