Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox will focus on ‘XCloud’ game streaming

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Rollins

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https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/24/...scarlett-xcloud-game-streaming-service-rumors

Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox will focus on ‘XCloud’ game streaming
An XCloud service is on the way
Tom WarrenJul 24, 2018, 6:19am EDT
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Microsoft is currently developing its next-generation Xbox, with recent reports suggesting the console will launch in 2020. While the hardware will undoubtedly surpass the capabilities of the current Xbox One X console, Microsoft is also focusing on game streaming for the future of Xbox titles. Thurrott.com reports that Microsoft is also working on a second Xbox console that will be limited to streaming games.
The streaming-only console will reportedly include a low amount of local compute for handling tasks like controller input, image processing, and collision detection. These tasks are essential to reducing latency in game streaming, and Microsoft is said to be planning to slice up processing between the game running locally and in the cloud in order to reduce input lag and other image processing delays.
Microsoft is currently developing its next-generation Xbox console under the Scarlett codename. The software giant recently revealed it’s also working on a game streaming service for Xbox that will work across any device. This is a key part of Microsoft’s future plans with Xbox, and part of the company’s vision for developing its “Netflix for video games” service, Xbox Game Pass.

XCloud service is on the way

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that Microsoft is currently “all hands” on creating datacenters capable of powering the company’s game streaming service. Referred to as codename “XCloud” internally, Microsoft has been experimenting with combining four lots of custom Xbox consoles into a single server blade for its datacenters. These servers will launch initially with developers in mind to build and develop games in the cloud instead of local debug machines, and then to stream games to consumers.

Sony developed similar custom PlayStation hardware for its own PlayStation Now service, allowing consumers to stream PS2, PS3, and PS4 titles to PCs or PlayStation 4 consoles. Microsoft is planning to let a variety of devices, including mobile phones, access its own service once it’s available. Microsoft is investing significantly in its cloud streaming service as the company works towards growing its gaming business through recurring subscription models rather than just margins from console hardware and software sales.
Microsoft’s gaming revenue increased 39 percent in the recent quarter, driven primarily by software and services revenue growth of 36 percent. Microsoft has fallen behind Sony in the current generation of console sales, and now sees a clear opportunity to create a cross-device service for cloud streaming games. It won’t be an easy victory, though. There are a variety of game streaming services available to consumers right now, including GeForce Now, PlayStation Now, Shadow, and Liquid Sky.
Competition is strong, but none of the current services have fully addressed latency issues in fast paced games like first-person shooters, so Microsoft’s hardware approach could prove key to addressing some of those problems on the console side.
 

Z A C K

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Maybe that gen we'll finally see the power of the cloud.
 

Hedon

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Nice. Glad to see they are offering both Cloud consoles and traditional consoles. More choices.
 

wshowers

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This seems foolish. Especially given that the average internet speed in the US doesn't even qualify as broadband. There's nothing wrong with developing a streaming service but an entire console dedicated to it is a waste of resources IMO.
 

Hedon

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This seems foolish. Especially given that the average internet speed in the US doesn't even qualify as broadband. There's nothing wrong with developing a streaming service but an entire console dedicated to it is a waste of resources IMO.
I would like to have a traditional console, no disc drive, the most possible RAM, the best CPU, best GPU available, a 4TB HDD and a dashboard that has icons for my games and a link to the game store.
 

Plainview

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As long as it's not the only way to play the games, I'm fine. If it's the only way, Xbox is dead. Microsoft can't be that stupid.
 

Kerosene31

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This seems foolish. Especially given that the average internet speed in the US doesn't even qualify as broadband. There's nothing wrong with developing a streaming service but an entire console dedicated to it is a waste of resources IMO.
Yep, and reliability is always an issue. My internet is usually really solid, but the past week or so it has been really unreliable. Of course there's only one provider in my area so what can I do when I get random slowdowns? What exactly can I do? Call them up and sit on hold for an hour+ only to have them tell me that it is my router or maybe the game I am playing?

I am fine with digital games, but streaming? There's just no way I can rely on my ISP for that kind of performance/service.
 

Hedon

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As long as it's not the only way to play the games, I'm fine. If it's the only way, Xbox is dead. Microsoft can't be that stupid.
https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-06-11-a-chat-with-phil-spencer-about-next-gen-xbox-consoles

That's what Yves Guillemot, boss of Assassin's Creed company Ubisoft, claimed in a recent interview. Speaking to Variety, Guillemot said: "There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us."

Spencer, though, disagrees.

"I could see why he would say that," he said. "I'm a little more bullish on people having local hardware to run games for many, many years. What we will find is more people playing the quality of games we're used to seeing on a console on other devices. But that doesn't mean this experience of playing on my television with a great sound system and great frame-rate and great resolution is going to go away that quickly. What you'll see is a diversifying of the places where people can play great content.
 

GordoSan

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Maybe that gen we'll finally see the power of the cloud.
As I said in the other thread, this is probably the end result of all that cloud gaming research. They say that it's local and cloud computing, which are then spliced together. Sounds like the same concept to me, but with a platform that it's designed to run on.
 

Hedon

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Movies have been moving to the cloud, music has moved to the cloud, and a LOT of gaming is now in the cloud. It makes sense to offer more options to consumers, especially if consumers are engaged in using the cloud for their media. But like music and movies, they can be made available offline in many (not all) instances.
 

The Sunset Limited

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This seems foolish. Especially given that the average internet speed in the US doesn't even qualify as broadband. There's nothing wrong with developing a streaming service but an entire console dedicated to it is a waste of resources IMO.
Why are options foolish?
 

Nervusbreakdown

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As long as it's not the only way to play the games, I'm fine. If it's the only way, Xbox is dead. Microsoft can't be that stupid.
Well that is why is a family of consoles. They are going Amazon route. Not going to lie but I want to see how it works at least for the sake of technology.
 

Mcmasters

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I like the idea of having a console that streams all my content. Internet is pretty reliable 'round these parts. Bring it, I say! I'll buy traditional for the home system and the streaming box for the bedroom!
 

VaLLiancE

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People blindly *cough* fanboy supporting everything they do is why they are so far behind in sales.
 

The Sunset Limited

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..because they aren't well thought out options. It's not rocket science.

The infrastructure just isn't there yet for RELIABLE streaming with minimal to no lag. Period.
Microsoft thinks there is.

I'll side with Microsoft on this one.

Just because something doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean it isn't "well thought out".

Your comment was cringe worthy.
 

PHAROAHLICIOUS

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I like the idea of having a console that streams all my content. Internet is pretty reliable 'round these parts. Bring it, I say! I'll buy traditional for the home system and the streaming box for the bedroom!
Exactly what I was thinking. I have 100+ down and 30+ up so I am good.

Also 18.7 down and 5 up is average in the US. Not trying to argue. Just stating.
 

Andy

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MS is rumored to have some kind of technical solution that really helps with the streaming latency. I'm not a tech guy, so I don't understand it, but it has something to do with keeping the frame of the game in the cloud ... or something. MS does have some whiz-kid engineers, so maybe they've come up with something that really cuts the latency, who knows.

I've also heard $99 touted as a possible price for the streaming box. I have no idea where that figure came from -- maybe just wishful thinking. But if it is priced at $99, that could be a very appealing option to the casual consumer, the type who won't mind (or notice) a little latency.

Generations usually start with a battle over who can win the hardcore. If MS finds a way to appeal to the casuals right out of the gate, that could open things up in interesting ways. I'll stick with traditional consoles, but I can definitely see how a $99 next-gen streaming box would be a good seller.
 

The Living Tribunal

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Microsoft thinks there is.

I'll side with Microsoft on this one.

Just because something doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean it isn't "well thought out".

Your comment was cringe worthy.
Yeah because Microsoft has always had well thought out plans when it comes to the future of gaming.

Your judgement is cringeworthy.
 

Hedon

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MS is rumored to have some kind of technical solution that really helps with the streaming latency. I'm not a tech guy, so I don't understand it, but it has something to do with keeping the frame of the game in the cloud ... or something. MS does have some whiz-kid engineers, so maybe they've come up with something that really cuts the latency, who knows.

I've also heard $99 touted as a possible price for the streaming box. I have no idea where that figure came from -- maybe just wishful thinking. But if it is priced at $99, that could be a very appealing option to the casual consumer, the type who won't mind (or notice) a little latency. Generations usually start with a battle over who can win the hardcore. If MS finds a way to appeal to the casuals right out of the gate, that could open things up in interesting ways. I'll stick with traditional consoles, but I can definitely see how a $99 next-gen streaming box would be a good seller.
I would throw a $99 console in my bedroom to play games while laying in bed. Then again, my wife would not allow me to do so, so you can disregard.
 

wshowers

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Why are options foolish?
..because they aren't well thought out options. It's not rocket science.

The infrastructure just isn't there yet for RELIABLE streaming with minimal to no lag. Period.
Its not so much having options being foolish. It just seems like pushing out a product that your base is not adequately prepared for. As Trib said the US infrastructure is not there yet for streaming consoles. There are just too many barriers for this to be a runaway success. As Pharoah said the avg speed in the US is 18 down and 5 up. That's not remotely good enough for a game at 4K or HDR, or at 60 frames per second or higher.

Let's use Nvidia's Streaming service for example.
Nvidia’s service requires requires at least 15 Mbps for 720p at 60fps and 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60fps. If it could handle higher resolutions, the bandwidth requirement would increase accordingly. Which means getting a game to look as sharp as it does on your PS4 Pro or Xbox One X could easily mean needing 30 to 40Mbps. Now if the avg speed is 18.7 that means the hypothetical console right now could only stream 720p at 60fps, bringing us back to the PS3 and 360 days of gaming, resolution wise. Now depending on your source (FCC or Akamai) , either 15 or 25 % of the US doesn't even have access to 25 down, the benchmark the FCC uses to define broadband. So streaming wouldn't be viable for a large minority of Americans.

This doesn't even cover the other big issue of data caps. ISPs AT&T, Comcast, Cox, CenturyLink, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Exede, and HughesNet all incude data caps in their service. And while most are soft caps that include options for unlimited or overage fees, it would increase the cost for the streaming household.

I'm not saying console streaming can't be or isn't the future, it just doesn't seem to be the near future as our infrastructure just isn't ready for it. A service within the next gen console to stream games? Fine. But a stand alone console that can ONLY stream? Doomed to fail from the start and will end up being a waste of time and resources that could have gone elsewhere, IMO.

Exactly what I was thinking. I have 100+ down and 30+ up so I am good.

Also 18.7 down and 5 up is average in the US. Not trying to argue. Just stating.
The FCC uses the benchmark of 25 down and 3 up to define fixed broadband.
 

Edge BC

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Xbox One X gamedvr still can't record without going out of sync using the cloud when having an external HDD hooked up, but they're going to deliver low latency gaming? I wish them good luck.
 

The Living Tribunal

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Xbox One X gamedvr still can't record without going out of sync using the cloud when having an external HDD hooked up, but they're going to deliver low latency gaming? I wish them good luck.
Exactly....and people want to wholeheartedly trust Microsoft on delivering a lag free experience.
Sorry but I'm not drinking that koolaid.
 

The Sunset Limited

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Its not so much having options being foolish. It just seems like pushing out a product that your base is not adequately prepared for. As Trib said the US infrastructure is not there yet for streaming consoles. There are just too many barriers for this to be a runaway success. As Pharoah said the avg speed in the US is 18 down and 5 up. That's not remotely good enough for a game at 4K or HDR, or at 60 frames per second or higher.

Let's use Nvidia's Streaming service for example.
Nvidia’s service requires requires at least 15 Mbps for 720p at 60fps and 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60fps. If it could handle higher resolutions, the bandwidth requirement would increase accordingly. Which means getting a game to look as sharp as it does on your PS4 Pro or Xbox One X could easily mean needing 30 to 40Mbps. Now if the avg speed is 18.7 that means the hypothetical console right now could only stream 720p at 60fps, bringing us back to the PS3 and 360 days of gaming, resolution wise. Now depending on your source (FCC or Akamai) , either 15 or 25 % of the US doesn't even have access to 25 down, the benchmark the FCC uses to define broadband. So streaming wouldn't be viable for a large minority of Americans.

This doesn't even cover the other big issue of data caps. ISPs AT&T, Comcast, Cox, CenturyLink, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Exede, and HughesNet all incude data caps in their service. And while most are soft caps that include options for unlimited or overage fees, it would increase the cost for the streaming household.

I'm not saying console streaming can't be or isn't the future, it just doesn't seem to be the near future as our infrastructure just isn't ready for it. A service within the next gen console to stream games? Fine. But a stand alone console that can ONLY stream? Doomed to fail from the start and will end up being a waste of time and resources that could have gone elsewhere, IMO.



The FCC uses the benchmark of 25 down and 3 up to define fixed broadband.
There are just so many issues with this mentality that people seem to be ignoring. Hopefully you can address some or all of these...

1) Over the past few months a ton of big names in the industry, people who are highly intelligent and have intimate knowledge of the situation, have all come out and basically said "Streaming is coming sooner than most realize". I don't mean to offend anyone because I lump myself in with this group, but a bunch of less intelligent gamers with relatively little knowledge of the situation shout it down and spout statistics about the average internet speed in the US. This just doesn't seem to be a valid response.

2. Didn't Wayne Gretzky say something like "Good hockey players play the puck. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be". It's 2018. This device is most likely going to hit at the end of 2020, which is more than 2 years away. Could the average internet speed increase in 2.5 years? Additionally, the next generation is going to exist for six to eight more years after 2020. Why aren't people recognizing how foolish it is to base your next generation strategy on 2018 statistics?

3. Chevy makes a $60,000 Corvette. The Chevy "base" makes less than that per year. Why are people viewing this as a "Well, I can't use it so MS should just kick rocks". Maybe it's not for you. Maybe it's for gamers with high speed internet?

4. "Average household internet speed" would, I think, be less relavent than the internet speed of a certain gaming demographic, no?

I guess people just formulate opinions too quickly for my taste.
 

The Sunset Limited

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Exactly....and people want to wholeheartedly trust Microsoft on delivering a lag free experience.
Sorry but I'm not drinking that koolaid.
I don't think anyone is "wholeheartedly trusting MS on delivering a lag free experience." I don't know where you'd come up with that idea.

People are trusting that a relatively inexpensive streaming box appeals to certain gamers who have high speed internet in 2020 and beyond.

That's reasonable.
 

Mcmasters

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Exactly....and people want to wholeheartedly trust Microsoft on delivering a lag free experience.
Sorry but I'm not drinking that koolaid.
Microsoft wouldn't have something like this on offer if they didn't have a really solid plan and solution in place. They realize the challenges something like this presents.
 

Andy

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I'll go back again to Thurott's statements about MS having worked out a solution that addresses latency. It is commented on in that article, and it's under discussion at Era, but I don't have the techno-chops to discuss it intelligently. However, I do know that MS engineers seem to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat now and then (e.g., 16x boosts to native resolution on OG Xbox games). Maybe they've got something worked out that reduces the bandwidth and latency issues that people are citing as insurmountable barriers.

Not saying they have a way of reducing latency to zero; obviously that's not the case. But if they've got some scheme that can cut latency substantially, that could result in a product that would appeal to a significant percentage of the market (at least in countries where MS typically sells).

And remember again, we're talking about appealing to the casual $99 buy-in crowd, not to gamers like us.
 

Hedon

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I'll go back again to Thurott's statements about MS having worked out a solution that addresses latency. It is commented on in that article, and it's under discussion at Era, but I don't have the techno-chops to discuss it intelligently. However, I do know that MS engineers seem to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat now and then (e.g., 16x boosts to native resolution on OG Xbox games). Maybe they've got something worked out that reduces the bandwidth and latency issues that people are citing as insurmountable barriers.

Not saying they have a way of reducing latency to zero; obviously that's not the case. But if they've got some scheme that can cut latency substantially, that could result in a product that would appeal to a significant percentage of the market (at least in countries where MS typically sells).

And remember again, we're talking about appealing to the casual $99 buy-in crowd, not to gamers like us.
I don't know if you have ever used PS Now, but when I was on the trial for 7 days I didn't "notice" latency. But then again, I am not "hard core" in the sense of seeing every latent drop, every frame drop and a missing pixel.
 

wshowers

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There are just so many issues with this mentality that people seem to be ignoring. Hopefully you can address some or all of these...

1) Over the past few months a ton of big names in the industry, people who are highly intelligent and have intimate knowledge of the situation, have all come out and basically said "Streaming is coming sooner than most realize". I don't mean to offend anyone because I lump myself in with this group, but a bunch of less intelligent gamers with relatively little knowledge of the situation shout it down and spout statistics about the average internet speed in the US. This just doesn't seem to be a valid response.

2. Didn't Wayne Gretzky say something like "Good hockey players play the puck. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be". It's 2018. This device is most likely going to hit at the end of 2020, which is more than 2 years away. Could the average internet speed increase in 2.5 years? Additionally, the next generation is going to exist for six to eight more years after 2020. Why aren't people recognizing how foolish it is to base your next generation strategy on 2018 statistics?

3. Chevy makes a $60,000 Corvette. The Chevy "base" makes less than that per year. Why are people viewing this as a "Well, I can't use it so MS should just kick rocks". Maybe it's not for you. Maybe it's for gamers with high speed internet?

4. "Average household internet speed" would, I think, be less relavent than the internet speed of a certain gaming demographic, no?

I guess people just formulate opinions too quickly for my taste.

1. Yes I've seen that. Spencer and Guillemot I believe are the big believers in streaming going forward. And while I respect their positions on the issue, one has to argue that its their job to try to predict and be ahead of trends. Xbox for example took a huge leap of faith when it first announce the XB1 and all the policies attached to it. Now while those policies were indeed forward thinking and ahead of their time( Digital distribution, Always on console,family sharing etc.) it back fired like all hell on Microsoft, was very negatively perceived and landed them where they are now. MS had all the data in the world to see this was where gaming was going but was still unsuccessful.

2. You are indeed correct. Internet speeds could increase dramatically in ~ 2.5 years and console manufacturer are adjusting accordingly. However given the lack of competition between ISPs in many areas in the US, there realistically would not be a reason for ISPs increase speeds for many Americans. Not without a significant increase in cost. I'll use myself as an example. I live on the coast of South Carolina. Spectrum/TWC has had a monopoly on the area for years. We didn't see a boost in speed until 2015 when the FCC defined broadband access as 25 down. Until then we were at their mercy of whatever speeds they would provide at whatever cost. Now I'll concede this point, should the FCC redefine broadband as at least 50 down within the next 2.5 years, then MS will be in a great position with their streaming box.

3. Its not for me, but I'd wager its not for a lot of consumers either. Not if the bare minimum to make it work might be 40 down.

4. Maybe, but I'd say MS is looking to expand their ecosystem not just maintain it. In that sense it makes more sense IMO to look at avg household speeds to grab some of those casual fans and then turn the into hardcore consumers.