The still nascent era of cloud gaming is set to kick into high gear on September 15, when Microsoft (MSFT) officially completed its new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service with the tech giant’s project xCloud Cloud Gaming Platform.
The combined service, which will be available for $ 14.99 per month, will give gamers the ability to play Microsoft’s library of over 100 Game Pass titles via their Android (GOOG, GOOGL) smartphone and tablet. There is no word yet on when Apple’s (AAPL) version of the service will be available for iOS.
This is a new frontier for Microsoft, which has been running a public beta test of Project xCloud since October 2019. Cloud gaming promises to allow gamers to play their favorite console or PC games on virtually any device via an internet connection.
The service will be available in 22 markets, including the US and Canada, and will have access to users’ Xbox gaming profiles in which everything they play will easily complete their friends list, achievements and controller settings.
As part of the announcement, Microsoft is also unveiling partnerships with Razer, PowerA, 8BitDaw, and NACON, through which companies will build Xbox-style controllers and holders for smartphones.
Microsoft’s hope for the cloud gaming aspect of the service, which the company still considers to be beta, is that it will help the firm reach gamers outside of traditional console and PC circles. Microsoft says that there are currently 2 billion gamers in the world. But it is difficult for gaming companies to reach a population without the means to access a console or gaming PC.
However, cloud gaming promises gaming on smartphones or tablets. And given that many consumers in developing countries use their smartphones as their primary means of connecting to the web, cloud computing can be a means to get them into gaming.
But cloud gaming has made a rocky start. Google’s services such as Stadia and Nvidia’s Geforce Now had problems with providing some publishers access to their titles. Cloud gaming requires users to have a rock-solid internet connection to avoid issues such as recession and lag, which can ruin the entire game experience.
However, Microsoft says it will offer the same-day title from its first-party game studio, which they release on the console, and that it will only require a 10-megabit-per-second Internet connection for quality performance. Video streaming services such as Netflix require a speed of 5Mbps to stream HD video, but 25Mbps is required to stream 4K content.
Microsoft has the advantage of its global Azure cloud platform to ensure that users are not far away from the cloud computing facility, meaning the game should theoretically run without problems as long as users meet the 10Mbps threshold.
When the service goes live next month, we have to see something.
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