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xCloud

Do you know Microsoft is planning to launch xCloud in 2020? If not, you should read this post, in which MiniTool shows you what kind of product Microsoft will release and what challenges it should overcome.

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Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, hints in an interview with The Verge that the xCloud game streaming service will be generally available in 2020. While Microsoft is committing to some type of launch next year, it’s not ready to talk about price or exact launch dates yet.

In addition, Microsoft is planning to expand the xCloud game streaming service to Windows 10 PCs next year, too. It is planning to integrate Project xCloud with Xbox Game Pass next year, allowing players to stream games from the company’s subscription service direct from the cloud. It sounds like PC games could be streamed in xCloud in the future.

Project xCloud

Microsoft is only saying “next year” for Windows 10 support, but it’s more likely we’ll see it appear in the next few months than toward the end of 2020. Then, there are three issues to solve.

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1. Keyboard and mouse support for Xbox games

At present, not many Xbox games support keyboard and mouse and there’s a challenge getting developers involved. Then, how Microsoft will handle keyboard and mouse support for Xbox games when they’re streamed via xCloud to a PC.

Choudhry, the head of cloud gaming at Microsoft, says that this is absolutely true for Xbox game content right now, but there will be more types of content. That sounds like Microsoft is planning to stream PC games through xCloud in the future, but Choudhry is only hinting at this future and Microsoft isn’t committing to exactly where xCloud will go here.

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2. Device support

Although the xCloud will be expanded on devices beyond Android, iPad and iPhone support is still absent from the list. However, that looks like it’s about to change.

Catherine Gluckstein, general manager of xCloud, in an interview with The Verge, explains "We have a prototype app up and running, it’s playing well; we would love for it to launch on iOS, and in due course it will. We’re working with Apple.”

Microsoft has showed off some iPhone devices quipped with the prototype iOS app at the company’s X019 event in London, but it doesn't let anyone try it out.

In general, whatever is holding back immediate iOS support on xCloud is probably related to Apple’s App Store policies. For example, Apple rejected Valve’s own game streaming app over “business conflicts”. Although it revised its App Store rules later and allowed the rejected app to launch on iOS earlier this year, this app lost the ability to purchase games from the Steam store.

Due to its alleged monopolistic practices with the App Store, Apple is facing more and more questions, and even the EU is investigating a complaint from Spotify over similar concerns.

Apart from the iOS support, Microsoft is also providing controller support beyond the Xbox One wireless controller for xCloud, including support for Sony’s DualShock 4 controllers in xCloud, and other Bluetooth controllers and game pads from Razer.

That will definitely be welcome news to gamers who are used to PS4 controllers, but want to play Halo, Forza, or other Xbox games through xCloud.

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3. Ensure This Service Is Available Worldwide

This is a key part of Microsoft’s xCloud testing. Microsoft is expanding its xCloud preview to Canada, India, Japan, and Western Europe next year. Among these additional countries, expanding to India is significant.

Spencer explains "It’s a huge market, they know the franchises... they just don’t have access to the franchises that they see on the internet on the devices that they own. They’re going to enter the Xbox ecosystem through a different device, that’s not a console and not a PC.”

xCloud could be a big opportunity for Microsoft in India, especially as the Xbox One console has not fared well in a country where PlayStation sales have dominated.

While Microsoft is expanding to other countries during the xCloud preview, it’s not a guarantee that all of these markets will launch xCloud, as Gluckstein says "not all countries where we’re previewing will definitely launch”.

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