It still doesn’t have a proper name yet, going by the placeholder moniker “Project xCloud”, but Microsoft’s game streaming service is nearly ready for launch. It has had an extended beta period, with users around the world testing the service, trying a variety of different games, and putting it through its paces.
Microsoft has announced that they are happy enough with how it is operating and that they’re ready to launch it wider, with a full-scale release planned for September 15th.
It’s interesting timing, where Microsoft is trying to reconcile the marketing message that you no longer need to own a box that sits under your TV in order to play games, whilst also trying to sell you a box that sits under your TV in order to play games, but I do ultimately think that it’s a smart move to offer game streaming as a supplement to dedicated local gaming devices, rather than as a replacement for them. One of the biggest reasons that Stadia has struggled to gain traction is that it’s asking users to leave behind the way they’ve been playing games for years, to instead play games exclusively via streaming. Microsoft is adding game streaming as an option in additions to their console and PC offerings, rather than as a replacement for them.
The Project xCloud beta is now closed, meaning you’ve missed your chance to give it a try ahead of launch, but starting on September 15th, if you are a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, you’ll be able to begin trying it on any supported device, with any supported Game Controller. It’s confirmed to work with Android devices so far, but Microsoft has said that they hope to get it available on every screen imaginable. I’m sure they’re trying to cut a deal with Apple, and I’m sure Apple is probably playing hardball with those negotiations.
Microsoft has not yet confirmed which games will be available on Project xCloud, but they have said that over 100 of the games currently on Game Pass will be supported at launch. It’s probably a safe bet that their first-party games will be available. Microsoft has said that “Many of the games in the Project xCloud preview will be available” in the final version, but they’re not able to commit to all of those games sticking around. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to confirm the final lineup of games, since they’re going to be announcing that information when the service goes live on September 15th
Based on their promotional materials, in addition to what looks like the entire Microsoft first-party lineup, we also know that Yakuza Kiwame 2, Ark: Survival Evolved, F1 2019, and Destiny 2 will be included.
Microsoft have deliberately made the point that “Project xCloud” is not a final name, with the final name yet to be released. What’s your guess for the name? I would speculate that they’re probably just going to drop “Project”, and go with “xCloud”. It leans on their Xbox branding, and it communicates the idea quite clearly. Do you have any guesses? Let us know in the comments.