Video game streaming is finally about to take off with major companies like Microsoft and Google showing off their respective products. In fact, Google is already ready to fully launch Google Stadia in over 14 countries with more promised to be coming later. On the other side, Microsoft is still being cautious with Project xCloud with the streaming service still in Preview (join here) in only a couple of regions.
While on paper it may seem that Google has a better and more polished product, as it is being released, the reality is vastly different. Microsoft has been in the games industry for a very long time and despite some agonizingly bad howlers *cough* Xbox One launch *cough*, the company knows what it’s doing.
In addition to that, Phil Spencer has managed to miraculously turn the ship around at Xbox, setting the company on a very bright course riddled with success. X019 was a proof of that positive direction, with the company making a strong statement when it comes to game streaming. So, here are a few reasons why Microsoft is doing a better job of game streaming with xCloud than Google Stadia despite the latter getting full release:
1. The sheer number of games on Project xCloud is already much higher than Google Stadia
Microsoft started the preview program for Project xCloud last month in only 3 regions: US, UK, and Korea. In addition to that, there weren’t many games in the preview either with Halo 5, Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and Killer Instinct being the only games playable. While the responses were positive for Microsoft on the latency front, Google didn’t feel threatened by it thanks to its much larger library and imminent final release.
However, when Google did finally play its cards with Stadia, the responses were not what the company was hoping for. Google Stadia will be launching in 14 countries with a very small library of games, most of which are older releases. This doesn’t really give Google an upper hand when it comes to winning the customer base.
On the Xbox side of things though, it looks like Microsoft still had a few tricks up its sleeve. At X019, Microsoft announced that Project xCloud will be getting over 50 more games in the preview. This number is massive as compared to what Google has to offer. Furthermore, the company also hopes to bring Game Pass to xCloud, expanding the already-impressive library even further.
Stadia is still waiting on releases like Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk 2077 but it would still be hard to justify Stadia’s cost when compared with the value proposition that Project xCloud has to offer.
2. Xbox Game Pass will be a game-changer for Project xCloud
At X019, one of the biggest announcements was the addition of Xbox Game Pass to Project xCloud. This will provide a massive and crucial boost to Microsoft’s game streaming service. While Google will still be battling away trying to add more games to the Stadia library, xCloud will already have an extremely fleshed out library of games thanks to Game Pass.
Additionally, all of the Xbox Game Studio releases will be making their way to xCloud on release day as well. So, even in preview, Microsoft has already managed to cramp a wider variety of games into its streaming service than Google has done with Stadia on release.
3. Support for a wide variety of controllers and devices
Initially, Google had the upper hand when it came to supporting a wider variety of devices and peripherals. You could use your existing Xbox One or PS4 controller for Google Stadia on the platform of your choice. However, after X019, Microsoft has managed to bridge that gap as well.
Project xCloud will, therefore, support Xbox One controllers, PS4 Dualshock 4 Controllers, and other third-party Bluetooth controllers as well. In addition to that, the company also promised to bring xCloud to Windows and other platforms in the coming days.
During early testing, it also seems like Microsoft’s service seems to fare better when it comes to handling latency. While Google might still have superiority over Microsoft in terms of data centers, having that level of playability in the testing and preview phase is still shockingly impressive.
4. Project xCloud has wider range of regions than Stadia
Google Stadia will launch in 14 countries, mainly consisting of the US, UK, Canada and Europe. While this is a good place to start considering the fact that these countries have decent infrastructure for game streaming, the diversity of these regions is still pretty thin.
On the other side, Project xCloud will soon be coming to other less-common regions as well like India and Japan. Both of these are massive markets when it comes to gaming and Microsoft will surely want to pounce on these regions first. India, especially, will be an interesting one though. This is because the potential for the gaming market to expand there is extremely high.
The biggest barrier to gaming is still the initial cost of buying a console or a PC. Project xCloud bypasses that initial cost so it will be interesting to see how it performs in mass markets like India.
However, despite all of this, it is still early days for both streaming services. It would be interesting to see how they develop over time, and what the situation would be when Google adds big titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Doom Eternal to its Stadia library. Until then, we can only speculate.