One week after Google announced plans to stream high-end games from its own servers, Microsoft says it will begin its tests for a similar service next year. The so-called Project xCloud will let people play the latest Xbox games from virtually any device, with Microsoft’s Azure data centers doing the heavy lifting instead of a powerful home console or gaming PC.
Like Google, Microsoft hasn’t offered any specifics on how much an eventual game streaming service might cost or what games it will include, though Microsoft says developers will be able to support game streaming with “no additional work.” The company also claims that its current tests require internet speeds of just 10 Mbps, far lower than the 25 Mbps connections that Google is currently targeting with its “Project Stream” tests. The subtext for Xbox developers: Microsoft’s service may reach more users with less effort than whatever rival Google is working on.
All boasting aside, both companies acknowledge that latency and reliability are still major hurdles for game streaming, which might explain why other services, like Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Sony’s PlayStation Now, haven’t gone mainstream. A true “Netflix of gaming” is probably years away.