Microsoft’s Xbox One offers some great unique features
Microsoft has had to get creative following their relegation to second place in the video games market.
Sony’s PS4 is the best-selling console of this generation, while Microsoft’s Xbox One looks set to drop below the Nintendo Switch.
But that hasn’t sparked a massive decline in Microsoft’s profits from their gaming division, or a lack of enthusiasm for the market on their part.
If anything, it has led to some creative thinking that has brought us a new wave of killer features.
It’s unclear whether the Xbox One X was born out of the disappointing sales of the original Xbox One, or something that was already in the works.
Whatever reason behind it, it is now the most powerful console available and has proven popular with fans.
The Xbox Game Pass has also seen a way for fans to access top titles on a subscription service, not unlike Netflix.
There has also been the release of Backwards compatibility and the promise that all games will remain available to play on future devices.
And now Microsoft is looking to offer more options when it comes to gaming, via their Xcloud streaming services.
Project Xcloud is rumoured to be in the works for both the Xbox One and future console Microsoft are working on.
And one of the main options that puts it apart from other current services is that players will be able to use their mobile phones with it.
“Ultimately, Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new choices in when and where they play, while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before,” a message from Microsoft explains.
“We are testing Project xCloud today. The test runs on devices (mobile phones, tablets) paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller through Bluetooth, and it is also playable using touch input. The immersive nature of console and PC games often requires controls that are mapped to multiple keys, buttons, sticks and triggers.
“We are developing a new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller.”
xCloud looks set to be Microsoft’s next killer Xbox feature but it probably won’t win the next generation console war by itself.
The future of gaming is certainly up for grab though, with many industry heads sharing their thoughts on what is coming next.
The xCloud streaming service starts public trials in 2019
Marc-Andre Jutras, formerly of Ubisoft and Activision, shares the idea that streaming has a bright future in gaming but won’t be replacing traditional devices.
“I think it works well with offline games. But the moment you take something online, like a shooter where you need a split second reaction, it doesn’t work,” Jutras told Gamingbolt.
“So will it be popular? I’m not sure.”
Adding: “The problem is that it’s not something you can suddenly throw money at and make the problem disappear.
“The network latency in the last 20 years hasn’t moved much. We are limited by the speed of light when it comes to this in the end.
“The data from your computer to your router to your neighbourhood ISP to whatever switch to node to node to the server farm… you will end up with lag, there’s nothing you can do about it…
“I think it will become more popular, but I don’t think it will replace proper hardware. Because playing Call of Duty on streaming? That just doesn’t work.”
Microsoft says that they are priming a new service that will allow developers to easily bring their titles to xCloud in the future.
The Xbox One X has proven a popular upgrade
Project xCloud is set to start public trials in 2019, meaning it will be ready for the Xbox One generation.
And it certainly sounds like there is an emphasis on bringing Xbox gaming to as many devices as possible.
“Our focus is on delivering an amazing added experience to existing Xbox players and on empowering developers to scale to hundreds of millions of new players across devices.
“Our goal with Project xCloud is to deliver a quality experience for all gamers on all devices that’s consistent with the speed and high-fidelity gamers experience and expect on their PCs and consoles.
“We’ve enabled compatibility with existing and future Xbox games by building out custom hardware for our datacenters that leverages our years of console and platform experience.
“We’ve architected a new customizable blade that can host the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it. We will scale those custom blades in datacenters across Azure regions over time.”
2019 is expected to be a big year for Microsoft with a final, disc-less Xbox One console reportedly launching, followed by Project Scarlett in 2020.
However, fans will ultimately have to wait and see what Microsoft has planned for their Xbox gaming brand in the years to come.