Microsoft has given an early glimpse of its Project xCloud service, showing it running Forza Horizon 4, a racing simulation, on an Android smartphone. It had an Xbox One controller connected to it through the wonders of Bluetooth. The takeaway from the live demonstration is that Project xCloud will enable seamless streaming to mobile devices with performance that is on par with game consoles.
To be clear though, Microsoft is not pitching Project xCloud as a replacement to a dedicated game console like the Xbox One. Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president of gaming cloud at Microsoft, offered up an excellent analogy of how our music listening habits are the same regardless of when or where we fire up a track or playlist.
"You don't think about what type of music you when you're at home versus when you're on the tube versus when you're driving in a car. You listen to whatever music you want in whatever situation you want, and I believe in a future where gaming is exactly the same," Choudrhy explains.
That is essentially the pitch of Project xCloud—being able to play the same games at home as you do when you're on the go, picking up where you left off, regardless of the hardware.
"We believe in the future where you will be able to seamlessly access content on your phone, tablet or another connected device. Imagine that you just began a single-player campaign the day before heading out of town and want to keep playing from where you left off. Maybe you just need a few more minutes to wrap up that weekly challenge before you head into work, but your bus just won’t wait. Or maybe the living-room television is occupied by someone else in the household when you arranged to play co-op with your friends," Microsoft says.
From Microsoft's standpoint, gaming is an inflection point. It believes that today's technology is suitable to deliver a console-quality gaming experience when powered by the right cloud infrastructure. While Microsoft is not talking about ping and lag, those are obviously important factors for something like this.
Project xCloud is powered by Azure and "advanced network technologies" developed by its Research team. Progress is apparently coming along nice, as shown in the live demo. In addition, Microsoft says it will begin public trials later this year.