During the Microsoft press conference at E3 2019, they finally released more information about both Projects Scarlett and xCloud. Project Scarlett will be their new beast of a console and of course, Project xCloud is their new streaming technology. The Question that is starting to present itself is whether or not these can co-exist. Project xCloud could give gamers access to 4K/60fps (and sometimes higher) content wherever they are. Project Scarlett will give gamers much of the same in a physical package.
Let’s go ahead a spoil the conclusion. YES! Game streaming technology is just getting to the point where it is actually viable for most gamers. Even though we have faith in things like Project xCloud, Google Stadia, etc., there is still a barrier of entry for some many. In many places in the county and world, internet speeds and internet data caps are still an issue. The American infrastructure is not built up to the point where game streaming is a possibility for all. This is why we will not be moving away from hardware anytime soon. For example, there are companies that have 1 gig speed offerings but if you don’t want to have a limit on your data, you have to pay an additional cost. Adding game streaming at high fidelity, most households would blow through that cap quickly.
Phil Spencer has made appearances on multiple podcasts and shows since the Microsoft E3 showcase and the question has presented itself time and time again. “If someone purchases a Scarlett, does that render project xCloud useless?” or vice versa. Phil has stated that Project xCloud is not meant to replace a console experience. It is meant to work alongside whatever the next console is meant to be. During E3, Microsoft had demo stations set up with Project xCloud running on mobile phones. Because of all of the wireless signals throughout the theater, the Xbox controllers were hard wired into the phones and the games were running from a data center 400 miles away. The games were running at 720p and in my opinion, everything was looking pretty good. I was able to play both Gears of War and Halo and I felt little to no input lag. Everything was shown on a mobile phone because Microsoft see this as something that many people use on the go.
Traveling with a console may be a thing of the past. With Project xCloud and other streaming services, gaming on the go will become a lot easier. As long as you have some sort of network connection, all you need is a Bluetooth controller and a device to stream from. There are many times where gamers want to bring their consoles with them but they are limited by the weight of a bag or access to a console. For Microsoft, they don’t care whether or not you buy their console. They just want consumers to buy the games. The audience for the hardware will not disappear. You have people that are limited by data caps and access to high speed internet. It looks like PlayStation may be beefing up their services wit help from Microsoft Azure and xCloud goes into beta this year. Once Stadia is released in November, we will start to see how things will shape up when it comes to streaming.