Microsoft may not be lining up a slew of console exclusive next-gen titles for the Xbox Series X, unlike Sony's strategy for the PS5 (think Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7), but it has an ace up its sleeve that could see it win the console war.
The company has been very vocal about its ethos of breaking down barriers between platforms and console generations, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer saying that the Xbox Series X won't "lock people away" from being able to experience games. This latest update sees that in action, with players being able to play Xbox titles on "any screen".
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Project xCloud is Microsoft's secret next-gen weapon, giving Google Stadia a run for its money, as well as the PS5, by bringing the Xbox's library of games to every device with a screen that it's possible to stream games to; that means potentially any smartphone or tablet could give someone a taste of what's available on Microsoft's platform and hook them into the ecosystem in a much more organic way than Sony's platform that's tied to your living room TV. Talking to The Verge (opens in new tab), Spencer said:
"We want to bring xCloud, eventually, to every screen that someone can stream games to. Right now we’re just saying mobile. There are discussions going on and we’re working through things."
The exact list of which mobile devices will support xCloud hasn't been divulged, and it sounds like Microsoft is in the midst of hashing this out, with Spencer adding that there'll be more information on this throughout August and the official launch in September. Spencer also promised more information on xCloud's support for the PS4 DualShock controller next month.
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Talking about xCloud, Spencer describes how Microsoft's game streaming will be as easy to access as something like Spotify, and will be able to be shared anywhere.
"There’s an ease of browsing and buying capability on xCloud that I find incredibly valuable today. Many times the first time I play a game will actually be on xCloud, so I can go and use it as my snackable trial experience...
"We want that trial to be as easy as it is in music and video today, where I can send you a track in Spotify today and you can stream it instantly. Over time, anywhere I see a game I should be able to give it a try."
This is a wholly different approach to Sony, but one that takes into account the way media is consumed and the direction that entertainment is heading in - with the pandemic ushering that in a bit faster.
It's not all bad news for Sony though, as the company recently invested $250m for a minority share in Fortnite developer, Epic Games. Fortnite has grown into much more than just another video game, with Epic creating online social spaces that have played host to huge concerts, with more innovation almost certainly set to follow. Sony is wise to jump on the bandwagon, but Microsoft is off to a head start that could tip the scales in its favour when xCloud and the Xbox Series X launch in just a few months.
Project xCloud (not its final name) will be available for free with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate this September with more than 100 Xbox Game Pass titles available to stream at launch.
Source: The Verge (opens in new tab)