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Microsoft’s xCloud Game Streaming Service

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1 minute ago, Uncle Mike said:

I don't really understand this focus on streaming games from everyone. Everyone thought home consoles were dead at the start of this gen, so I'd sort of understand why they'd investigate it, but then both PS4 and Xbox have sold shit tons. Are there realistically people who want to pay £x a month to stream games, but don't want to have a console and have great internet? It seems an odd sector to go for.

 

I sort of get why a Google might look at it, but not that actual console firms. Just make a decent console and market it well.

 

I would guess it might be better from a financial perspective if you have 70m people paying you a fee every month that you can jack up every so often, rather than run the risk of getting 70m people to pay you £250 when you release a console, and hoping they buy the next one in seven or eight years. Small, steady income is probably preferable to a big payment once or twice a decade, especially if some people are too lazy to cancel. 

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I totally understand it. Buy any modern TV and it has apps for everything you previously required a console or set top box for, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon etc. why should games be any different?

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3 minutes ago, Stanley said:

I totally understand it. Buy any modern TV and it has apps for everything you previously required a console or set top box for, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon etc. why should games be any different?

 

Because they are different.  This is cloud processing rather than cloud data.  There will be lag.  It will be shit.

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5 minutes ago, JPickford said:

 

Because they are different.  This is cloud processing rather than cloud data.  There will be lag.  It will be shit.

I'm not advocating it I'm just reasoning it from a business standpoint.

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9 minutes ago, K said:

I would guess it might be better from a financial perspective if you have 70m people paying you a fee every month that you can jack up every so often, rather than run the risk of getting 70m people to pay you £250 when you release a console, and hoping they buy the next one in seven or eight years. Small, steady income is probably preferable to a big payment once or twice a decade, especially if some people are too lazy to cancel. 

 

Yeah, the risk moving from one generation to the next is pretty huge. Microsoft really shat the bed this generation, for instance, although they've made up a lot of ground. But they were on an even keel with Sony in Europe last time out, now it's not even close. They'd probably love to not have to invest billions of dollars up front every seven years or so, based purely on their educated guess of what consumers will actually want.

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5 hours ago, Liamness said:

Microsoft really shat the bed this generation, for instance, although they've made up a lot of ground.

 

Everyone says that (and it's obviously true to an extent) but they've still objectively sold a shit ton of Xbox Ones, haven't they? Like they're not winning, but there's a lot of units sold, last I knew.

 

I obviously get the attraction of a subscription model over a one-off, but the mobile phone feels like the one I'd copy over a Netflix. Pay for decent hardware and a games sub over relying on what my TV can do. Then you control the roadmap too.

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It could be a case of Sony making them look bad more than them actually being bad. But compared to the 360's performance (which handily outsold the PS3 in the USA, was at the races in Europe, and actually existed in Japan) it's really bad. They completely failed to carry over brand goodwill and customer loyalty from one generation to the next and build on it. They have done well to course correct, but I just thought it was a good example of the risks console manufacturers face when moving from one generation to the next, with the possibility of completely losing any momentum they might have built up. Could've used the transitition from PS2 -> PS3 as an example too, with its high initial pricetag and multiplatform games running noticeably better on the 360, but hey, this is a thread about things Microsoft are doing.

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7 hours ago, Stanley said:

I totally understand it. Buy any modern TV and it has apps for everything you previously required a console or set top box for, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon etc. why should games be any different?

Yeah. Have the console market and the streaming market, it's not like there's not enough devices floating around. We all have an army of them. If it's good enough, someone will buy it.

 

The question should be, why leave that to people like Google? 

 

I agree with the game pass sentiment though, I wish I had enough time to make it worth it. 

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11 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

 

Everyone says that (and it's obviously true to an extent) but they've still objectively sold a shit ton of Xbox Ones, haven't they? Like they're not winning, but there's a lot of units sold, last I knew.

 

I obviously get the attraction of a subscription model over a one-off, but the mobile phone feels like the one I'd copy over a Netflix. Pay for decent hardware and a games sub over relying on what my TV can do. Then you control the roadmap too.

 

Thing is so far they’re going to do all three.  

 

Want it to buy the console outright and download the games you buy to console.  You can do that. 

 

Want it to buy a console outright and then subscribe to game pass to download all those games to console?  You can do that.

 

Want to pay a monthly fee for a console and game pass? You’ll be able to do that soon.  

 

Want to stream lots of games to your device that you already own and pay a substitution fee?  You’ll be able to do that too soon. 

 

 

None of the options above stop any of the others happening. Different options for different peoples gaming appetite and lag tolerance. 

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16 hours ago, JPickford said:

Right. Soz.   I think an Netlix style service makes a lot of sense so long as the games are downloaded and run locally.  

 

But then you're only selling to people with the hardware powerful enough to run them locally, is it really such great value if it's $400 on a new console and then $120 a year on a GameFlix subscription? With streaming, you can use anything that has a screen, Bring Your Own Device.

 

Quote

Are there realistically people who want to pay £x a month to stream games, but don't want to have a console and have great internet? It seems an odd sector to go for.

 

Phones, young people, the entire developing world...

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11 hours ago, Liamness said:

It could be a case of Sony making them look bad more than them actually being bad. But compared to the 360's performance (which handily outsold the PS3 in the USA, was at the races in Europe, and actually existed in Japan) it's really bad. They completely failed to carry over brand goodwill and customer loyalty from one generation to the next and build on it. They have done well to course correct, but I just thought it was a good example of the risks console manufacturers face when moving from one generation to the next, with the possibility of completely losing any momentum they might have built up.

I feel like it'll be different this time, with Playstation and Xbox becoming more like continuous platforms rather than the proprietary machines they used to be, incompatible with even their own predecessors. The only continuity last time round your friends list. This time it'll be your games library, digital purchases plus online services you're subscribed to. You might even be able to get a performance boost on your existing games.

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17 hours ago, K said:

In terms of tackling lag by reducing the distance between the server and the user, I would have thought Microsoft could make huge gains by having some kind of micro-server situated very close to or even within the user's house, perhaps in some kind of purpose-built alcove or shelf underneath their TV.

 

Hmm... And with modern, cheap processors and graphics chips, they could probably put a box together for a couple of hundred quid that could run the game for the user, on demand.  If they're smart, they could even convince the end user to pay for their own local box.  A kind of 'X' box or something.

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17 hours ago, K said:

In terms of tackling lag by reducing the distance between the server and the user, I would have thought Microsoft could make huge gains by having some kind of micro-server situated very close to or even within the user's house, perhaps in some kind of purpose-built alcove or shelf underneath their TV.

 

Hmm... And with modern, cheap processors and graphics chips, they could probably put a box together for a couple of hundred quid that could run the game for the user, on demand.  If they're smart, they could even convince the end user to pay for their own local box.  A kind of 'X' box or something.

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49 minutes ago, Ste Pickford said:

 

Hmm... And with modern, cheap processors and graphics chips, they could probably put a box together for a couple of hundred quid that could run the game for the user, on demand.  If they're smart, they could even convince the end user to pay for their own local box.  A kind of 'X' box or something.

 

You could even play when your internet is down. This could revolutionise gaming.

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On 09/10/2018 at 16:35, Liamness said:

Where are Valve in all this? I can't help but think that their attempts to reduce their reliance on Windows and Microsoft is laying the groundwork for a move into this area. Being able to launch games streamed from the cloud within the Steam client would be fantastic, and it seems to me that they already have a lot of the parts in place. They need to get a move on though, other companies are already offering similar services and they could get left behind.

 

Google are sort of stepping in to do what Valve first started to do, Project Stream apparently runs on Linux using Vulcan and in the words of Richard Leadbetter is designed for the upcoming generation. So a Valve x Google collab would solve both their problems. Once the technology is sorted, then you have the same problem as the media streaming services, it becomes all about the content you can get exclusively.

 

 

 

23 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

I don't really understand this focus on streaming games from everyone. Everyone thought home consoles were dead at the start of this gen, so I'd sort of understand why they'd investigate it, but then both PS4 and Xbox have sold shit tons. Are there realistically people who want to pay £x a month to stream games, but don't want to have a console and have great internet? It seems an odd sector to go for.

 

I sort of get why a Google might look at it, but not that actual console firms. Just make a decent console and market it well.

 

Just watch the short Microsoft announcement video, they outline the reasons for it, the same reasons they've been giving in trade interviews in the past. It's about reaching the parts that the other existing methods can't reach, and those parts are potentially massive in scale, eclipsing their current market reach by a literal order of magnitude.

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Google actually coming through on an experiment is pretty much a unicorn in itself these days. They're even quietly sawing at the legs of Android hoping to swap it with ChromeOS. Project Stream is a nice, but unless it gains instant traction, Google will probably abandon it in a year. And even if it does, it'll still be a toss-up of what they'll do with it.

 

This is the company that exchanged a perfectly good working Google Talk for 5 other chat apps and now sulks about losing out to WhatsApp.

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1 minute ago, mushashi said:

 It's about reaching the parts that the other existing methods can't reach, and those parts are potentially massive in scale, eclipsing their current market reach by a literal order of magnitude.

None of which is proven or certain. You can already play console games or console quality games on console or PC, chances are that people who haven't yet bothered aren't that interested. Are they suddenly going to invest in an Xbox pad and sink their time into the likes of Forza, Halo, Fallout, Red Dead etc. ? Same with Game Pass. In theory it's excellent value for money but unlike Netflix in which you could quite easily burn through a couple of box sets and a handful of movies per month therefore getting your money's worth, casual gamers (the likes of which they're trying to reach) might find it all a bit overwhelming and only manage a bit here and there. 

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That's the Google way though, they like to try stuff in a half arsed manner and not stick at it, but they could partner with Valve in this case as they have a common interest and aren't really stepping on each other's turf to any great amount, as streaming is complementary to Valve's current businesses.

 

 

2 minutes ago, Stanley said:

None of which is proven or certain.

 

Hey that is what they keep on saying, 2 Billion gamers and Microsoft want to be able to sell to them all by 2020.

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Some tracking firm's guestimate I assume, but they first used it in an article with GamesIndustry.biz way before the E3 announcement of game streaming and now have repeated it at the start of this public-facing announcement. This move makes perfect sense when seen in that context, they'll never reach everybody without doing it otherwise.

 

Quote

 

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be two billion people playing video games.

 

And Microsoft wants to reach all of them.

 

That doesn't mean the firm expects to sell two billion Xbox One consoles over the next two years. It's just Microsoft's parameters of what defines an 'Xbox customer' is changing.

 

There are up to 144 million Minecraft owners in the world. Each one of them is an 'Xbox customer'. Even the ones who own it on PlayStation 4.

 

Anyone who plans to pick up Sea of Thieves on Windows 10 is an Xbox customer.

 

Those who watch PlayerUnknown Battleground streams on Mixer... also an Xbox customer. Of sorts.

 

And then there's Idle Miner Tycoon. A simulation game for iOS and Android that's developed by Fluffy Fairy. It's a game that uses Microsoft's PlayFab platform and Azure cloud technology. Although in this case the 'Xbox customer' is the developer rather than the gamer, it still means Microsoft is silently playing a part in the experience of those gamers.

 

 

 

Quote

 

"When Phil was promoted to executive vice president, reporting to Satya [Nadella, Microsoft CEO], he was asked about how to grow gaming all across Microsoft," says Kevin Gammill, GM of gaming cloud at Microsoft.

 

"I will use Minecraft as an example. We have right now sold 144 million copies across PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and mobile devices. When looking to where we're going, it's really about how we grow our business above and beyond console.

 

"We are not leaving the console business behind by any means. We are continuing to invest there. The premium living room experience today is on Xbox One X, and we hope to continue that for years to come. But when you think about how we are going to broaden our business, we need to think beyond console to be successful."


 

 

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-03-15-microsoft-were-growing-our-gaming-business-beyond-the-console

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I admire their ambition but imo the reality is that they will reach a lot less people than they imagine, and that the same people who play games on a regular basis already are the ones most likely to use these features. So that's Xbox and PS4 owners, Switch and PC gamers. I would put that figure way below 2 billion, it's a couple hundred million at best and whilst the industry mainly still caters to the same male 15-40 year old audience it always has it's unlikely to grow either. Minecraft is its own platform, its own phenomenon. You can't just take those figures and apply it to all videogames, and Minecraft is already on phones, tablets etc. with specially adapted versions, so no need for additional pads either.

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I do like the idea of your phone automatically being a really powerful handheld, with a huge library of games. I also like the idea of that Nintendo Switch, rooftop party lifestyle and easily being able to arrange an impromptu round of multiplayer gaming because everyone with you has their phones too. But the realities of making this work and be good seem, like, governed by physics in a way that would make it hard to pull off.

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The big problem with phones is the size of the screen, even Switch which has the biggest screen of any handheld to date can suffer at times with things like text size, or the experience as a whole is diminished slightly when playing games with big expansive environments. I mean imagine playing Cyberpunk on a phone, what's the point?

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Agreed, the only time I'd likely use such a feature is if I didn't have access to a TV or other more suitable screen, a laptop or whatever. So literally when I'm out and about and could never guarantee a stable enough connection for this kind of thing, apart from anything else imagine the data usage.

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6 minutes ago, JPickford said:

Also phones are catching up fast.   The gulf in capability between mobile devices and consoles isn't enough to justify the downsides of streaming.  

 

The one area where phones aren't catching up though is in storage, you ain't stuffing 1 Terabyte of solid state storage into a phone anytime soon, and as games begin to consume over 100 Gigabytes each and have the usable battery life of a mayfly, even if you could run the game natively, it wouldn't be that practical either.

 

 

4 minutes ago, Stanley said:

Agreed, the only time I'd likely use such a feature is if I didn't have access to a TV or other more suitable screen, a laptop or whatever. So literally when I'm out and about and could never guarantee a stable enough connection for this kind of thing, apart from anything else imagine the data usage.

 

This isn't for you though, you might also use it, but the bulk of the target audience doesn't care about the lag or non-native resolution visuals or the fact they might even have to use touchscreen controls *ewww* to play fullfat console games.

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I just don't believe that that audience exists - the kind of person who previously had little intetest in console games but is willing to spend £50 on an Xbox pad and £7.99 per month on Game Pass. Like I said the audience most likely to use this the most is the same one that plays games already. So for those people it's great but I don't see it attracting an expanded audience like the Wii or DS did, or smartphones themselves. 

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I expect phones will be effectively a catch all device for people. In a similar way to the switch you could have a dock and full size controller for a traditional home console experience which you could also use as a general comms and productivity tool. (Keyboard, mouse  and maybe additional storage connecting to the dock). Pull it off the dock and off you with all your data in the cloud. Sure you'll have compromises playing on the move but it will only be like everything else you do on the move with your phone now.

 

 

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