Microsoft has unveiled Project xCloud, the game-streaming service that will let you play your favorite Xbox games on any device.
Project xCloud, which Xbox boss Phil Spencer teased at E3 2018, will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to stream games from data centers packed with Xbox consoles to phones and tablets. According to the official announcement, Microsoft has already deployed its first rack of consoles in one of these data centers for internal tests. These aren’t just a bunch of Xboxes lined up, but a new device that houses the guts of multiple Xboxes.
One of the biggest questions this brings up is how playing full console games on your phone will work. So far, Microsoft has started testing the service internally, using Bluetooth technology in phones and tablets to connect Xbox controllers to those devices. The announcement video shows a nifty device connected to the top of an Xbox One controller that functions as a stand for a phone. On top of that, games will also feature touch controls for your device.
As for when this service will become available, Microsoft is already conducting internal tests on 4G and even 5G networks, with a public test scheduled for sometime in 2019.
Originally hinted at in 2017, Project xCloud’s reveal has interesting implications for what the next Xbox might be. Previous reports indicated that Microsoft was working on two consoles, one traditional next-gen Xbox and another focused entirely on streaming, and Project xCloud seems to all but confirm these rumors. However, what we originally thought might just be a box-style streaming device could actually be a fully portable, touch-based device similar to the Nintendo Switch with hardware specifically designed to get the best possible fidelity and frame rate out of Project xCloud. We’re wildly speculating here, but the fact that Microsoft is pushing Project xCloud as a way to stream Xbox games to your phones and tablets could be a major hint as to what we can expect from Xbox’s own streaming device.