Microsoft revealed plans to launch public tests for its Project xCloud game-streaming service in late 2019, and it seems the tests are coming sooner than we thought. Multiple apps related to xCloud have popped up on the Microsoft Store, including one that points to the business model the service will be using, according to a leak reported by Windows Central.
Right now on the Microsoft Store, you can find a placeholder listing for an application called “xCloud Test Game.” It doesn’t have artwork to go along with it, nor is there a description, but the application is listed as compatible with just the Xbox One. Oddly, the release date is listed as February 2, 2019, but this could very well be a placeholder date.
A second application called “xCloud Test Game PAID” is also listed on the Microsoft Store. Aside from the different name, the information on the page is identical. Most of Microsoft’s focus has been on its cloud gaming technology and the ability to use it for free with your console as the server. There’s been no official announcement about the monetization strategy for Project xCloud yet.
The paid service will likely follow one of two models: Free cloud access for those who purchase games individually, much like the base version of Google Stadia, or a subscription similar to what Microsoft currently does with Xbox Game Pass. This will likely allow players to access a vault of games on the xCloud for a monthly fee, providing the ability to play on everything from their laptops to their phones. With Microsoft also creating custom touch-based control schemes for some of its games, those playing on mobile should still get a worthwhile experience.
Microsoft’s ongoing focus with the xCloud are not a sign that it is exiting the traditional hardware side of gaming. Late next year, the next-gen Xbox currently known as Project Scarlett is scheduled to be released. It will be capable of 8K resolution and 120 frames-per-second gameplay according to Microsoft, and it will be launching alongside Halo Infinite. It will be the first time a Halo game has launched with an Xbox system since the original game in 2001.
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