Xbox Cloud Gaming - The App Formerly Known As XCloud

Rollins

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Xbox chief hints at TV streaming sticks for xCloud

2021 is going to be an interesting year for xCloud
Tom WarrenOctober 23, 2020 5:56 am

Microsoft’s head of gaming and Xbox, Phil Spencer, has hinted that the company is planning TV streaming sticks for its xCloud cloud gaming service. In an interview with Stratechery, Spencer discusses the potential for additional tiers of Xbox Game Pass, which could include a free bundled TV stick to play xCloud games.


“I think you’re going to see lower priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud,” says Spencer. “You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your television and buying the controller.”

Spencer also teases the potential for an “Xbox Game Pass Platinum” with guaranteed access to new Xbox hardware. Microsoft has been bundling Xbox subscriptions and hardware together in something called Xbox All Access, which includes access to Xbox Game Pass and the latest Xbox Series X and Series X consoles. It’s a bundle that Spencer is obviously keen to experiment with in the future.

The idea of an Xbox game streaming TV stick isn’t a new one for Microsoft. The software giant was preparing lightweight Xbox streaming devices back in 2016, but it canceled the hardware. Microsoft has been investigating streaming sticks and hardware ever since the company originally demonstrated Halo 4 streaming from the cloud to Windows and Windows Phones all the way back in 2013.

Spencer’s first public mention of Xbox streaming TV sticks implies the hardware could be ready soon, though. Microsoft has so far only bundled xCloud game streaming with its highest Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier ($14.99 per month). There’s certainly room for additional tiers, and easier access to the service beyond just Android devices.

Microsoft partnered with Samsung earlier this year for xCloud, and it’s only a matter of time before we see the company’s game streaming service appear on Samsung TVs. 2021 could be an interesting year for xCloud, especially as Microsoft is planning to upgrade its server blades to the more capable Xbox Series X hardware. We should also start to see xCloud appear on Facebook Gaming next year.

Microsoft is also working on a web-based iOS solution for xCloud that will debut in early 2021. Spencer confirms our recent report on this iOS workaround in the Stratechery interview, but warns that not being in the App Store is still a challenge for xCloud. “We have a good solution on iOS that I think it’ll be coming kind of early next year, I feel good about the solution that we have,” says Spencer.
 
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Nervusbreakdown

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I just did a cloud streaming outside my network connected to my xbox hardware.

Let me tell you something, this is going to be a real game-changer here.

I have a really good phone but I only have a 4G connection and I was playing to test Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and I can tell you right now, it ran almost at 60 fps.
I am pretty sure if I go and get the 5G phones it will with no doubt hit 60 fps.

I can leave this Xbox one and still connect to from almost anywhere at any time,

MS has changed the game once again as they did with Xbox live back in 2002.

I will be making a video on this soon.
 

GordoSan

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From link:

Xbox Game Pass cloud infrastructure is getting a big upgrade throughout 2021.

OK, this reminds me that newly acquired advanced Bethesda streaming tech is probably making its way into xCloud this year!
 
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GordoSan

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More on Orion streaming technology from Bethesda:

[Orion is] our name for a group of patented technologies that optimise game engines for performance in a cloud environment," Bethesda's director of publishing James Altman proclaimed on stage. "It can work with any game engine, and will improve player experiences no matter which game you're playing, or whether you're streaming on Stadia, on [Microsoft's] xCloud, or another streaming platform."

So how does it work? Well, if a developer wants to make their game playable on streaming services, they can integrate Orion straight into their game engine. This will optimise the game on a software level, and allow for streaming speeds up to 20% faster per frame, according to id's chief tech officer Robert Duffy, leading to a dramatic reduction in latency - which for a long time has been the 'big bad' hampering every streaming service known to man. He also added that it shouldn't matter how far away you live from your nearest streaming data centre, either, as Orion-enabled games should still let you stream at max settings.

Orion also cuts down the amount of bandwidth you need to get the game down your internet pipes, too, requiring up to 40% less than a non-Orion-enabled game. This is good news for anyone with an internet data cap, as it means streaming games won't eat up as much of your monthly allowance - which is another one of the big hurdles that might prevent Stadia and other streaming services from really getting off the ground.

"We leveraged our extensive experience in game engine technology to tackle streaming from a different angle – the game engine itself," said Duffy. "We wanted a faster, better streaming experience for players, at the level of performance intended by the game’s developers, and at reduced cost and expanded reach for streaming providers. Orion delivers on those goals and will vastly improve streaming video games."

 

karmakid

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*edit to add below

I also tried this xCloud browser version on the new Edge app for Xbox consoles, but it’s not fully supported yet. Both the service and the browser are in early beta right now, so full support might come at a later date. Either way, I imagine that xCloud will arrive on Xbox consoles through the ability to quickly stream a game while you’re waiting for it to download in the background. That’s really where xCloud makes sense on a console that can already play Xbox games.

This browser-based version of xCloud does open up the service to many more possibilities, too. Xbox chief Phil Spencer has previously hinted at TV streaming sticks for xCloud, and Microsoft has already committed to bringing the service to Facebook Gaming at some point. It’s easy to imagine Xbox Game Streaming apps for smart TVs, coupled with the ability to access the service from web browsers to ensure almost any device can access an Xbox Game Pass subscription. That’s clearly Microsoft’s goal here, and this beta feels like just the beginning.
 
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aceattorney

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LMFAO I have never heard that guy's voice before and it is not at all like I'd imagine it would be. He does not have that sophisticated and intelligent voice (and manner of speaking for that matter) that I had always imagined.
 

karmakid

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LMFAO I have never heard that guy's voice before and it is not at all like I'd imagine it would be. He does not have that sophisticated and intelligent voice (and manner of speaking for that matter) that I had always imagined.
I was gonna put a “expect the unexpected” gif here but this is just too funny not to post


 

Tentonhammer

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Yeah, it's expensive but it's basically a giant folding Phablet and when you think along those lines (basically a new phone), it's really not that expensive when comparing to Galaxy Phones and top of the line iPhones. My biggest gripe with playing on a phone is the screen size. Full on console games just were not designed to be played that small. Not unplayable esp. if you know the game but text is generally unreadable and xCloud connection for me has been a mixed bag....tho I've only tested over internal wi-fi and not 4G. Biggest diff is that the 3DS games (and other handhelds) were designed with the small screen size in mind. I'm sure it's pretty cool with one screen for control and one for visuals...though I would always go for a paired controller instead of touch....but in a pinch touch is a nice option esp. with the Duo.

MS cannot release this to TVs/streaming devices fast enough IMO. If rumor is true that they will have their own branded device, you would have a mini traveling console....not as good as the real deal but in the end probably close enough as long as the wifi isn't sh*t, they improve some of the connection issues and they update to the Series X blades. Also, would be nice if any device released would have a wired option (i.e. like Chromecast does) as I always prefer wired. I basically bought an OG XBO off Craigs List for my bedroom TV for $35 because I could not get an Android TV/Chromecast to work with the Android gamepass app...won't work on my FireTV (not stick) either. All unsupported but others have seemed to gotten it to work. At this point, I figure I'll keep the OG XBO until a supported streaming device hits...my wife hates me for buying this bulky ridiculous thing even if it is temporary....lol.
 
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karmakid

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...and Streaming App/Stick for TVs confirmed! Now just release date please MS :)
Hopefully the stick supports their proprietary wireless connection for their controllers, maybe Bluetooth as well (doubt it). if you’re not using it to play games on your tv you could and happen to have a pc then you could just use it as an adapter to play games there
 
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aceattorney

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They're also upgrading all the servers to Xbox Series X blades. However, will this mean >1080p cloud streaming? If not, the resolution will make the games look horrible on a 4K tv.
 
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Tentonhammer

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They're also upgrading all the servers to Xbox Series X blades. However, will this mean >1080p cloud streaming? If not, the resolution will make the games look horrible on a 4K tv.
It should. I mean it's about the backend processing power AND your bandwidth so in a perfect world, it would auto-scale the resolution based on that. Stadia is able to do higher rez due to the backend blades being run on 10.2 TF cards and good netcode. With XSX blades, we'll be getting 12 TF as opposed to 1.31 TF for X1S...so I would hope to see a marked improvement there.
 
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Rollins

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You’ll soon be able to try Xbox games before downloading them​

Microsoft’s xCloud service is coming to Xbox consoles​

Tom WarrenJune 10, 2021 9:00 am

Microsoft is planning to let Xbox console owners try games before they download them later this year. The new Xbox dashboard feature will allow console players to stream games through Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service instantly. It’s part of a push to integrate xCloud more into Xbox consoles and into the Xbox app on Windows PCs.

“Later this year, we’ll add cloud gaming directly to the Xbox app on PCs, and integrated into our console experience, to light up all kinds of scenarios, like ‘try before you download,’” says Kareem Choudhry, head of cloud gaming at Microsoft.

Microsoft isn’t detailing all of the ways that xCloud will appear on Xbox consoles, but trying games before you download them certainly opens up possibilities for Xbox owners who want to know what a game is like before buying it.


Microsoft’s Xbox Series X dashboard.

Either way, utilizing xCloud to let Xbox players quickly jump into games before they’re downloaded will be particularly useful on day one game launches. With games regularly exceeding 100GB, it often takes hours to download titles if you didn’t plan ahead and preload a game before its launch.

In a briefing with members of the press ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox E3 event on Sunday, the company’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, was keen to stress Microsoft’s commitment to Xbox Game Pass and cloud gaming.

“So right now we’re the only platform shipping games on console, PC, and cloud simultaneously,” says Spencer. “Others bring console games to PC years later, not only making people buy their hardware up front, but then charging them a second time to play on PC.”

Microsoft’s Xbox chief calls out Sony’s approach
Spencer is of course referring to Sony and its ongoing efforts to bring more PlayStation games to PC years after their launch. Microsoft obviously prefers its own approach to launching simultaneously across multiple platforms and being available on Xbox Game Pass on day one.

Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft is also committing to some form of a timeline for exclusive first-party content for the service. “In terms of the overall lineup, we want to get to a point of releasing a new game every quarter ... we know that a thriving entertainment service needs a consistent and exciting flow of new content,” explains Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios. “So our portfolio will continue to grow as our service grows.”

Microsoft isn’t providing an update on its Xbox Game Pass subscription growth yet. The service jumped to 18 million subscribers earlier this year, after growing steadily throughout 2020. Today’s announcements are part of some broader Xbox and xCloud news, including server upgrades to xCloud and Microsoft’s plans for an Xbox TV app and streaming sticks.
 

Tentonhammer

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Why doesn't xCloud just use servers, like Azure, but with Xbox Series like hardware in it? Or is that what they are doing? They make it sounds like they are actually just stacking a bunch of Series X consoles together.
That is exactly what they are doing and like Karmakid stated, it's for ease of compatibility. Services like Stadia and Luna require coding by the devs to support the cloud service while Xbox games just run natively on the hardware with no coding required by the devs.