Xbox head Phil Spencer has a lot to think about, from the next generation of Xbox consoles to helping build new development teams. He and those working in Microsoft's Gaming division also manage an ecosystem that seeks to meet the needs of as many players as possible. Cloud-based gaming touches on all of these areas, which is why he announced Project xCloud, Microsoft's gaming streaming technology that lets you access the power of an Xbox console over your phone through an Internet connection.
GameSpot recently spoke with Spencer on a number of topics, including how he sees xCloud fit into the Xbox repertoire. He also explained how he thinks xCloud will work in an industry that traditionally revolves around home consoles.
"It's one of the directions the industry is heading," Spencer said. "For me, it's about what you as a player want to do, and I'm not trying to say that owning a box that plays video games is a bad thing or that it's not necessary in any way.
" I think the cloud inevitability as a part of games is absolutely true, "he continued." But we have more computers around us than we've ever had, whether it's your phone, a Surface Hub or an Xbox. The world where computer devices are gone and everything comes from the cloud is just not the world we live in today. "
Physical devices are still very much part of the equation when it comes to cloud gaming, but Xbox itself doesn't create a new device specifically for it." Last year we talked about xCloud and then we said we were working on new game consoles, but it's everything I said. "Spencer clarified," We didn't say that [a streaming console was in the works]. I think some might have thought it was the recordless one we just sent. We are not currently working on a streaming console. We look at the phone in your pocket as the destination for you to stream, and the console that we have allows you to play the games locally. "
" If you bought a big gaming computer and you like to play games there, I want to respect that and meet you where you are and bring the content and services you want to that device. If you want to buy an Xbox, if you want to play Minecraft on a PlayStation, I want to make sure it comes to you there. "
One of the most important issues that has always surrounded cloud gaming is law. Specifically, how quickly your controller efforts will translate into action on a screen. In some cases, it was a question for Google Stadia demos, especially for fast shooters who Doom. Spencer recognizes this and makes no bones about these concerns and says "I don't" I think someone should say there is no delay. "
" When we go back to our openness there is a truth that I think it's always important for us to talk to our customers. In xCloud, we build a convenience that allows you to take your Xbox experience with you. Meaning, that's why we focus on the phone, and the experience is not the same as run the games on an Xbox One X. I'm not going to say it's an 8k 1
" You can jump in a party, we can voice chat. Everything works the same way as when I sit with my console from a community and content perspective but you run it from a cloud, which will feel different. "
We talk about Project xCloud and we use words like" trials "not because we don't believe in our technology – our technology is as good as any technology out there, and the team does really great work – but it's about reality in time and choice for customers
Given that he has traveled with an early version of xCloud on his own phone and played games on it in public, it seems as if xCloud is in complete state. year (one month before Google Stadium), but we asked if it will be launched as a fully formed service. "We will launch 2019, this year, in some markets and then we just continue to launch it. We are now doing our internal experiments with xCloud, which means that people in the team can now install the application on their phone and stream games. "
" One of the benefits of working with Microsoft is the Azure data center globally, which allows us to place hardware as close to people as we possibly can. And we can take advantage of the fact that Microsoft has spent a lot of money establishing data centers to help us accelerate this build. So we will start in 2019 and have people playing Xbox games on their phones, so we get lots of feedback. "
Project xCloud launch this year marks just the beginning of the Xbox game streaming service; Microsoft will continue to iterate on it while it's in players' hands, and Spencer emphasizes that technological change is taking time." I think this is the year away from being a common way people play. And I mean years, like years and years. "
" Let's Take Netflix, 20 Years old. I think we sometimes forget it because the technology is moving so fast. It's 20 years old at this time, so it took two decades for us to get to the point where shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards are some of the biggest shows on the planet and mainly seen via streaming. I think game streaming will get there faster than 20 years, but it won't be two years. This is a technological change. It seems to happen overnight, but it doesn't. "
" It takes time for these services to develop. We are based on the long term, but that is why the choice is so critical. I'm not trying to say go sell your consoles today and switch to streaming because the experience just isn't the same as playing on your console, but I think when it comes to reaching everyone, democratizing games and content, it's important that we don't unlocks all these experiences behind buying a particular device. "
" And over time, we will have a global service that can reach everyone and the infrastructure to reach all customers with a consistent and high quality of the internet, but it will take time. We talk about Project xCloud and we use words like "try" not because we don't believe in our technology – our technology is as good as anyone's technology out there, and the team does really great work – but this is about the reality of time and choices for customers. "
On the way, the development of xCloud can lead to some creative uses; we've seen hints of it in Crackdown 3's multiplayer and how it handles physics. But Spencer and the team are thinking outside the game themselves as they have plans to do it is an integral part of the industry's largest convention and says "At E3 [in the future]our plan is to let people who come to the show actually play games, play Xbox games on phones at the show. "
Project xCloud – Official Trailer
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Part of the cloud game's success, and in particular xCloud, rests in how developers account for the new technology. It's also an aspect that Xbox is already going for, and Spencer explained how the team is doing. "We've already started placing xCloud servers near locations where our biggest third-party developers are. So now we're starting to get third-party developers so they can see their game on a phone, which is crucial because there are things like font sizes that if you wanted take advantage of and understand how the game runs on the phone, you want to make it available. You want them to see it and experience it themselves. "
" We've also already added the Xbox SDK, because if you're streaming, a developer might do something different if the game runs locally. All developers who build Xbox games today have access to that ability to decide if the game is streaming or running locally, which I think is a good addition. "
" You will have some developers who We will already have some of the early adopters asking for [it] because there are some things that clouds make more possible than what happened in the home. A good example of this is our magazines right now that have all the Xbox in the data center have several Xboxes in one sheet … really like a bunch of Xboxes in your house that are attached together. So the latency between all these consoles is negligible. It's almost zero since they're literally attached together. If we were to play games online, there is latency where you live and I live, right? Our two Xboxes only take time to sync. "
More exclusive Phil Spencer coverage
Our conversations with Phil Spencer covered much more in addition to this deep dive into Project xCloud and the cloud player's place in the industry. For more inside look at Spencer and his thoughts on Xbox & # 39; s past, present and future, check out all of our coverage in the stories linked below.