MICROSOFT looks to be moving into an online, streaming-focused future with the Xbox Scarlett and xCloud initiatives – but will it be a sustainable future for the company?
It’s no secret that Microsoft is ramping up for its next-generation.
So far, we know its next-gen plans revolve around a project called Xbox Scarlett – a family of devices that supposedly includes an Xbox One X-inspired, super-powered box for hardcore gamers, and a more lightweight console that will be dedicated to streaming (and will take advantage of the xCloud project to deliver games to players).
The rumours about Xbox Scarlett have been floating around since summer 2018 and will reportedly take the form of Anaconda and Lockhart machines – with Lockhart being the ‘arcade’ version of the Anaconda (which is the Xbox One X-inspired machine).
To achieve this, Microsoft is banking heavily on its xCloud service – a service that will apparently allow players to stream HD/4K quality games to pretty much any device that runs xCloud (not just consoles, but potentially browsers, phones and more, too).
To that end, Microsoft is confident it’s ahead of the competition – after all, it’s been working with games companies for years now to facilitate the relationships and technology such an undertaking will require.
This week, then, we’ve seen Xbox boss Phil Spencer drop some interesting information in a new interview with GeekWire.
When the site asked a series of Xbox staff about upcoming competition from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google (each of whom is reportedly planning its own game-streaming services) ‘executive after executive dodged questions about competition’… until Spencer.
“This team has been in the video game business for some of them three decades. And we’ve been building games for many years,” the Xbox boss told the site.
“We’ve been partners to the video game companies for years and years. For many of our publishing partners, we’re one of their top global retail partners in them selling games. Video games is not a business that you come into quickly, and there is a form to building games. There are relationships that are built.”
Is that a potshot at the other companies – other companies (like Apple) that have actively avoided relationships with gaming companies until now? It seems so.
This comes as Google has announced it is set to host a keynote presentation on March 19th at 10AM PT in San Francisco for the annual Game Developer’s Conference – and the rumours are worth sitting up and listening for.
As per BusinessInsider, Google itself has sent out an invite to press with the simple-yet-effective tagline “Gather Around” with some ominous imagery attached.
But what could this incoming announcement be? Well, according to a recent report from The Information, Google has recently stepped up its work on “a subscription-based game streaming service that could work either on Google’s Chromecast or possibly a Google-made console.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about this console. Codenamed ‘Yeti’, the service is rumoured to not only be a video games machine but a Netflix-style game streaming platform too.
Alongside that the firm is trying to bring game developers under the Google umbrella “whether through aggressive recruiting or even major acquisitions”.
Microsoft and its xCloud come see some interesting competition from Google, then – but will players really migrate away from services like Games with Gold and Games Pass, and even their potentially decades-old Xbox accounts, to a newcomer to the gaming space?
We’ll have to wait and see.