Microsoft's xCloud is an ambitious project that aims to bring all games to just about every device, for a subscription fee. It sounds good on paper but the question of technical limitations lingers, particularly quality of connection.
xCloud is aiming to bring Xbox games to just about every device you can imagine - smartphones, iPhones, tablets, Mac, PC and iPad. A definitive list is not yet available but considering that the hardware part will be done by Microsoft, you will theoretically only need a device capable of livestream and some sort of input.
According to Microsoft, issues like latency shouldn't be present since its cloud server system Azure "supports 54 regions in 140 countries" so the company already has data centres all over the world where they aim to ship Xbox hardware and eventually provide a stable service.
The video above shows an Xbox gamepad controlling various devices, but the livestreaming process might prove to be a bit of an issue. Even though there are data centres all over the world, whatever they say, latency could still prove to be a thorn in Microsoft's side.
This is because it will also depend on the users' connection, but it may be slightly too early to talk about this particular issue as there is no knowing how much bandwidth xCloud will require. You might still want to rethink streaming a game on the go, since you would be at the mercy of your provider's mobile data speed or even that of a Wi-Fi hotspot you're connected to. In addition, safety concerns for a user's data while playing connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot are an entirely different problem xCloud will need to tackle.
It's also understood that while xCloud can run on a 4G mobile service, it's the rollout of 5G that would see it fully realise its potential on smartphones.
A similar idea is already on the market from Shadow. We've heard mixed reports about this service - and the simple conclusion is that ultimately it depends on the quality of the user's connection. If the connection is good, then Shadow's system is certainly a cost-effective solution to the need to frequently upgrade PC hardware.
Some kind of public trial is expected for xCloud in 2018 - and as yet there is no mention of how much this subscription service could cost. Are we talking Netflix levels of monthly cash?
When it does come around, it would be fun to see the platform exclusive borders crumbling, due to everyone being able to play titles such as Red Dead redemption 2 on just about every device. And make no mistake, this kind of solution is inevitable, just the shape it takes remains uncertain.