Microsoft reveals ‘xCloud’, the dramatically changed future of the Xbox One

Microsoft has revealed “Project xCloud”, a dramatic new change that it hopes mark the future of the Xbox.

The project will allow people to play games wherever and whenever they want, on any platform they want, Microsoft said in its announcement.

In practice, it appears to be something like a Netflix or Spotify for games: allowing you to play and then stream a game onto your phone while you’re on the move, then on your PC when you get back in. Microsoft showed a phone popped into an Xbox controller, allowing people to play as normal on the handset’s small screen and streamed over the internet.

The project is already being tested and the public will be able to get involved from 2019, Microsoft said. It did not say when the full announcement will arrive.

“The future of gaming is a world where you are empowered to play the games you want, with the people you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, and on any device of your choosing,” wrote Kareem Choudhry, who leads the “gaming cloud” team at Microsoft. “Our vision for the evolution of gaming is similar to music and movies — entertainment should be available on demand and accessible from any screen.”

Microsoft is building the system so that the developers of the 3,000 games available for Xbox One today will be available across the cloud, without any more work from developers, Mr Choudhry wrote. That will allow existing Xbox players to game on the move as well as letting developers get their games in front of hundreds of millions of new people, he said.

Streaming games is taking off in recent months, as internet connections become quick enough to allow people to play detailed games without any hardware in their own house. Technologies such as Blade Shadow allow people to hire out a computer that exists somewhere else and comes to them over the internet, and Google announced in recent days that people will be able to stream the new Assassin’s Creed game in their browser.

Games are especially difficult to get right, since unlike music or films they must instantly include inputs from the user and ensure the games are sent in real time and in full quality, wrote Mr Choudhry. More details will be shared in the coming months about how that will work, he said.

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