Microsoft Preps xCloud Game Streaming Trials Over Next-Gen 5G Wireless Networks

South Korea has one of the largest gaming markets in the world. Many companies have taken notice of this phenomenon and are looking for ways to engage that market. SK Telecom and Microsoft recently announced their upcoming plans for 5G-based cloud gaming in South Korea.

According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, 47.3% of the South Korea gaming market is taken up by mobile gaming. SK Telecom has the largest mobile subscriber base in the country, including 1 million 5G users. The company was the first network in the world to provide 5G wireless service to their customers.

Ryu Young sang Phil Spencer
Ryu Young-sang of SK Telecom and Phil Spencer of Microsoft. Image via Microsoft

SK Telecom will therefore let Microsoft to leverage their 5G network, while Microsoft will provide their Project xCloud gaming streaming service. Together the companies will be able to provide for and study the larger mobile gaming market in South Korea. Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President, Gaming at Microsoft, remarked, “Partnerships, like the one we announced with SK Telecom today, are critical to continuing that trajectory and moving the gaming industry forward, starting with the incredibly engaged gamers and game studios in South Korea.”

The two companies also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this past June. This MOU stated that they would collaborate on not just 5G projects, but also artificial intelligence and cloud computing. It will be interesting to see how else this MOU comes to fruition.

microsoft project xcloud

Microsoft unveiled their Project xCloud service last year, but have yet to launch it. Project XCloud allows gamers to play over 3,500 games on mobile devices while connected to the Internet. Microsoft has even patented specific Project xCloud controllers to make the gaming experience more enjoyable. The two companies will launch a preview of Project xCloud this October for selected SK Telecom’s 5G/LTE subscribers.

It is unclear if and when Project xCloud will be available in other parts of the world. Last spring it was stated that the service would be available in “13 Azure regions with an initial emphasis on proximity to key game development centers in North America, Asia and Europe.” Perhaps Microsoft is waiting to see which telecommunications companies will take the lead in 5G. Although Verizon launched their 5G network this past April, it is only available in a limited number of markets.