Microsoft Announces Project xCloud Gaming Initiative

In Short: Microsoft wants to help untether gamers from their device ecosystems, and it's using a new cloud gaming initiative called Project xCloud to do that. The initiative seeks to bring select XBOX games to players across a range of platforms, including mobile devices. The mobile client, if the attached video is any indication, can be played with a controller or via touchscreen controls. The service is powered by custom blades that are made up of the components of multiple XBOX One units, along with supporting framework. These blades will be added to Azure data centers over the next few years, and public testing of the service will begin in 2019.

Background: Cloud gaming is something that's been attempted a great many times, and has almost always failed spectacularly. Some in the field saw varying degrees of success for a while, such as the relatively long-lived and popular OnLive. Indeed, there are still some smaller options hanging around, such as Parsec. The movement is making the move into the big leagues with this announcement; this cloud gaming initiative will be the first with the muscle and money of an exceptionally large company like Microsoft behind it, dedicating significant resources to the cause. Big names like NVIDIA and Sony have been putting out their own takes on the trend recently, marking a pattern of bigger and bigger names in gaming getting into the field after years of neglecting it and watching would-be rivals rise and fall. It's worth noting that Google is apparently looking to get in on the action, as well. Though it's only on the Switch for now, even Nintendo is involved in game streaming in some capacity.

Impact: Microsoft entering the space means all three major gaming players are in game streaming in some form now, and Microsoft is also the second massive-scale big data company to enter the space. To be quite clear, the game streaming field is seriously heating up, and a number of high-dollar companies with specific offerings to bring to the table are stepping up. If the renewed take on the technology proves popular enough to pursue, we could see price and feature wars in the space very soon.

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