Xbox chief Phil Spencer believes streaming will become an integral part of the gaming experience, starting with Xbox’s own efforts with its Project xCloud service. However, Spencer also speculated that a future where games are streamed without local hardware may still be “years and years away” from becoming a mainstream reality.
Speaking with Gamespot (via VG247), the well-known face of Xbox, Phil Spencer, suspects that gaming hardware will stick around for quite some time to come. That’s despite efforts by newcomers to the streaming market, Google, which has been teasing the streaming market with its Stadia service set to launch in November.
“I think this is years away from being a mainstream way people play. And I mean years, like years and years,” Spencer says to Gamespot. “Let’s take Netflix, which is 20 years old. I think we forget that sometimes because tech moves so fast. It’s 20 years old at this point, 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 in the planet and mainly watched via streaming. I think game streaming will get there faster than 20 years, but it’s not going to be two years. This is a technological change. While it seems like it happens overnight, it doesn’t.”
Microsoft isn’t without its own horse in this race, and its Project xCloud service is set to start streaming from home xCloud servers (Xbox One consoles) later in 2019. We still don’t have a date for when Microsoft will rollout its complete server-based xCloud service running on AMD SoCs in the cloud, however.
“We will start in 2019, this year, in certain markets and then we will just continue to roll it out,” Spencer continues. “We’re doing our internal trials with xCloud now, which means people on the team can now install the application on their phone and stream games.”
But for now, Microsoft has no plans to push streaming onto its audience, at least not until its infrastructure is capable of truly living up to console tech. Not the least bit “because the experience just isn’t the same as playing on your console.”
“And way over time, we’ll have a global service that can reach everybody and the infrastructure to reach any customer with a consistent and high quality internet service, but that’s going to take time. We talk about Project xCloud and we use words like “trials” not because we don’t believe in our tech – our tech is as good as anybody’s tech out there, and the team is doing really amazing work – but this is about the reality of time and choice for customers.”
The streaming service phenomena isn’t solely limited to consoles, of course. We here in PC land also have a booming game streaming industry in-waiting for the right moment to pounce on the market. Nothing is close to surpassing the PC gaming experience right now, but if you fancy gaming on-the-go – something akin to the console streaming service Microsoft is prepping – then take a look at the best Google Stadia alternatives we’ve put together here. Or, you know, buy a Nintendo Switch. You didn’t hear it from me.