Microsoft to focus on game streaming for the Xbox

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There have been several reports indicating that Microsoft is already working on the successor to the Xbox One family i.e. the next generation Xbox and it seems like the software giant has turned to the cloud for next-gen. The plan it seems is to introduce two new consoles, one of them in particular, would be a stream-only console which would use Microsoft’s ‘XCloud‘ service.

The Xbox One didn’t get a good start like its PlayStation rival did and by the time Microsoft implemented drastic changes that would win back a lot of people, it was too late. The Xbox has been decisively beaten by the PS4 in this generation of consoles. One can argue all day on which console is better but the sales figures speak for themselves, according to which the Ps4 is the clear winner.

Microsoft has tried to address many criticisms that were thrown the Xbox One’s way over the years, such as introducing a new slimmer version in the Xbox One S to address concerns regarding the original console’s large size. The Xbox One X also came to be as a response to the power-hungry gamers who wanted to do 4K gaming at an affordable price. However, Microsoft now seems to know what they want to do going forward, and that’s game streaming.

What is Microsoft Planning?

According to Thurott.com, Microsoft is working on a next-generation console under the codename of “Project Scarlett“. If other reports are true, then the two consoles would have a massive difference in hardware. One would likely be more powerful than the Xbox One X which would serve the purpose of a regular console. However, the other console, the streaming-only console is the more interesting one.

Microsoft has been pretty vocal about creating a game streaming service that would work on any device, like a “Netflix for video games”. It would be a service similar to the Xbox Game pass, but better in a way. The Xbox Game Pass subscription gives people access to a number of games for a small fee per month. However, they still need to download these games in order to play them, so space can be an issue and the fact that you would need proper Xbox hardware to run these games, which will likely not be found in the streaming console.

The idea of game streaming is that all the hardware and performance work goes to the datacenters that Microsoft will establish. The only thing the end consumer needs to have is a good internet connection and they can play a game with maximum resolution and fps on a severely underpowered device.

This was demonstrated with Nvidia’s game streaming service, GeForce Now where they showed how a $200 laptop was able to run Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege where in reality, there should’ve been no way because the laptop didn’t even have enough space in the hard drive. Therefore, game streaming is something that’s highly desirable because it’s likely going to push down the cost of the console significantly, making it more affordable for everyone.

According to rumors, Microsoft is testing the service, codenamed “XCloud” by experimenting with combining four lots of custom Xbox consoles into a single server blade for its data centers. Access to the servers and the service itself will likely be given to developers first so they can start making games on the cloud instead of local machines.

Does Microsoft have an edge heading into the next generation of consoles?

Although the game streaming service sounds really exciting, Microsoft is not the first one to come up with such a service. PlayStation also has a similar service called the PlayStation Now which allowed people to stream Ps2, Ps3 and Ps4 games to their PCs and Ps4 consoles.

There is also Nvidia’s GeForce Now which as already mentioned showed how anyone can play high-end games on any computer. There also other services too, so the competition is fierce. However, given Microsoft’s increased revenue which was driven mostly by software and subscription services, they’re focusing heavily on cloud streaming.

Even though the competition is fierce, no one has been able to master game streaming perfectly. There are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration such as input lag, latency, image processing delays etc. It’s reported that Microsoft’s console exclusive to streaming will have mechanisms in place to avoid all these issues so that it feels like you’re playing the game using your machine’s local hardware.

Furthermore, most of these services are limited to one or two platforms. Microsoft plans to introduce the service for all devices, which would give it an edge over the rest of the competition. Therefore, it’s possible that despite existing competition, Microsoft can pull off a victory through the next-gen Xbox built for streaming. Whatever the case, these are exciting times to be a gamer as whatever happens, in the end, the end-consumer is going to benefit the most.

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