Development is officially under way for Microsoft's answer to Sony's PlayStation Now, a Netflix-like subscription-based streaming service for video games.
The company has teased about cloud-based game streaming in the past but has now made it official during E3. Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer says the company is working hard to make a game streaming service that'll basically run on any device.
Microsoft Is Building Its Own Game Streaming Network
"Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device," he said, adding that the service will work across Xbox consoles, PCs, and even mobile phones.
He didn't confirm when this notional service will see the light of day, but in 2017, he said Xbox game streaming will arrive within three years. Do the math.
Many companies have tried to create their own game streaming network, with varying degrees of success: Sony, for instance, boasts the aforementioned PlayStation Now, which costs $20 a month and allows players to stream older PlayStation titles from the cloud. The service isn't perfect, however — for one, a number of gamers to this day complain about latency issues, and the games library sure could be better.
Nvidia is also trying to stream games to PCs. Nintendo too announced that its Switch Online subscription service will offer streamable NES games. A Japan-only Resident Evil port for the console is only playable via streaming.
The Problem With Game Streaming
Electronic Arts has also unveiled such a network. Though still in development, EA's streaming service will allow anyone with a phone, smart TV, or low-end laptop to play high-quality games directly from the cloud.
All these services, however, most likely will encounter issues that significantly hold them back from being widely used, which raises the question: are players ready for cloud-based game streaming? Better yet, have companies such as Microsoft developed solutions that'll address issues plaguing streaming-based gaming? For now, those questions are difficult to answer.
"Gaming is now at its most vibrant," said Spencer. "In this significant moment we are constantly challenging ourselves about where we can take gaming next."
New Xbox Consoles
Apart from game streaming, Spencer also confirmed that Microsoft is currently developing new consoles, with engineers "deep into architecturing the next Xbox consoles." It's not exactly clear if it's developing one or more systems, but one of them is likely a follow-up to the Xbox One X, which was released in 2017.
What's more, the company is also working on implementing artificial intelligence into gaming to make worlds and characters in games "more richer and more immersive," according to Spencer.