Project xCloud: everything we know about Microsoft's cloud streaming service

Project xCloud
Image credit: Microsoft

Last year Microsoft announced it was working on Project xCloud, a new streaming service that aims to let you play big-name games on whichever device you want, whenever you want.

Project xCloud aims to 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. 

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

Project xCloud is currently being beta tested by Microsoft employees and, according to Microsoft, can already stream 3,500 games from the cloud – with another 1,900 games potential titles on their way. The company promises it will scale out across 54 Azure regions (with data centers in some 140 countries) when the system is honed and ready.

Microsoft's cloud game-streaming service seems to be well into development, so we've gathered together everything we know about Project xCloud below for your perusal.

Project xCloud release date

Project xCloud

Image credit: Microsoft

Project xCloud doesn't currently have a release date, but we do know that public beta testing will begin later this year. At E3 2019, we were told that public beta testing should begin in the fall (i.e. sometime between September and November) and have heard rumors of some Microsoft employees already having access to the service.

We're expecting XCloud to launch in late 2019 or early 2020, perhaps to coincide with the release of the next Xbox.

Project xCloud news and features

Project xCloud

Image credit: Microsoft

Project xCloud can already stream 3,500 games

Microsoft revealed on Xbox Wire that Project xCloud can already stream 3,500 games from the cloud with another 1,900 games potential titles on their way.  

According to the company, there are a number of games that are already compatible with the service from the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox game library. In addition, Microsoft claims that any game published on the Xbox One could be xCloud-compatible without any extra work from developers. 

Streaming won't replace consoles

In a post on Xbox Wire, CVP of Gaming Cloud at Microsoft Kareem Choudhry described Project xCloud as "a vision for game-streaming technology that will complement our console hardware and give gamers more choices in how and where they play." 

"We’re developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today," says Choudhry. "We love what’s possible when a console is connected to a 4K TV with full HDR support and surround sound – that remains a fantastic way to experience console gaming." 

Project xCloud

Image credit: Microsoft

A lot of servers

Microsoft has deployed xCloud servers to data centers across 13 Azure regions – including North America, Europe and Asia – and says that it will continue to build more centers as development continues. 

Developers running tests

Microsoft says developers like Capcom and Paradox are currently running tests on the servers, and has updated its developer kit to include cloud-specific APIs. In some examples provided by Microsoft, the new developer tools allow creators to make multiplayer matches in the cloud more seamless by moving all connections to the same server, and enables games to scale font size depending on the screen you're using.

Project xCloud beta

Details of when Project xCloud's beta will launch have not yet been confirmed, but we do know that public testing will be rolled out sometime in the fall of 2019 (sometime between September and November). 

Project xCloud price

Microsoft has not revealed a price for Project xCloud yet, but we expect the service will be subscription based much like PlayStation Now.

xCloud vs Now vs Stadia

Numerical data, believe it or not, is Microsoft's greatest weapon at this point. Its biggest rival, Google Stadia, has yet to announce any details about the streaming service, telling journalists that more details would be revealed soon. 

Knowing exactly how many games we can expect when the service launches (somewhere between 3,500 and 5,400) should give some credibility to Microsoft's new game-streaming service, as should the number and locations of Microsoft's Azure servers. 

That last bit of information is so powerful, in fact, that even longtime rival Sony has said it would partner with Microsoft on building game-streaming technology. The pair recently announced a partnership, and say that it's primarily based around the shared development of Azure cloud technology – something Sony could use in the next iteration of its PlayStation Now service.

While details are still light right now about both Google Stadia and Project xCloud, we expect to hear more about both at E3 2019 or shortly after.