Xbox is launching a public preview of Project xCloud this October, and is extending the preview program to include the US, UK, and Korea.
While not a full launch of the program, the version of Project xCloud opening up next month still offers access to a limited number of games and will roll out to participants in phases. It provides a way for devs to see how the streaming tech stacks up against other similar services, all while Microsoft gathers feedback to improve the project ahead of its eventual launch.
There’s no set end date for the preview run. Instead, Microsoft says it will continue to iterate based on feedback until “customers are consistently reporting a great, fun experience” and the technology reaches Microsoft’s own internal quality standards.
“Public preview is a critical phase in our multi-year ambition to deliver game streaming globally at the scale and quality of experience that the gaming community deserves and expects,” writes xCloud corporate vice president Kareem Choudhry. “It’s time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real-world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in. At Xbox, we’ve made it a priority to engage with all of you to help in the creation process. We now want you to play with us and share your feedback on Project xCloud so we can iterate and improve, week after week."
Halo 5: Guardians, Gears 5, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves are slated to be used for the preview, an initial batch that includes varying scale and online features capable of testing how the streaming tech performs in different situations. That library of titles for testing is expected to expand later on, though Xbox won’t offer specifics on what will be included in said future updates. Killer Instinct will be a particularly interesting experiment, given that it is both a fighting game that demands precise inputs, and the rare breed of fighting game that is designed around rollback netcode for the best online experience possible.
Details on how to sign up for the public xCloud preview can be found on the official website here, though Xbox notes there are a few requirements to keep in mind ahead of jumping in. The preview will require a phone or tablet running Android 6.0 (or with Bluetooth 4.0 or better), a Microsoft, Bluteooth-enabled Xbox One controller, and for players to download the Microsoft Game Streaming App once accepted. In Korea, participation is limited to SK Telecom customers initially, but will eventually expand beyond just that mobile carrier.
There’s no telling how this will turn out, or even if we as a society are even ready for game streaming platforms (I don’t think so), but the competition in the field can only lead to better products. Besides, having any public testing is better than the raw launch Google Stadia is getting.