Microsoft is unveiling its game streaming service for the first time today. Dubbed Project xCloud, it’s designed to work across consoles, PCs, and even mobile devices. “Scaling and building out Project xCloud is a multi-year journey for us,” explains Microsoft’s cloud gaming chief Kareem Choudhry. “We’ll begin public trials in 2019 so we can learn and scale with different volumes and locations.”
Microsoft has built custom hardware for its datacenters, as The Verge previously exclusively reported, so that existing and future Xbox games will be compatible with the services. Games will be streamed to devices, and Microsoft has been testing the xCloud service with Xbox wireless controllers connected to consoles, mobile devices, and PCs. Microsoft says its research teams are “creating ways to combat latency” via advanced network techniques combined with video encoding and decoding. This should make game streaming viable on 4G networks, too.
Public trials of the service will begin next year, and Microsoft’s Xbox game streaming service will face competition from a variety of existing services. The most popular include GeForce Now, PlayStation Now, Shadow, and Liquid Sky. Microsoft’s xCloud unveiling comes just days after Google announced its own Project Stream service that will let testers play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through its Chrome browser on a laptop or desktop. Microsoft isn’t revealing exactly what it’s doing differently than the competition, but we’ll find out more details when public testing starts in 2019.