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Microsoft’s xCloud Game Streaming Service

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Well I suppose that is where your opinion and Microsoft's differ, they reckon that all 2 Billion gamers do actually want to play fullfat console games, but aren't willing to invest in a console or expensive PC to do so.

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Good point on phone hardware catching up, at least in terms of visuals which look good on tiny screens (so you're less worried about AA, etc.). Maybe Microsoft should bring their game SDKs to iOS and Android, go all in on the services thing without the streaming tech. 

 

As I mentioned (somewhere) I've been streaming my Xbox a lot recently, and I've noticed I need to figure out QoS stuff for the traffic coming out of the xbox. It's not that my internet connection can't handle multiple HD streams, or that the 100mbit LAN isn't good enough (both are fine), it's that I think streaming video is much more forgiving in terms of latency and variable bandwidth that gaming, where what's being encoded is reliant on input, and so you can't buffer past blips in packets not getting there quickly enough.

 

(also, please let me know if you've done the QoS thing on your LAN for Xbox or PS4 streaming, I haven't looked at it yet but think I need to).

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5 minutes ago, mushashi said:

Well I suppose that is where your opinion and Microsoft's differ, they reckon that all 2 Billion gamers do actually want to play fullfat console games, but aren't willing to invest in a console or expensive PC to do so.

Heh, if MS get even a quarter of those regularly using their service by 2020 I'd be astonished.

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Surely they're not chasing 2bn users, that's not possible. Aren't they just saying that there's a market outside of the traditional sit in front of TV with console crowd (or maybe an overlap with), i.e. who would also be willing to pay for that sort of gaming streamed on the go?

 

A quarter of 2bn is a massive number of users.

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I think the key to what they're saying is also their biggest stumbling block "We're not leaving console gaming behind by any means" - the only time games reach new audiences is by doing exactly that and making games and products deliberately aimed at attracting new audiences - so Wii, DS, Smartphones etc. The is the same service as before just a different delivery method. There's no evidence that points to this huge untapped audience of players who really want to play Forza or Halo but just haven't bothered. 

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8 minutes ago, JPickford said:

I remember when they were going to conquer the living room.

I remember when they said the xbox hard drive was for game storage and wouldn't be an excuse to developers to release half finished games. :blah:

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49 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.  

 

Sure. They're also getting more and more expensive year on year, have vastly different capabilities, and issues with thermal throttling/battery life under load.

Pretty sure they'll work *better* and more consistently (certainly across non-flagship devices) if they're just decoding a video stream.

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22 minutes ago, TehStu said:

Good point on phone hardware catching up, at least in terms of visuals which look good on tiny screens (so you're less worried about AA, etc.). Maybe Microsoft should bring their game SDKs to iOS and Android, go all in on the services thing without the streaming tech. 

 

If they get the game streaming tech to a point where it's good enough that people are willing to use it then why bother bringing all that other stuff to iOS and Android? 

Based on what they said in the video then a developer could potentially just have to create an Xboxone version of a game and then Microsoft's game streaming tech will let it run across iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS while the developer only has to maintain one version of the game. No pouring resources into developing for multiple platforms or having to maintain their own account system to track purchases across platforms. 

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1 hour ago, TehStu said:

It's not that my internet connection can't handle multiple HD streams, or that the 100mbit LAN isn't good enough (both are fine), it's that I think streaming video is much more forgiving in terms of latency and variable bandwidth that gaming, where what's being encoded is reliant on input, and so you can't buffer past blips in packets not getting there quickly enough.

 

Yeah. You (as a definite qualified nerd) can see this already if you Wireshark or similar your own home network. You'll see periods where you get a nice steady sawtooth as the segments come down regularly, and then the odd period where the internet gets in the way.

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21 hours ago, TehStu said:

Surely they're not chasing 2bn users, that's not possible. Aren't they just saying that there's a market outside of the traditional sit in front of TV with console crowd (or maybe an overlap with), i.e. who would also be willing to pay for that sort of gaming streamed on the go?

 

Phil Spencer literally posits the question:

 

"What if everybody could play Halo?"

 

Did people actually bother to watch a <4 minute announcement video with the sound on, or can they just not believe Microsoft are actually saying these things and being serious about it when saying them? :blink2:

 

Of course they'll never actually get all 2 Billion potential active customers with xCloud, but it's the only method to reach all 2 Billion potential customers available. As I said earlier, Minecraft nor the Xbox or Windows Store will ever have that reach.

 

It does have an interesting side-effect in some ways to use streaming, they should be able to bypass practically all the gatekeepers* who could otherwise prevent them from reaching every possible customer.

 

*The exception being iOS exclusive users as Apple make Sony look like a progressive company by comparison, though they still reach a certain portion of those people via Minecraft or the back-end Azure services used by developers putting gaming apps on iOS.

 

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The editor of Eurogamer put up an opinion piece about Google vs Microsoft for the future of gaming, he seems to recognise the same likely battleground developing as every single other streaming war. Once the tech is good enough, content becomes king, just like on the consoles now so we can all look forward to peak gaming, the production values at least will be glorious :)

 

 

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-10-11-google-and-xbox-just-started-the-next-platform-war

 


 

Quote

 

Game streaming is coming. It's been coming since before we all laughed at OnLive and ignored PlayStation Now, and those too-little-too-soon gambits did nothing to impede its inevitable arrival. It is the future, in the sense that a credible and widely-used iteration of game streaming technology is around the corner and is something everyone reading this will probably end up using. Whether this future will prove mutually exclusive with other futures - those of games consoles and of digital platforms like Steam - is much more debatable. But it's coming regardless.


 

 

 

Quote

This is one area where the coming streaming platform war could be great for players and the games industry: I expect it will bring with it a massive wave of investment in exclusive content. Look at how Netflix and Amazon's tussle for supremacy has transformed the TV and film industries as they have flooded them with cash, looking for hits and for high-quality productions that will win Emmys and Oscars and burnish their brands, making adventurous bets and mitigating the Hollywood studios' retreat into risk-averse, rote franchise programming. (It's not all been positive; the investment in production hasn't been met with equivalent investment in marketing, leaving many of these shows and films to die on the vine. But still.) Now imagine what that might look like in games.

 

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1 hour ago, mushashi said:

Did people actually bother to watch a <4 minute announcement video with the sound on, or can they just not believe Microsoft are actually saying these things and being serious about it when saying them? :blink2:

I didn't watch the announcement, but I can spot PR speak. Just like a billion win 10 installs in X time was the goal, 2bn gamers is a goal, but even more nebulous and likely unattainable than the billion win 10 users.

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Of course it is a goal and probably as obtainable as winning the living room or making a commercially viable mobile OS, but they've publicly put that stake in the ground and have something to aim for.

 

I would have retorted Phil Spencer's question by asking how many people actually want to play Halo or Red Dead Redemption or any console games fullstop?, but hey, if that is their line of thinking, it's their line of thinking and justification for pursuing the xCloud dream.

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Being the 'backend' service for 2bn gamers would be incredibly lucrative. They want to be to gaming what AWS/Azure/GCP is to the web.

 

I think that is do-able. And a much more stable revenue stream that the boom/bust risk that is associated with hardware cycles.

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I don't know why people are sceptical this larger audience exists.

 

Something like Fortnite had 78 million players last month, League of Legends 100 million, both of these are free. You can count on one hand console games that have done that well with a box cost and requiring a box under the TV.

 

It's easy to see AAA games follow that mould with a Netflix type service, throw in some cosmetic DLC and obviously you're not going to make as much per user, but you'll pick it up with scale. They're already partway to stuff like this with Ubisofts "starter editions".

 

This negative reaction feels to me mostly about grumpy old men who don't like change.

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19 minutes ago, RubberJohnny said:

This negative reaction feels to me mostly about grumpy old men who don't like change.

 

I think the negative reaction is because this may expand the audience for games, but will probably provide a worse service. If 100m, 200m new people start playing Fortnite 2 or whatever, then bully for them, but I don't see what's in this for me.

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The difference there is that Fortnite is entirely free and online only whilst Game Pass costs £7.99 per month and supports games which aren't free and includes fully fledged one player games plus multiplayer titles which require an additional Gold subscription to play online. So I don't see how you can say it's easy to see how AAA games will follow that mould. 

 

Game Pass, onlive, remote play, PS Now - none of it is new, I don't  understand how MS will suddenly and massively grow the market by offering a paid streaming service.

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78 million Fortnite players is a big number for sure. But I can already play Fortnite on pretty much any device I want today. Android, iPhone, console, PC. Not an actual Smart TV, but everything else. How much more untapped market is there? And why is streaming the right solution?

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On 12/10/2018 at 15:59, hub2 said:

Being the 'backend' service for 2bn gamers would be incredibly lucrative. They want to be to gaming what AWS/Azure/GCP is to the web.

 

I think that is do-able. And a much more stable revenue stream that the boom/bust risk that is associated with hardware cycles.

 

Exactly, Microsoft want a piece of every transaction basically. The reason they got into console gaming in the first place was because the Dreamcast failed and Sony weren't interested in partnering with them (Nintendo also turned them down).

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22 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

78 million Fortnite players is a big number for sure. But I can already play Fortnite on pretty much any device I want today. Android, iPhone, console, PC. Not an actual Smart TV, but everything else. How much more untapped market is there? And why is streaming the right solution?

 

How else are you going to run a fullfat console game on most devices owned by the global gaming population?

 

Fortnite mobile has the same cutbacks as PUBG mobile, you aren't playing Red Dead Redemption 2 on those devices, or Assassin's Creed Odyssey either, no matter how much you cut from them.

 

PUBG has 400+ Million players BTW, the power of Tencent and China at work.

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I think there's still a tendency to think that phones will catch up with current gen consoles.  Maybe if 3nm silicon really becomes viable? There's a good chance it won't.

 

PS5/Bone2 will never be able to shrink down to phone size on silicon.  20 odd billion transistors* will always be too power hungry.

 

 

* Should be around that on 7nm if chip sizes are the same as this gen.

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1 hour ago, mushashi said:

 

How else are you going to run a fullfat console game on most devices owned by the global gaming population?

 

Fortnite mobile has the same cutbacks as PUBG mobile, you aren't playing Red Dead Redemption 2 on those devices, or Assassin's Creed Odyssey either, no matter how much you cut from them.

 

PUBG has 400+ Million players BTW, the power of Tencent and China at work.

 

Just as people are fond of saying the casual audience doesn't care about responsiveness,  we know the casual audience doesn't care so much about visuals.   Their phones will run great looking games locally so streaming is redundant. There is no problem to solve and no need for streaming with its millions of local-ish servers.  

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They don't care enough to spend £100's.  Genuine casual access to the full breadth of gaming isn't really tested.  The barrier to entry is too high.

 

You could argue it remains too high even with streaming.  Touch screen controls are rubbish.  Buying a controller is still a big step.

 

Currently, even using a dual sticks is too much for  many people. 

 

But then casual doesnt have to be grannies.  Gamings been around long enough for lapsed gamers to exist.  Also, streaming can potentially be an easier purchase for parents than splashing out on a full console for their kids.

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1 hour ago, monkeydog said:

I think there's still a tendency to think that phones will catch up with current gen consoles

Mobile devices surely throttle too much, even if they did find parity in terms of oomph. Although, on such a small screen it's easier to fudge visual quality.

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44 minutes ago, monkeydog said:

Genuine casual access to the full breadth of gaming isn't really tested. 

It's not financially viable that's why. That would be even beyond a Netflix type model and in Spotify territory where every new release is available for streaming. 

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23 minutes ago, monkeydog said:

By full breadth, I meant a range of titles that only play on high end hardware. Not literally every release

Like Onlive or PSnow? 

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