Microsoft’s cloud gaming service Project xCloud has been in the works for years, but it’s finally get a launch later this year – though it’ll still technically be in beta even then.
The service is already available in test out now, but Microsoft has confirmed that it will be bundled in with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate from September – but only on Android.
What is Project xCloud?
Project xCloud is Microsoft’s entry into the burgeoning cloud gaming scene, offering players the chance to stream their favourite Xbox titles to any internet connect device with a screen. It will follow the lead of Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, and the rumoured cloud gaming service from Amazon.
You won’t need to download the games that you play in Project xCloud. Instead, they’ll be streamed from Microsoft’s servers which are currently using Xbox One S hardware, though supposedly there’s a trial of dedicated PC servers for streaming PC games. Currently, these are being used to stream Xbox games to Windows 10 PCs, but it’s likely Xbox Game Pass will become available to PC users so they can play PC games.
It’s also been reported that Microsoft plans to use Xbox Series X hardware in its servers in 2021. Each processor can handle four Xbox One S game sessions and it can encode video up to six times faster than current xCloud servers.
Microsoft wants to optimise the game streaming experience by offering multiple control options. The best way to play Project xCloud games is, of course, to use the official Xbox One Wireless Controller, but you’ll also be able to interact with games via touchscreen controls and other third-party controllers – even the PlayStation DualShock 4.
It isn’t clear what sort of resolution and frame rate will be available on Project xCloud, but with Microsoft CVP of Gaming Cloud Kareem Choudhry stating that the company still values the console experience as it allows for 4K gaming, it’s possible that it won’t meet the promised [email protected] gameplay on offer from Google Stadia.
When will Project xCloud be released?
Project xCloud will debut to the public on 15 September as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription – though it will be exclusive to Android at launch.
The service will launch in 22 countries, including the US and UK, and will have over 100 games available initially, including Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and the Halo Master Chief Collection.
If you still don’t want to wait, you can learn about the best game streaming services which you can sign up to and start playing today.
If you want to, you can apply to join the Project xCloud Preview now and get a taste of Microsoft’s game streaming service before it’s launched worldwide. There are limited places, so it’s not guaranteed you will be able to take part, and the service is already due to shut down on 11 September ahead of the official launch.
There are a few catches, with the biggest being that it’s only available to residents in the UK, US and South Korea right now. You’re also limited to 62 games (which we list below) instead of the huge catalogue of Xbox One and PC titles expected to be available once the service officially launches. Oh, and it’s only on Android, and you need a compatible Xbox One controller with Bluetooth.
Microsoft opened the preview to 10,000 iOS users in early 2020, but the slots were taken almost immediately. The iOS preview is slightly more limited, only providing access to a single game – Halo: The Master Chief Collection. With the full launch limited to Android for the time being, this remains the only way to play xCloud on iOS for now.
How much will Project xCloud cost?
From a certain perspective xCloud is free – but only because Microsoft has bundled it into its existing Game Pass Ultimate subscription. That costs £10.99/$14.99 per month, but also gives you access to an even larger library of games on PC and Xbox, along with an Xbox Live Gold subscription which offers online multiplayer, free games, and various deals and discounts.
What we don’t know is whether Microsoft will also offer xCloud alone as a standalone service for less than that – perhaps costing a similar amount to PlayStation Now, Sony’s rival cloud-based game streaming service, which costs £8.99/$9.99 a month.
What games can I play on Project xCloud?
While the full 100-game launch list is yet to be confirmed, we do know 36 titles that will be playable from day one:
Ark: Survival Evolved
Costume Quest 2
Crackdown 3 (campaign)
Forza Horizon 4
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Gears of War 4
Gears 5 Ultimate Edition
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars: Definitive Edition
Halo Wars 2
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: Spartan Assault
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Killer Instinct Definitive Edition
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
The Outer Worlds
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
ReCore: Definitive Edition
Ryse: Son of Rome
Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
Super Lucky’s Tale
Tell Me Why
The Bard’s Tale Trilogy
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
Yakuza Kiwami 2