Imagine the year is 2013. Microsoft has been hyping up the release of the Xbox One, and then the other shoe drops. They tell gamers they will need to be online all the time to fully utilize the console. The reason? Cloud technology.
Needless to say, it didn’t go over well. Today’s Xbox One and the X are only involved with cloud servers if it pertains to storing saved data. Could all of that change with Xbox 2? Will Microsoft try to leverage cloud technology once more in the next generation? Read on to find out!
FFXV Director Reignites The Cloud Debate
While many people are looking to virtual reality or photorealistic graphics for the next generation, at least one major industry player is placing his bets on cloud gaming and streaming.
In an interview with Xbox Magazine, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata said that he believed the game industry would follow both music and movies and offer streaming services. The games would be stored and streamed from cloud servers directly to your living room.
It’s really hard to sell this concept, as games would need a much stronger internet connection to stream. With music and movies, the data bandwidth is smaller. If you want to stream games, you’re going to need high speeds and very little latency.
This is especially true if you expect to stream multiplayer games. Imagine the kind of uproar that would happen is competitive gamers were given advantages based on their internet speeds? Depending on the stability of the connection, controls would lag and the game’s performance would suffer.
Combine this with the fact that, unless you live in South Korea, the internet is still not widely available, and it’s hard to pitch a console that relies solely on streaming to play its games. Of course, this is 2018, and things could easily change in the next few years.
In fact, Microsoft is hoping it will.
Microsoft Predicts Game Streaming in The Next Three Years
With the launch of Xbox One X in November of 2017, Microsoft is starting to shift focus towards games and services. Xbox boss Phil Spencer spoke with Bloomberg to explain this new focus. The past few years have seen multiple studios closing and several games cancelled for the Xbox One.
Phil Spencer Wiki Media Commons
Phil Spencer is hoping to change that in 2018.
"Now, players are playing the games across every device and we’re connecting those players across all of those devices. Obviously for us, the console is an important part there, but connecting to gamers wherever they are is the vision of Microsoft around what we’re doing in gaming."
Microsoft’s current CEO, Satya Nadella, wants to steer the company towards software and services powered by cloud technology. He wants software to follow people wherever they go, regardless of which device they’re using.
During the interview, Phil Spencer predicted that Microsoft will debut a streaming service that doesn’t require a console for some type of content within the next three years. He didn’t go into specifics, but it could very well be a gaming-focused streaming service.
With subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and the Play Anywhere program which allows you to play games you buy on both the Xbox One and PC, Microsoft is already laying the groundwork for a streaming service.
Predicting a Cloud-Based Future
If we set aside the obstacles that stand between us a cloud-based gaming, what kind of future does that create for gaming? Well, for starters, you wouldn’t need to necessarily purchase a console. Anything that can receive and stream data would work.
You would most likely pay a monthly fee to use the service, and you would browse games much like you browse movies on Netflix. Make your selection, and away you go. It sounds amazing, right?
Well, it would be if the technology could support the same kind of experiences we have with video, but games are more complicated. While the promise of instant access to a huge library of games is quite exciting, current limitations have kept the idea from catching on.
Then there’s the old debate between physical and digital media that we have to consider. Streaming is nice, but you don’t own anything on the platform. Netflix could have your favorite show one month and take it away the next, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Meanwhile, if you have a physical copy of a game, you can play it whenever you want. Even digital downloads thus far have never tried to take away ownership of a title you purchased. Everything’s up in the air when it comes to cloud gaming.
It’s a big trade-off. You get more convenience and more choices, but you’re required to have a strong connection for it to work. Furthermore, you have access to tons of games, but no guarantee they’ll always be there.
It’s for reasons like this that I can’t commit to a fully cloud-based console, but Microsoft seems to be keen on offering an option like that in the near future.
What do you think? Do you want a cloud-based console that streams all of your games? Let us know in the comments!