At GDC, Microsoft’s VP of Cloud Gaming opened up on the future of streaming, as the company is moving from a console-centric approach and is trying to enable games them to play the games they want when they want on the devices they want.
Similar to what Google unveiled with Stadia, Microsoft’s approach also consist of identical audience pillars which include community, content and cloud. In case of Google, the company will take advantage of the huge YouTube community. Microsoft will be seeking to enthuse its Mixer and Xbox Live participants to help stimulate its cloud gaming efforts.
Microsoft said that it will operate its existing GamePass subscription service alongside xCloud, at least in the beginning.
Microsoft representatives from the xCloud promised that current games designed for Xbox consoles will easily find their way to mobile devices, where players will be able to be use either a Bluetooth controller or on-screen touch controls.
According to Gus Apostol, a principal program manager working on xCloud, game developers will not have to entirely rearchitect their games in order to make them controllable though mobiles and touchscreens. Microsoft plans to offer a set of xCloud-specific developer tools, including the Touch Adaptation Kit tool and Microsoft’s cloud aware APIs.
Microsoft is also developing cloud aware APIs to take advantage of how xCloud users might play a game on mobile devices. That includes the implantation of new save states in the event that people register shorter play sessions in a game not originally designed for bite-sized playing. The APIs will also let developers make adjustments to visual interface items like text legibility and menu layout.
Microsoft showed a demo where ‘glass’ controls or users that are playing using a touchscreen instead of a controller, can have different input schemas.
The xCloud will start with game offerings that are part of its existing Xbox library of games, with a focus on first-party titles like Forza Horizon 4, and Android phones.
xCloud is also able to detect the device and modify the control setup based on what hardware you are using to play the game. For example, if you are using an Xbox controller with your phone, there’s no need to display on-screen buttons.
Microsoft did not say when the service is supposed to arrive or even when it might be open to beta testers. However, head of Xbox Phil Spencer has recently acknowledge Google’s impressive gambit and assured observers that later this year at E3 2019, Microsoft plans to be "similarly impressive" with its own announcements.