Game streaming according to Microsoft

Play Xbox titles without a console, on a smartphone or TV? This is possible with Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, which offers a streaming gaming formula. A system that will revolutionize the world of video games.

In recent years, Microsoft has gradually implemented a completely new strategy in the video game market. While Sony faces a merciless war in the field of new generation consoles – the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, which are regularly out of stock – the American giant is trying to attract new players to its online services in order to offer a completely different one Type of gaming: streaming games. A technological revolution that changes everything.

The streaming game takes several principles from video or music-on-demand services – like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Deezer, Spotify, etc. First, you don’t pay to own a physical copy of a work like you would with a DVD or CD, but for accessing a catalog with a very large number of films, series or music for a monthly fee. The same goes for streaming games: for a monthly subscription, you have access to a catalog of video games. Then, once you have an account, as with VOD services, you can enjoy it on different devices: game console, computer, but also smartphone, tablet or TV! You can start a game on a fixed device at home and continue on a mobile phone, on the train or on the bus. Magical!

This second advantage is closely related to the technical aspect of streaming. The device that supports the game – computer, console, television, mobile phone … – calculates almost nothing: it is practically only used to display the images of the game, which are calculated remotely by specialized servers and sent in real time. For the sake of simplicity, the device serves only as a screen and as a control device. All of the heavy processing that requires powerful processors, especially for graphics, is done remotely on the servers.

To enjoy the game via streaming or cloud gaming, all you need is a fast internet connection and a screen with controls: a computer, box, connected TV, smartphone or tablet. But even if the server does everything, you must limit the latency between the server and the player as much as possible, since games are interactive by nature, unlike movies or music: they therefore require exemplary responsiveness, since this is not possible is preload data, especially for online multiplayer games.

Streamable games on smartphones and tablets ©Microsoft

Following the principle of game streaming, Microsoft has developed its Xbox Cloud Gaming, a service that allows games to be played on all platforms. To take advantage, you must subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, a service launched in 2017 that gives access to a catalog of games for a monthly payment. A particularly interesting offer if you know the prices of boxing games, especially since the Xbox catalog offers hundreds of titles, including blockbusters. But like Netflix, games are regularly added and removed from the catalog, with some games becoming inaccessible. This is the main disadvantage of this system, which is similar to rental. It is then necessary to buy them “in hard” to be able to continue playing there. And of course, as soon as you log out, you will no longer have access to any game, as is the case with films and series on SVOD platforms!

Microsoft currently offers three Xbox Game Pass plans.

  • Xbox Game Pass for console : It offers access to a well-stocked catalog of games on the console (both on Xbox One and on Xbox Series S or Series X), as well as discounts and access to Xbox Game Studios games on the day they are released, all for a price of 9.99 € per month.
  • Xbox Game Pass for PC : It’s exactly the same offer but for PC gaming, again for €9.99 per month.
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate : It offers special benefits and access to the entire catalog on all platforms, including a hundred games that can be streamed from the cloud on all platforms – the famous Cloud Gaming – for €12.99 per month.

What to expect from Microsoft in terms of game streaming? Currently, Xbox Cloud Gaming is limited to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate game catalog and access to Fortnite without a subscription. Nevertheless, as announced at the What’s Next for Gaming Event 2022, Microsoft wants to further expand its cloud gaming. However, please note that not all games from the Xbox Store are available to be played in Cloud Gaming. Currently there is only a “selection” of games compatible with streaming games.

The Xbox Cloud Gaming interface on the TV ©Microsoft

The American giant seems to continue down this path, since it has just presented the Xbox Keystone, a small console designed exclusively for Xbox cloud gaming. In addition, Microsoft has announced through its official website that from the end of June the latest models of Connected TVs sold by Samsung, as well as the Korean brand’s Neo-QLED models released in 2022, will integrate an Xbox application. Other brands are expected to receive the app in the coming weeks and months.

The competition is more advanced in these broadcasting issues. The cloud gaming offers from Google Stadia and Amazon Luna can be accessed via the respective boxes. But Microsoft has the advantage in its catalog of games, which is much richer. Sony only offers access to a limited selection of console or PC games with its PlayStation Plus offering, rather than on smartphones like Microsoft. Also note that the Xbox Cloud Gaming service, which is still in full development, is available in 28 countries including France.

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