Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, the xCloud is already available as a beta for the subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, with the official launch scheduled for Android users on 15th September. At launch, it is expected to support over 100 games that are already available for Xbox One console.
While online video streaming has been around for more than a decade, the idea of streaming a PC and console-quality game to a platform anywhere around the world has remained elusive till now. But in 2019, when Microsoft announced that it was working on a similar service, under the codename of Project xCloud, gamers around the world were delighted. The service would enable Xbox game owners to stream Xbox games on any portable device and play them from virtually anywhere. This would also mean opening up new avenues for major esports betting sites like ComeOn, which can expect a surge in the number of new players with the introduction of this service.
Like Netflix, Xcloud will have an early mover advantage as currently, it will be having a virtual monopoly over this space, with no competing services. The September 15th rollout, however, will only be available for users using Android devices. Given the stringent rules laid out by Apple, which includes submitting each game to be introduced for a separate review, Microsoft has decided to give the iOS a miss this time around.
How does the streaming service work?
Rather than buying a console or a PC, the user can buy a game of their choice online. There is even no need to buy an Xbox. The inputs from the controller device are sent to a data center over the internet, and the audio and video feedbacks are sent back instantaneously.
The main drawback of this service however is the need for a reliable fast speed internet connection. If the connection is slow or patchy, it can lead to patchy graphics and stuttered gameplay.
Even with a high-speed connection, players can expect a small amount of delay, which happens while the data gets exchanged, making fast-paced competitive games harder to play.
Microsoft expects to make huge amounts of profits on the subscription fees for its xCloud service. As of now, the players will have to subscribe to its Game Pass Ultimate plan, its most expensive one, costing approximately 15 dollars a month. The subscription will also include access to multiplayer functions for free.
Microsoft expects that more than 90 million users, currently subscribed to its basic Gold Plan, will eventually upgrade to the Game Pass Ultimate plan once the services are rolled out and more games are made available, pushing up its revenues considerably.
Although companies like Google and Nvidia have tried their hands at similar concepts with their Stadia and GeForce Now services, Microsoft’s unique position with Xbox’s huge branding gives it an upper hand. Cloud gaming has always been seen as the next big thing, but its success is highly dependent on fast and reliable internet connectivity.