At Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019, game streaming seems to be all the rage. While Google announced that its Stadia game streaming service will launch by the end of 2019, let's not forget that Microsoft has also been working on a similar service for a while. Microsoft's Project xCloud game streaming service was announced at E3 2018 and the company has now mentioned something that caught our eye. Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft's VP of gaming cloud, has claimed that the company has managed to bring down Project xCloud latency to under 10ms and said it is working on making xCloud run smoothly on 5-6Mbps Internet connections.
This is far below the 25Mbps recommended Internet speed for Google Stadia, as reported by Kotaku. Choudhry made these comments in an interview with Eurogamer, which has lots of other insights on Project xCloud so you should definitely go read the full article. Here's what Choudhry said about Internet speeds required for Project xCloud in the Eurogamer interview: “We hope to get down to single digit Mbps. I think some of the demos we've shown so far have probably gone down to nine, 10Mbps. Some of the work that we're doing with Microsoft research, I think we'll be able to get a really good video feed probably around six to five.”
This is promising news considering that Project xCloud is primarily geared towards allowing people to stream AAA games on Android phones. If the service ever makes it to India, its ability to work on low Internet speeds will be put to the test and maybe, just maybe Project xCloud could work reasonably well in India.
Choudhry also told Eurogamer, “From the data centres we have near Washington we're seeing really good latency - less than 10 milliseconds that's being added by the traversal to the cloud. Frankly we find more latency in the Bluetooth stack, connected to an Android phone.”
Latency is a big point of concern with game streaming services. This is essentially the time delay between when you press a button and when the corresponding action is executed in the game. The lower this number is, the better your gaming experience will be.
While it's great to hear these low numbers for latency and minimum Internet speed required, let's not forget that at this point there's no real proof of how Project xCloud will work in real world tests. There's some positive news coming from Microsoft but we're going to take everything mentioned before launch with a pinch of salt. Even though the idea of playing Forza Horizon 4 on an Android phone sounds wonderful, it's best to wait for Project xCloud to launch before getting excited about how good it could be.
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