Back at E3 2018, Microsoft's Phil Spencer came on stage and announced that Microsoft was looking at ways to allow gamers to, in the future, stream games on any device without needing to own powerful gaming hardware. Many of us expected this tease to be for a project a long way away, but an announcement today makes it seem like it might actually be fairly close.
According to a press release from Microsoft sent out today, in 2019 the company plans to start testing Project xCloud, a streaming service where PC and console games, run on Microsoft hardware, can be streamed for play on a wide range of internet-enabled devices. An example given was Xbox games running on a tablet or smartphone, where players would have the choice to either connect an Xbox One controller to the device via Bluetooth, or use touch screen controls, in order to play through their games.
Microsoft's press release states this will require little to no extra work for developers, and that its prioritising low latency, maintaining the visual experience of the original games, and making the touch screen UI viable for multiple game types.
While there's no specifics on devices this will be trialled with, or games available, or who will be able to take part in the first tests, it does seem like Microsoft will be making a serious push towards making its games available to players on non-gaming focused, less powerful devices from next year. If it can pull it off, it'll certainly be an interesting move. We've seen Switch in Japan running more powerful games via streaming, and we've seen Assassin's Creed Odyssey announced for streaming via Chrome, so it really does seem like the streaming future is on the way.
Microsoft apparently want this to be the first step towards a future where every game is available to players regardless of hardware owned, and that sure is an optimistic world to imagine.