Forward-looking: Back in March, Microsoft talked about its cloud-based game streaming initiative. At E3 yesterday, it officially revealed the program. Additionally, Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox branch, confirmed that initial work on the next generation of Xbox consoles had begun.
There were some big announcements from Microsoft at its E3 press conference, including news that it had bought four studios and was creating a fifth as way to compete with Sony when comes to first-party game exclusives. But it was Spencer’s announcement of a Netflix-like game streaming service that will work across Xbox, PCs, tablets, set-top boxes, and smartphones that really grabbed people’s attention.
“Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console-quality gaming on any device,” said the exec.
We still don’t know any specifics about the service, including the all-important price—it doesn't even have a name yet. But it seems the gaming giants are getting ready for its arrival. "It's early days," said Ken Moss, EA's technology chief (via CNET). "But not that early."
Companies have been trying to make game streaming a popular option for many years. Microsoft rival Sony bought the ambitious but flawed OnLive service in 2015, only to quickly shut it down. It also acquired Gaikai and made it part of the PlayStation Now service. Nvidia, meanwhile, is letting people play demanding games on low-end hardware with its GeForce Now program. It’ll be interesting to see Microsoft’s take on game streaming, and if it’s able to popularize a system that has struggled in the past.
Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot recently said that streaming would replace all gaming platforms, thereby making consoles and gaming PCs extinct within the next ten years.
Spencer also announced that Microsoft’s engineers are “deep into architecturing the next Xbox consoles.” We’ve heard plenty of rumors about Sony’s PS4 successor, but very little about Microsoft’s next console. But with the Xbox One X only having arrived late last year, don’t expect to see an Xbox Two, or whatever it might be called, anytime soon.