Microsoft continues to pull out all the stops in their attempt to win the next generation of console gaming. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, wrote a long article this week detailing all the reasons gamers should be excited about the forthcoming launch of the Xbox Series X and a few other exciting things the Xbox team has been working on. Project xCloud is coming out of beta soon and we know how much it’s going to cost.
About a year ago, Microsoft launched the beta of Project xCloud. It’s a game streaming service similar to Google Stadia and NVIDIA GeForce Now. If neither of those services sound familiar, it’s easiest to think of Project xCloud as Netflix for gaming. It’s a service that allows you to connect to an Xbox in the cloud from your phone or tablet and play actual Xbox games on the go. The service has been completely free during the beta period and they’ve increased the size of the game library to over 50 games.
What is Project xCloud?
While Google and NVIDIA have had their struggles with similar services, Microsoft has been uniquely positioned for success in this space. Unlike Google, Microsoft has been at the core of the video game space for almost two decades. And unlike NVIDIA, Microsoft has one of the best cloud computing infrastructures available. Microsoft Azure is perhaps only second to Amazon in the space.
We never doubted that Project xCloud would be successful. The cost of Project xCloud was always our primary question. We also wondered how they would help customers understand the difference between it and their two other gaming subscription services (Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass.) Competing services have cost as much as $20/month.
In Spencer’s post, he announced that Project xCloud will be renamed and made publically available this September. He also said that it will not be offered as yet another stand-alone subscription service. Instead, it will be bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at no additional charge.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate makes perfect sense as the new home for Project xCloud. The name Ultimate helps customers know that it is the way to get everything that Xbox has to offer. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Live Gold (a service that allows users to play games online and includes up to four free games every month) and Xbox Game Pass (a service that gives gamers access to download and play over 100 games on Xbox ONe.) Game Pass Ultimate also includes the ability to play games on Windows 10 PCs. It is available for $14.99/month.
The Future Vision
Currently, Project xCloud is limited to a library of games selected for the service. It’s also limited to Android and iOS. The plan is to scale back both of those limitations. Microsoft envisions a future where a gamer can use xCloud to start playing a game immediately while they wait for it to download on their Xbox or Windows 10 PC. They see it as a way to quickly try out new games without needing to download tens of gigabytes of data. Microsoft also plans to expand the devices you can use with Project xCloud. It seems pretty likely that they’ll bring it to Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs.
The future looks very good for Xbox gamers. While subscription fatigue is a very real problem, Xbox Game Pass has been one of the best values in gaming, and with the addition of Project xCloud, it’s only getting better.