With Google Stadia re-introducing the idea of cloud streaming to the gaming public, Microsoft and Sony have been flexing the muscles of their xCloud and PSNow services respectively. Google has been doing some interesting things with scaling compute models for their instances, but they face some major challenges as well.
Microsoft announced today that 1,900 games are currently in development for the xCloud service with 3,500 games already ready to be streamed. Phil Spencer has even mentioned that he is partaking in a very early Alpha version of xCloud enabling him to play Xbox games on the go from mobile, laptop, or other platforms. Preparation for the eventual roll-out of xCloud is well underway with servers already in Azure data-centers in 13 regions.
One of the areas in which the Xbox’s xCloud service can capitalize on its advantages over Stadia is the existing market share. By making it so that devs only have to make a game once for PC, Xbox One, xCloud, and next-gen Xbox platforms with no need for special versions on each – they’re already ahead of Google. Since the Stadia does not use the x86___64 architecture, specific versions of potential titles will need to be made to support its Linux-based kernel. On xCloud, game devs can even push a single version of their update with it automatically migrating to every version of the game.
The war for streaming games is on. Microsoft and Sony now have an unlikely alliance as PlayStation Now remains a popular but challenging service for Sony. Rather than trying to climb an uphill battle any further, Sony decided to use Microsoft Azure servers for their PlayStation Now while also giving Microsoft help with image analyzing artificial intelligence coding techniques and best practices. The contract between the two parties does allow for their partnership to end at any time for any reason without penalty, but let’s hope this is the beginning of a grand collaboration.
Who will become the ‘Netflix of gaming’? Google Stadia? Microsoft xCloud? PlayStation Now? Or perhaps there will be room in the industry for all of them to carve out their own unique space.