Microsoft to upgrade its xCloud servers to Xbox Series X hardware in 2021

Microsoft is getting ready to launch its xCloud game streaming service later this year as part of Xbox Game Pass. The service will initially be powered by Xbox One S consoles in server blades in Microsoft’s datacenters, but the software giant is planning to upgrade this hardware next year. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that testing has already begun on upgraded xCloud servers, and that Microsoft is even experimenting with dedicated PC server blades for streaming PC games over xCloud.

Microsoft will use its new Xbox Series X hardware in xCloud servers next year, and it provides some big performance gains for its cloud streaming efforts, particularly on the CPU side. This next-gen processor is far more powerful and capable of running four Xbox One S game sessions simultaneously. It also includes a new built-in video encoder that is up to six times faster than the current encoder that Microsoft uses on existing xCloud servers.

An existing xCloud server blade.

Microsoft’s experiments with PC server blades for xCloud will also likely lead to Xbox Game Pass for PC games being made available through the service. The company is currently testing an xCloud client for PC that will stream Xbox games to Windows 10 PCs, but it doesn’t support PC games just yet. Microsoft will need these new PC server blades to stream Xbox Game Pass PC games to mobile devices, Windows PCs, and perhaps even Xbox consoles in the future.

We understand Microsoft is still on track for an xCloud launch later this year on Android mobile devices. Microsoft started testing xCloud on iOS earlier this year, but admitted it can’t fully test its service on Apple’s platform due to some unspecified App Store restrictions. The software maker has been trying to pressure Apple into adjusting its App Store policies to allow xCloud to launch on iOS, but those discussions are ongoing and it’s unlikely the service will launch fully on Apple devices later this year.

Microsoft, Google, and many companies looking to launch game streaming services on iOS will be watching the results of a European antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store policies very closely in the months ahead.

Comments

Wait, so does this mean XCloud, when launch on God knows what time this 2020, it will not support Xbox Series X games at launch?

Every first party game, and likely all 3rd party games run on existing gen hardware as well as Series X at launch. Considering the rollout of games on Xcloud will likely be curated, I doubt there will be any discrepancy.

I don’t think there are any Series X exclusives are there? It’s just like a more powerful Xbox One.

there are some series x console exclusives coming, such as scorn, bright memory infinite, and the medium. Its unclear when alot of these will launch though.

Since it’s a new service, I don’t expect "all" the games to be offered. Similar to GamePass, not all Xbox games are available.

3rd-party games especially will need some confirmation from the publisher prior to offering the game on GamePass, much more on this new streaming service as well.

But those games aren’t launching on Game Pass. So it won’t be a problem during the transition period.

It’s likely that new Game Pass games that are launching after XSS and XSX will also need to work on XB1 consoles.

Yeah in an unlikely scenario where there is an XSX game that doesn’t run on X1S in 2020*, MS will have to delay adding it to XCloud until 2021. But such a game is a system seller and it wouldn’t be added to XCloud in the first place.

*MS said that all of their games will be playable on current X1 consoles. But afaik devs are allowed to make XSX-only game.

All Microsoft games will be on xcloud, xbox, pc and included in game pass.

Yes, but all MS games will be playable on X1S for the next few years too – so those don’t matter here.

Not true, they said they’ll have a transition period of about 1 year (iirc) where XSX games (Halo, FM8) will also release on last gen consoles. But after the 1 year is over, players will have to buy the new XSX or own a PC if they want to play newer exclusive titles.

MS will have XCloud with XSX blades in 2021. So, XCloud can have all XSX games including those impossible on X1.
Besides, I think MS said there will be no exclusive for the next two years.

I don’t see why that is a problem.

First, 4K streaming is not really ready for prime-time. Just look at Stadia. Most of its games run subpar of the current Xbox One X in fidelity and resolution. Whether that is attributed to the hardware at the servers, Stadia server software, game developers, internet connection or a combo of those, it doesn’t matter because it is an issue and I presume that Microsoft (even though XCloud has been working pretty well) might to work out the kinks the service it might have in the early stages of full public release. Considering the day XCloud goes live (on part of the service) will be fully integrated into Game Pass and instantly making it the largest game streaming service with well over 10+ million subscribers. That is a lot of potential users having access to streaming. So, I suspect there will be issues. Why add another variable early on when there doesn’t need to be? Plus, I don’t expect even if Series X blades were up and running we would see 4K option for a while.

Secondly, all first-party games for the first year on Xbox will be cross-gen. And other then a few stragglers (e.g. potentially Resident Evil 8) almost everything else from third-party developers should be on Xbox One as well. So, it is not like you would be missing a lot of potential games being on XCloud.

Third, why throw a wrench into the plans. I suspect most streaming will be done to mobile devices. Which means that resolution and fidelity is probably wasted. Plus, Series X is an October maybe November release for consumers. I would assume that initial production chips would be best served supporting the building of millions of consumer devices over server blades.

"God knows what time this 2020" What is the big hurry? You are acting like this is a Microsoft fail. 2020 has less then six months left. And I can tell you as a representative of the almighty that I could tell you the exact date but then I have to smite you. Meanwhile just join the beta of XCloud there over 100 games (more the Stadia has right now) that you can play for free.

It you paid attention to XCloud plans this would not be a surprise. XCloud team has always noted that adding next-gen console tech would happen after the console release.

whats the point of xclouds 100 games when all you can play is on your phone and on 720 resolution. you cant play on tv, pc, tablet, laptop etc. until then its useless for a lot of people.
not to mention xclouds lag in 720. its worst than stadia and now i cant imagine 180p or 4k.

xcloud problem is they are not build for cloud gaming but put together console for cloud with a lot of baggage

Why would I stream on a TV when I can play it natively? This is why Stadia is failing, imo. People want to play at home on actual hardware in native 4k and likely just use streaming on the go on their phone. That is the right approach for most people and I honestly would probably set it it to 480 or 720 on my tiny phone screen to save data.

People want convenience, and in the end, convenience will win out. Digital catalog is the first step on that path, and not so many years ago (PS4 and XBO launch) people said they would never give up physical media. Yet here we are in the day and age that GamePass is generally well regarded by the masses.

people said they would never give up physical media

Not disagreeing, but the new consoles not even released yet still both haven’t given up on physical media.

People want convenience, and in the end, convenience will win out.

I agree, and so far that has proven to not be what Stadia offers. You could also argue that having the option of native running games and streaming is providing the most convenience – especially when factoring in capable internet; even more so when throwing fidelity into the mix.

I’ve seen a bunch of comments that people are going all in on the digital only PS5. Seeing how the games won’t run from the disc and haven’t t done for this entire generation, the disc only gives you cheaper options but you’ll probably still need to insert the disc for authenticity.

Xcloud game streaming is in testing period so far. No idea what resolution it will be when it launches. Since is a brand new service rollout that is targeting smartphones initially. I don’t see why expecting it to support many devices and 4k right out the door.

Small screens don’t benefit from anything higher than 720p. Not even the Switch runs anything higher than 720p. It’s a waste of bandwidth and resources.

I’m sure it will have support, but needs to have a smooth launch on smartphones 1st. Then hopefully PC will probably be the next target once the new Series X blades are added to support higher resolutions. Television support will all need some manufacturer cooperation especially as a stock(already installed app) on newer HDMI 2.1 4k televisions.

This is a great service for many people who don’t want to spend on a console, don’t have the space, or simply don’t play that many games to purchase a console. Awesome for people who constantly move or travel.

Currently runs great on my 5ghz router, and hopefully the 5G cell tower rollout will expand to more coverage.

I`m thinking that Microsoft initially sees streaming as a complimentary service to console gamers, rather than a full-blown standalone service in its own right like Stadia.

I think that makes a lot of sense – game on your Xbox at home, and if you want to carry on your game outside the house, then you can pick up where you left off on your phone.

Could you get me a source that says, that it lags more than Stadia? Last I read it was much better than stadia – on a mobile network at least?

Microsoft really trying to get me full mast this morning huh?

Good on them. Microsoft is always so forward thinking.

This is really good news. xCloud has been great on Android and I’m really looking forward to when they’ll finally have PC games available and the service rolls out completely. I’m okay to wait for Series X games until next year as most of those games will still be available on Xbox One.

Apple’s platform due to some unspecified App Store restrictions.

I hope Apple announces something good for xcloud in the WWDC

doubtful.

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