Xbox Head Phil Spencer says Microsoft’s Project xCloud is not meant to replace consoles, but rather, to complement them.
Spencer sat down with Giant Bomb at E3 to chat about Game Pass, the next Xbox, and Project xCloud, Microsoft’s premium streaming service that will allow players to access their Xbox games library on any device. Some hail xCloud, like Google’s Stadia platform, as an alternative to owning a console, but Spencer says this just isn’t the case.
One challenge these streaming platforms face is ISP data caps; there are fees for exceeding your data cap, which is easy to do when streaming for 65 hours can use up 1TB of data.
“Which is exactly why having a local device that you can download the games to and play from on your TV is going to be important,” Spencer says. “I don’t think today everybody wants every frame of gameplay – look at the number of hours I’ve played of Destiny 2 as an example – I don’t want all of those to be me writing checks to Comcast.”
Spencer doesn’t tout xCloud as a way to play games “in 8K at 120 Hz.,” saying that cloud technology just isn’t there yet.
“I think cloud technology has the capability over years to create a really compelling experience in the home on a large screen,” Spencer says. “[But] the best way for you to go play Cyberpunk… for you to go play any of the games that were shown here [at E3] for years, is going to be dedicated hardware in your home with local storage of those things bleeding to the screen as fast as it can.”
Instead of looking at xCloud as a substitute to owning a console, Spencer wants consumers to see xCloud as a convenience option that allows you to continue playing games on the go.
“I’m not trying to tell people to stop playing console games… or PC games or even [not] to buy a second copy of the game so you can play it somewhere else,” Spencer says. “What I’m saying is: I like playing on Xbox Live and when I’m away from my console or my PC, I want to continue playing my games… and this is a convenience feature for you… this is about, I want an experience on my phone that will go with me.”
Microsoft is demoing xCloud at E3 right now, and tech outlet Ars Technica found that input latency – the time between pressing a button and an action happening in-game, was “imperceptibly slower than normal.” It’s a great proof of concept for the technology, especially considering that the data centers from which Microsoft is streaming are hours away in the San Francisco Bay Area, Spencer says.
More public testing is slated to start this year. Game streaming technology like xCloud and Stadia are in their infancy right now, but it’s clear that both Microsoft and Google, are committed to pushing games further into the cloud. Speaking of, check out all the games confirmed to launch for Stadia, including Borderlands 3, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and DOOM Eternal.