Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming service will let you play Forza on your phone

Project xCloud

Microsoft has just announced a new streaming service that aims to let you play big-name games on whatever device you want, whenever you want.

Project xCloud will leverage Microsoft’s existing data centers across the globe, literally loading up servers with the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, and using these to run the games streamed directly to your mobile device of choice.

The end result will be that gamers will be able to play the likes of Halo, Forza and other classic console and PC big hitters on their phones or tablets.

You’ll be able to use an Xbox controller hooked up to your mobile via Bluetooth, or if you want to dispense with that, Microsoft is promising touch controls that will work just fine as an alternative.

Microsoft has already got the system up and running today, and when it’s honed and ready, the company promises it will scale out across 54 Azure regions (with data centers in some 140 countries).

The first public trials are expected to start in 2019, with that beta testing going towards perfecting the technology and then rolling it out across the world.

Latency worries

It’s an exciting prospect, for sure, and if Microsoft can keep a lid on latency to allow for smooth game streaming, that’ll be impressive to say the least. The company promises that it’s working on all fronts to make sure this is a slick experience, including figuring out new ways of carrying out video encoding and decoding.

Of course, as ever with these sort of services, the result will not just depend on Microsoft’s technology, network and data centers, but also the user’s connection.

Microsoft admits that it will be “pushing the edge of what’s possible even with 5G”, and of course when it comes to mobile broadband, 5G is still some way off launching, let alone becoming the norm.

Still, Project xCloud is an exciting glimpse of the future of unshackled gaming, where you can enjoy all those console or PC hits on your phone while you’re out and about.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).