Microsoft is set to launch its Xbox cloud gaming service a major streaming service priced at $1 for new users’ first month, in a major drive to attract casual gamers with the promise of cutting ties to the living room and as competition with Sony heats up.
Microsoft is revealing that the company will have more than 150 games to stream through its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service for Android tablets and phones. It also confirmed that a subscriber won’t even need to purchase a console separately for playing the games which can be enjoyed with just an Android device and a supported controller.
According to Microsoft, this service will initially be launched in 22 countries, including the United States and 19 European countries. This move by Microsoft into cloud gaming, which eliminates the requirement for massive equipment and necessary need for installation, however, it requires a fast internet connection. Recently, Google GOOGL.O has also incorporated into this field but has found it difficult to fabricate a fanbase for its Stadia administration.
“We built this experience so that it requires as little bandwidth as possible,” said Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s head of cloud gaming. “We’re also working with ISPs (internet service providers) around the world to ensure a strong connection between gamers and our Azure datacenters.”
The Xbox Game Pass administration has more than 10 million individuals.
According to Guilherme Fernandes, analyst at gaming analysis firm Newzoo, compared to a total market revenue of $600 million this year, revenues from cloud gaming revenue is expected to reach a total of $4.8 billion by 2023 all across the industry.
In addition, Subscribers to the Xbox cloud service will be able to play hit titles like “Sea of Thieves” and “Gears 5” as part of the monthly fee. However, for the incumbents looking to maintain their lead, the games library is seen as key.
The service supports cloud saves, so you can continue a game you’ve been playing on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S when you’re on the go. It also features multiplayer and cross-play with PC players, if a game supports cross-play between that platform and Xbox One.
Microsoft is also working to improve xCloud with touch controls for games. The first title to launch with touch controls will be Minecraft Dungeons, including support for controlling exactly how big controls are on-screen.
Analysts expected that with the next-generation devices to be launched this year by both Microsoft and Sony, sales of consoles is expected to be driven by anticipated demand for immersive experiences, via better sound and graphics.
Microsoft said this week the Xbox Series S will go on sale in November priced at $299.99, with the more powerful Xbox Series X priced at $499.99.
Sony 6758.T, widely seen as the victor of the last generation console battle, already offers cloud gaming via the PlayStation Now service, but this is not available on mobile devices. Sony has not yet announced pricing for its next-generation PlayStation 5 console.
The demand for gaming service and features has greatly increased due to the number of stuck-at-home users during the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft is banking on offering users many ways to play via the cloud service and consoles at different price points to give it an edge.
The main challenge facing the growth of cloud gaming is latency, or the time delay between pressing a button and getting the reaction on screen, with the deployment of 5G telecom services expected to speed up its adoption.
Microsoft’s service won’t be available on Apple devices. Epic Games is currently engaged in a legal dispute with Apple over its commission fees, in a fight scene as having implications for revenue models across the industry.
Unfortunately, xCloud won’t be available on iPhones or iPads and other Apple devices, due to Apple previously blocking services like xCloud. Apple extended an olive branch to Microsoft last week, permitting game streaming services like xCloud or Stadia to exist on iOS or iPadOS with a big catch. According to The Verge, Apple wants companies like Microsoft to individually submit their games as separate apps using its streaming tech.
Microsoft wasn’t happy with this requirement, but it’s not clear if the company may eventually package up some games and stream them on iPhone or iPad devices. Microsoft called Apple’s move “a bad experience for customers,” noting that streaming movie or song apps don’t have to package individual content into separate apps.
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